From JOHN AWANYAI OSSAI, Benin
For allowing the will of Edo people to prevail in last Saturday’s governorship election, even against the interest of his own party, President Muhammadu Buhari will be remembered as the father of democracy in Nigeria, Edo State Governor and Governor-elect, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has said.
Obaseki, who was first elected Governor on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but won his re-election on PDP ticket following a rift in APC that led to his exit, made this remark earlier today while receiving his Certificate of Return (CoR) from INEC at the Commission’s Benin office, calling on former National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other members of the APC to join hands with his administration to take Edo to the next level.
Receiving the document as Governor-elect for the September 19 governorship election at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Benin City, Edo State capital, Obaseki noted that President Buhari had the option to ensure that the APC candidate won the governorship election but decided that the right thing be done by allowing the votes of the people to count thereby ensuring that the Edo State governorship election was free, fair and credible.
“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for the part he played in ensuring a free, fair and credible election. He will be remembered as the father of democracy in Nigeria. He had a choice to ensure his party was declared winner but insisted that the right thing be done,” Obaseki said.
Urging members of the opposition party, the APC, to join hands with his administration to move Edo State forward, Obaseki said: “I use this opportunity to reach out to our brothers on the other side of the divide as we are one family in the pursuit to provide public good for our citizens. The election shows that they trust us more now to provide leadership. It doesn’t mean the opposition parties don’t have a role to play.”
He added: “I use this opportunity to extend my hands of fellowship to my brother, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his other colleagues in the APC as well as other parties to join hands with us to move Edo forward.
“I call on Adams Oshiomhole that the fight is over and he should come and join in building the house which he was part of, in laying the foundation. We have no malice but only disagree on the approach in moving Edo forward.”
The Governor commended the leadership of INEC for their unbiased role in the election and the commission’s National Chairman’s ability to withstand pressure as an umpire, adding: “I want to thank the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for his intellect in introducing technology to provide transparency in the process. He should be hailed by all as INEC was able to view results as the counting of votes was ongoing in units across the state. This has introduced another ornament of transparency in the way we do election in Nigeria.”
Obaseki praised the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its tenacity and doggedness in ensuring the party got victory.
“Technology is the way to go, if we must have free, fair and credible elections in the future. Edo people spoke and their voices were heard because INEC did its best, did its job and decided to remain impartial in the whole process of the election.
“I also thank the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, for his fatherly role in ensuring that the election was peaceful. I thank Edo people and Clergy men for their prayers and support towards ensuring a successful election. I thank God for helping Edo State conduct an election which many predicted would be bloody and characterised by violence, but God stepped in and made it peaceful,” he stressed.
The INEC National Commissioner in charge of Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers states, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu said the presentation of Certificate of Return was in fulfilment of the statutory obligation of the commission as required by the electoral law.
“This occasion is made possible because of the successful conduct of the Governorship election on Saturday. I must thank all stakeholders and the good and peace-loving people of Edo State for your contribution and commitment to credible and safe conclusion of the election process in Edo State. INEC has played its humble part and we always maintain that a successfully conducted election is a collective effort as this election has proven to be,” she said.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Edo State, Alalibo Johnson, expressed appreciation to the security agencies for their collaboration which led to the huge success of the poll.
He said: “Section 76 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended has mandated the commission to issue Certificate of Return within seven days to the candidate who wins the election. This event is another fulfilment of the law.”