The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on Saturday handed the party’s flag to Mr. Godwin Obaseki, and his running mate, Philip Shuaibu, as the governorship and deputy governorship candidates of the party in the September 10 election.
Oyegun led by other leaders of the party at the state and national levels to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, where the event took place, under a heavy presence of security operatives from the Nigerian Army, the Department of State Security, the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
No fewer than 13 APC governors were present at the venue of the event.
They include the Imo State Governor and Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha; Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Simon Lalung (Plateau), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna) and Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi).
The governors of Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Bornu, Kwara, Oyo and Kogi States were represented by their respective deputy governors.
Also present were the state Deputy Governor, Pius Odubu, and other aspirants who took part in the June 18 primary election and other members of the state executive council.
While presenting the party’s flag to the candidates, the national chairman said that the citizens had before them a choice between the APC, which he described as a performing party, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which he said failed to meet their expectations in its 10 years in government.
According to Oyegun, Obaseki was a “brain box” in whom the APC was well pleased, adding that the party was proud of the achievements of the incumbent governor in the last seven and a half years.
Meanwhile, the APC Governors’ Forum has pledged its support for the party and its candidate.
The chairman of the forum disclosed while briefing journalists at the Government House in Benin, shortly after a closed-door meeting, which lasted till the early hours of Saturday.
Okorocha said that the party had set up a national campaign council comprising seven governors to ensure victory for the party.
He expressed confidence that the APC would produce a credible candidate for the Ondo governorship election.
He also said that the forum would be pleased to welcome Obaseki as its newest member in November, as victory for the APC in the September poll had already been “signed, sealed and delivered”.
On his part, Oshiomhole stated that Obaseki had the experience and integrity to succeed him in November.
He, however, criticised the PDP, describing it as a party that allegedly denied the citizens of basic infrastructure, under the disguise that Edo was a civil service state.
He also took a swipe at a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and chieftain of the PDP, Chief Tom Ikimi, over his comment at the flag-off of the party’s governorship campaign, describing him as one who “has capacity to lose elections serially.”
He said, “Throughout the period that Ikimi was with us, and I respect him at least because he has capacity to lose election serially, we never won elections in Igueben. When he left, we felt relieved.
“He said he was leaving because we elected a new chairman (Oyegun). But this is a party chairman who has been a permanent secretary at the age of 40, not by quota but by merit. He fought for democracy, went on exile and came back. He founded a political party, we elected him as the party chairman and he (Ikimi) said that they took his pot of soup”
In his remarks, Obaseki noted that, if elected, his administration would focus on employment creation in agriculture and entrepreneurial skills, with 200,000 jobs created across the state, in his first four years in office.
The party’s flag bearer explained that 150,000 jobs would be created in the agricultural sector alone, adding that the template of his administration’s policy would be published.
He promised to promote technical and vocational education, in recognition it’s role in national development, and provide an enabling environment for the economic empowerment of women in the state.
While commending the achievements of the governor, he also pledged to build on his (Oshiomhole) legacy, through the expansion of infrastructure across the state.
Obaseki said, “We are aware of the reality that governance often throws up unexpected circumstances. Yet, me running mate and I can state and pledge here today that we will not fail you.
“We ask you to challenge us to deliver the extraordinary. We want you to broaden your vision for Edo State; tell us the Edo State you want and it will become the Edo State that we will build together.”
Earlier, the State Chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua, noted that the party had achieved 100 per cent in reconciling those who were aggrieved over the outcome of the gubernatorial primary.
The party also received some defectors of the PDP into its fold.
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