Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has formally announced his resigned his membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party.
The governor has debunked allegations that his credentials were fake, the reason given by his former party for disqualifying him from contesting in the party’s state primary slated for June 22.
Obaseki announced the decision to State House Correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.
He said he would pursue his ambition for a second term in office on another party platform.
Obaseki had on Monday said he would only disclose his next line of action after meeting with the president.
Obaseki has been having a running battle with his predecessor and the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.
Asked why he was at State House, Obaseki said: ‘You remember in my last tweet, I said that I’ll make a decision after my disqualification was announced by APC, that I’ll make a decision after I’ve consulted with the leadership and my supporters in Edo State and also having informed the president.
‘I’m here today to inform you that I have now decided, formally, to resign my membership of the All Progressives Congress. Having done that I will now announce in the next few days my specific line of action and what platform I will be contesting the gubernatorial election on.’
Asked why he resigned his membership of the ruling party, the governor said: ‘I’m sure the whole country knows and is aware of what has gone on with me and the party chairman in party leadership, which culminated in my disqualification as a gubernatorial aspirant and upon that unfortunate decision by the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, I’ve decided to go and seek my gubernatorial aspiration on another platform.’
Asked his reaction to Oshiomhole’s remarks that incumbency isn’t a factor for him, Obaseki said: ‘Time will tell. Let us go to the polls and Nigerians will see.’
Asked if there are inconsistencies in with his credentials, the governor said: ‘Someone who hasn’t gone to school, who doesn’t have certificate himself, will not know and understand what inconsistencies in certificates are, that’s the starting point.
‘What is the inconsistency? There’s no inconsistency in my certificates. The issue was in 2016 when I contested for the gubernatorial election, I could not find the originals of my certificates because I hadn’t required them for more than two decades. So, I deposed to an affidavit that I couldn’t find the originals. Subsequently, I found all the original copies of all my certificates and they are with me. So, I don’t understand what’s inconsistent about that.
‘Maybe the inconsistency in the (National) Youths (Service) Corps certificate where he said my surname was missing an ‘i’ at the end; but if you look at that it was like a cursive, it was written in a cursive manner. So, if that’s inconsistency for him, then it’s really sad that people of that quality are leading Nigeria’s ruling party.
‘For him, it was just to look for an excuse to take whatever decision he wants to take and it’s really sad that the party structure today gives him that sort of authority without checks, that is dangerous for any system or any institution. When you give authority and responsibility to people who don’t have character, people who do not have finesse, a sense of justice, then that institution is imperilled.’
Asked what he discussed with PDP governors over the weekend, Obaseki said: ‘First, these are my brother governors who are from my subregion, some of them have gone through a similar experience I’m going through. It’s only proper that when you have challenges of this nature you’ll go and talk to people who have gone through a similar experience for advice. That’s basically what I went to do with them.’
Asked what was the president’s reaction was, the embattled governor said. ‘You’ll get that from Mr President.’
On the APC’s national chairman’s statement that he‘ll provide a level playing ground at the primaries, Obaseki said: ‘He, Adams Oshiomhole, has he? As governor Wike said, he should practise what he preaches. He has never done so. He has not provided a level playing ground even in the selection process, the disqualification process. What is the basis for disqualifying someone like Chris Ogiemwonyi?
‘You are afraid of people who are educated because you didn’t go to school. You are afraid of people who have something to offer because all he knows how to offer is brigandage, crisis. So, for us, Nigeria has to move forward beyond some of the characters who are currently overseeing our political polity and they are scared. They are scared that when people of substance, when people who are proven when people who have succeeded in other aspects of life, come into politics, they will be history.
‘For me, this fight is not about grabbing political power, it’s not about me, it’s not about trying to prove a sense of importance, no. It’s for us, 21 years into this republic, democracy must mature, but as democracy is maturing, we now need to begin to show that politics cannot and should not be the preserve of a certain character of people.
‘People of accomplishment, people of knowledge, people of character must also be accommodated in the political space. You don’t have to be a ruffian to be a politician, you don’t have to be a brigand to be a politician, you don’t have to be a thief to be a politician.’
Asked about his chances flying a different party flag, the Edo governor said: ‘I’m sure if you’ve scanned the environment, you’ve scanned the media, you’ve scanned social media, the reaction from people across the world, particularly Edos at home and in the diaspora, has been unbelievable. They’ve said to me: “wherever you go, we go.”‘
Asked why he chose the State House to announce his resignation, the governor said: ‘I’ve said that before I make a decision, I have to show respect to my president, who I adore, who for me is an epitome of incorruptibility, an epitome of order, an epitome of lawfulness. This is the man who, for him, that is what Nigeria should be all about. I think I owe him that respect to come and tell him what I have done and why I have decided to take the decision I took.’