Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, who was recently re-elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has said it will be immoral to return to the All Progressives Congress (APC) after all his party’s efforts to return him to office.
This is even as he has declared that he should be dealt with if he tries to replace former APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as the new godfather after defeating godfatherism in his state.
Responding to questions from State House Correspondents after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, he affirmed that leaving the PDP for the APC goes against Buhari’s gospel of integrity. He added that godfatherism has no place in Nigeria’s constitution and must not be encouraged as it is a threat to democracy.
Obaseki while on a thank you visit to the President, in the company of his deputy, Philip Shuiabu and their spouses as well as lawmakers and elder statesmen from the state, noted that Buhari’s role despite being the leader of the ruling party, has deepened the nation’s democracy.
On if he will consider returning to the APC, Obaseki said: “The answer to your question, gleaning from the comments of Mr. President, he said that he wants to leave a democracy that is built on integrity, accountability and hard work. Those were his words and I subscribe totally to that. It will not show integrity, it will not demonstrate somebody that has ethical or moral foundation to do what you asked about. I couldn’t have contested on a party, won on that party and then consider moving to another party. It is not the kind of thing to do, it’s not the right thing to do and I am sure you will not encourage me to do that.”
On if he is considers replacing the defeated godfather in future, the governor said: “In the case of godfathers in our politics, I have said in several fora that the whole concept of godfatherism is very dangerous to our democracy. And that is why when we came into the political fray in 2006/2007, the mantra then was to get rid of godfathers from our political life. The reason is simple, the godfather has no constitutional responsibility, the godfather acts outside the constitution and controls people who are constitutional players. So, if we allow that sort of situation to continue, it will be worse than military rule. When people who have nothing at stake, no checks and balances just arbitrarily decide that this is the way the constitution should be interpreted or constitutional players should operate, that’s why problems come in. God forbid I become a godfather, I should be dealt with accordingly because it’s dangerous to the concept of democracy.”
On the purpose of his visit to the Presidential Villa, Obaseki said: “This morning we were privileged to meet with the President, essentially to express the gratitude of Edo People, myself and my deputy for the role he played in the conduct of gubernatorial election in Edo State. He insisted that Nigeria should have proper elections, credible elections, free and fair elections and that is what happened.
“So, this morning we are here in the Villa to show our profound gratitude and appreciation for this, which on the surface will look normal but the implications are very far reaching. Because, this is a sitting president whose party was contesting an election and insisted that the right thing be done and a level playing field be created for contestants. By doing so, that singular action has deepened our democracy, far beyond what we can understand and imagine today.
“So, for that act alone, we felt we must come and say thank you. I am not just coming alone with my deputy, we came to say thank you with the representatives of Edo people – our senators, members of the House of Representatives, our senior citizens and party leaders. Mr. President in his characteristic humorous manner, said he reluctantly congratulated me for beating his party.
“He also pointed that his role first and foremost as president of Nigeria, is to be president of all regardless of your party, race, tribe, creed. We couldn’t ask for more from Mr. President, he really played the role of Stateman.”
Speaking on how he will unifying the Edo people after bitter exchanges of hurtful words during the campaigns, the governor said: “It is really unfortunate that there is so much bitterness and I can assure that most of it did not come from my camp because, we were not desperate but that is neither here nor there. We also have to appreciate the role of the social media, since COVID-19, the import and the impact of social media technology is at all time high.
“So, it’s not that in the past such hurtful words, hateful speeches were not used but it was never at the level of proliferation and spread as it has had now because of social media. We will continue to try and heal the land, fortunately, it doesn’t show that Edo people are divided, it shows essentially that Edo people have come together under one umbrella, that is what the election has shown.
“We will continue to appeal to those who are outside our umbrella to work with us for the benefits of our people. What is the purpose of election anyway, is it not a contest for who will rule the people better. If the result of this election has shown that Edo people trust that I will at this point in time be able to govern Edo better, give them what they want at this time, then my appeal is that everybody should join me so as to be able to accomplish that goal.”