Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State set politics aside, on Monday, to host his Ebonyi State counterpart and Chairman of the electoral committee for the governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State, Governor David Umahi, saying “what is at stake is not war, it is contestation, it is democracy.”
Speaking while playing host to Governor Umahi who paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Benin City, shortly after conducting the primaries of the PDP, Governor Oshiomhole said, “I appreciate you very much, party or no party. I always say that for people of our level and of our exposure, we should all recognize that there is only one supra-party to which we all belong; and that is Nigeria as a nation and we are all committed to serving it and to contributing to its strength, unity, progress and prosperity.
“I believe we made a conscious choice as a people to settle for a multiparty democracy. We could have opted for a unitary party system where everybody must belong to one party, but we opted for multiparty democracy. And it can only happen if people, very decent people, responsible people, people who mean well find different political platforms to canvass for support, to bid for power and to use power creatively to impact on the lives of our people.”
Oshiomhole said the visit would go a long way to demonstrate that what is at stake is not war but contestation in democracy. He said, “So, you are one hundred percent right when you said that party or no party, in fact, the most important thing is our common country and our common commitment to serve our people. And as a person, I appreciate you a lot, and I appreciate the courtesy of coming to Edo State, and in spite of a very challenging assignment you have had to perform between yesterday and this afternoon, you have taken the time to visit your brother which is myself. That in a way will go out to tell many people that what is at stake is not war; it is contestation; it is democracy. It doesn’t happen if you don’t have more than one candidate. And if there are no candidates, then there is no democracy.”
While urging Nigerians to rise above sentiments and partisan politics but to stand up to work for the unity of Nigeria, Oshiomhole congratulated Governor Umahi, saying “I also want to congratulate you for a successful party primary. We were also able to watch it. I saw you render pro bono electoral services, and like you said, when followers see leaders of different parties sharing jokes, they will know that this is not war. It is all about persuasion, politics of ideas. I pray that our democracy continues to grow from strength to strength, and we emphasize more on issues rather than persons, and across political divides, we build friendship. I know that there are a lot of people in my party who have a lot of regard for your person, and vice versa. So, this is the way it should be.
“I think we should exchange this visit across all divides to build unity because we still have few challenges here and there. There are still a lot of people who question the unity of our country, but people of your level and my level, we must rise above all sentiments to stand for Nigeria and to work for the unity, as they say, to uphold her honour and glory. May God use us to do much more for our country and for our respective states.”
Speaking earlier, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. David Umahi said, “I am here to see my brother. I came yesterday evening to conduct the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries. I was the chairman of the electoral committee for the governorship primaries of PDP. At the level of the Governors’ Forum, we don’t emphasize party at all. That is why I told him I was going to be here. And he was very excited and said he was going to host me.
“Yesterday, I was to be hosted here, but I came a bit late, and I went into stakeholders meeting. So, after the congress, I said, let me see him, and greet him and appreciate him for the security and other logistics that he provided to make our primaries very hit-free. This is how it should be. We are one people, the same Nigerians. And so, we should play politics of maturity, politics of decency, and to know that the interest of our country should come first before the party. And so, you may not imagine that I have just produced a candidate to confront his candidate, and here we are in Government House, talking and rejoicing. And I want to pray to God that the mood we are in now should be the mood of the election.”
Governor Umahi said the success of the primaries of the two parties is an indication that Nigeria can be better. He said, “I want to also commend him for a successful primary. We took a cue from him. It was well organized; I watched it live. Again, we are very happy for that feat because it shows that in our politics, we are growing and we will continue to grow to a point when things are decently done.
“The two primaries in Edo State indicate that Nigeria can be better. So, for this, I congratulate him both for the APC primaries and that of PDP, and it is my prayer that God is going to strengthen you for the work you are doing for the people of Edo State. Again, I bring greetings from my family to your family.”