From William Treasure, Benin
It is now fire for fire in Edo State between home based and Abuja -based politicians as the state’s governor, Godwin Obaseki has declared that no Abuja politician from the state can take over the state house of Assembly.
The Governor’s declaration came as thousands of civil servants, members of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, leaders and teachers, market women and traders and other support groups came out in full force in solidarity with the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of Obaseki and in condemnation of those they termed enemies of the state government.
Addressing the crowd which converged on the Kings Square in Benin city, the state capital, Governor Obaseki stressed that the state is in safe hands with the combination of himself, the Deputy Governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie Esq.
He told the cheering crowd that they would not be distracted, saying: “You already know that with the three of us, Edo is in safe hands. When I resumed as Governor, pensioners were always protesting in the streets because they were not being paid. I am happy that you no longer protest today.”
He thanked the people for their support and pledged that his government would remain focused on serving the people of Edo State not an individual.
“Our focus is to use the money we have in Edo to develop the people and Edo State. Our focus is to continue to build roads and infrastructure as well as make sure Edo continues to maintain leadership in education. We will continue to produce the best manpower for our country. I will continue to commit my electoral promises to you. I promised to create 200,000 jobs in my first four years and today we have created over 100,000 jobs,” he said.
Gov. Obaseki stressed that, “What I will not do as Governor is to chop (eat) the seed yam. The seed yam is to cultivate so that we can have a bumper harvest. I will not allow anybody chop the little money we have today. That money is meant to be invested so that we can have better future. That is the fight; that is the struggle. The struggle started 12 years ago in this town. The struggle has not ended. It has entered gear two; the same thing that happened 10 years ago. Nothing has changed.”
Obaseki noted that, “It is unfortunate that some people who were with us 12 years ago, we do not know what has happened to them. It is a struggle we will win. It is a struggle that says that the people must lead. Democracy is about people. Whatever we are doing as a government is for you. This is just the beginning. All the plans we have in place will come to fruition. Construction work will start in the industrial park. Before the end of my first tenure, work will start at the Benin River Port. These are long term projects”.
“We have tried to do so much work within the last two and half years. I did not meet a lot of money. We have been struggling. I did not buy official car for myself until after 18 months in office because we do not have the money.
He also lauded Edo Best teachers for starting a revolution in education as other Africa countries visit the state to understudy what the state is doing.
“We are building our technical schools so that everybody will have a trade. After 20 years of democracy, we cannot continue to behave as if we do not have democracy. In states where they have released election calendar, they have not started heating up the polity as they are doing in Edo,” he noted.
“Those people who are parading themselves singing everywhere for themselves and their pockets, Edo people are watching you. Those of you who have gone to Abuja to say people should come and invade Edo and seize our House of Assembly, we are waiting for you. We have no fear at all. We have resolved to continue to do what is best for our state and for our country. We have no doubt that we are on the right course”.
“We know that Edo is with us. We know that the people are with us. We know that teachers, traditional rulers, labour unions are with us. Anybody that tries to stop us, come here and you will see. We dare you that nobody can stop the progress in Edo State. I assure that you have a government that is resolved to make Edo number one. Help us maintain peace. Without peace there will be no prosperity. They know that if we continue to have the peace we had in the last two years, nobody will catch us. In few years’ time those of them parading themselves as democrats whereas they are not; people who say they represent us in Abuja no longer come,” he stated.
“They stay there (Abuja) and start throwing stones at home. Those Abuja politicians who we refused to send back and those who got there by mistake want to disturb the peace of Edo. We will not let them.
He urged the people to, “Go about your businesses peacefully. There is nothing they are doing now that will stop us from continuing to construct your roads. We will build our schools and create jobs for you. Whatever they try and do will not stop us. As long as you have us in government and in government house, Edo will continue to move forward”.
Speakers after speakers at the solidarity rally lauded the governor for the giant strides in various sectors and for efforts being made towards turning around the fortunes of the state.
Chairman of the state chapter of the NLC, Comrade Sunday Osayende said, “There is no godfather anymore and anybody who wants to take Edo back to the days of godfatherism, we will join hands together to fight them.”
The state chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Marshal Owe said, “What is good is good and what is bad is bad. Godwin Obaseki is good today, Godwin Obaseki is using Edo State resources for Edo people. He has modernised the way taxes are collected, he has come, he has seen and he will conquer”.
Also, Comrade Lazarus Aderolor, who is the chairman of ALGON in the state, said, “Today, I can tell you that before 2016 local government workers were owed 15 months arrears of salary but today, Governor Obaseki has given a marching order that salaries of local government workers must be paid promptly”.
The leader of Edo market women body, Mrs. Blackky Omoregie, said, “We thank Comrade Oshiomhole for giving us Obaseki. He told us then that he will work more than him, that whatever he was doing will be small compared to what Obaseki will do and Obaseki has not disappointed us, we will follow him to wherever he is going. We were enjoying before, we are enjoying more now. In every market now, we have light and water”.
Representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said, “If you are in darkness and somebody comes with light, are you not supposed to follow the light? Obaseki is the light and we are following him. We watched him for one year and discovered that he is focused and has the people at heart and we named him God’s Servant Governor”.
On his part, the Chief Imam of Edo State, Abdul Fatah Enabulele, said, “Governor Obaseki has done well, he has been taking care of our pilgrim activities; our secretariat in Dumez road is nearing completion because of his support. We are with him, we support him and he should be given a second term but if they chose not to give him, we will follow him to form a new party.
Mrs. Isoken Ehighe who spoke on behalf of Primary School teachers noted that, “We have been trained by this government, we grew from analogue to digital all kudos to Obaseki.” The National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) helmsman in the state, Comrade Osahon Obasuyi declared, in support of Gov. Obaseki that, “The entire youths are behind you and we will continue to be with you to the end.”