Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, declared yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari will be remembered as father of democracy in Nigeria for ensuring last Saturday’s governorship election in the state was free, fair and credible.
Obaseki stated this while receiving his Certificate of Return at the head office of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The re-elected governor, who hailed President Buhari’s insistence on the need for credible election, noted that the president had the option to ensure the APC candidate won the governorship election in the state but decided to do the right thing by allowing the votes of the people to count.
Obaseki as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defeated his main challenger, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), last Saturday to retain the governorship position of the state.
Speaking after receiving his certificate of return, Obaseki said, “I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for the part he played in ensuring a free, fair and credible election. He will be remembered as the father of democracy in Nigeria. He had a choice to ensure his party was declared winner but insisted that the right thing be done.”
Obaseki however extended the olive branch by calling on former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole; gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other members of the APC to join hands with his administration to develop the state.
He said, “I use this opportunity to reach out to our brothers on the other side of the divide as we are one family in the pursuit to provide public good for our citizens. The election shows that they trust us more now to provide leadership. It doesn’t mean the opposition parties don’t have a role to play.
“I use this opportunity to extend the hands of fellowship to my brother, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his other colleagues in the APC as well as other parties to join hands with us to move Edo forward.
“I call on Adams Oshiomhole that the fight is over and he should come and join in building the house which he was part of, in laying the foundation. We have no malice but only disagree on the approach in moving Edo forward”.
The governor also commended the leadership of INEC for the unbiased role they played in the election.
Hailing the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, for not buckling under pressure as an umpire, the governor said advocated the deployment of more technology as a measure to ensure fair and credible polls.
He stated: “I want to thank the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for his intellect in introducing technology to provide transparency in the process. He should be hailed by all as INEC was able to view results as the counting of votes was ongoing in units across the state. This has introduced another ornament of transparency in the way we do election in Nigeria.
“Technology is the way to go, if we must have free, fair and credible elections in the future. Edo people spoke and their voices were heard because INEC did its best, did its job and decided to remain impartial in the whole process of the election”.
The governor who praised the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its tenacity and doggedness in ensuring the party got victory also saluted the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, for the fatherly role he played in ensuring the election held peacefully.
He added: “I also thank the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, for his fatherly role in ensuring that the election was peaceful. I thank Edo people and Clergy men for their prayers and support towards ensuring a successful election. I thank God for helping Edo State conduct an election which many predicted would be bloody and characterised by violence, but God stepped in and made it peaceful”.
Presenting the certificate of return to the governor, the INEC national commissioner in charge of Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers states, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the certificate presentation is in fulfilment of the statutory obligation of the commission as required by the electoral law.
She noted: “This occasion is made possible because of the successful conduct of the Governorship election on Saturday. I must thank all stakeholders and the good and peace-loving people of Edo State for your contribution and commitment to credible and safe conclusion of the election process in Edo State. INEC has played its humble part and we always maintain that a successfully conducted election is a collective effort as this election has proven to be”.
The resident electoral commissioner in Edo State, Alalibo Johnson expressed appreciation to the security agencies for their collaboration which led to the huge success of the poll.
He said, “Section 76 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended has mandated the commission to issue Certificate of Return within seven days to the candidate who wins the election. This event is another fulfilment of the law.”