By Tony Ehighiale, Benin City
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on Saturday led other chieftains as well as governors elected on the platform of the party to present APCâ€™s flag to its candidate in the September 10 governorship poll, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, and his running mate, Philip Shuaibu.The event took place at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Beninunder a heavy presence of security operatives from the Nigerian Army, the Department of State Security, the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
In all, no fewer than 13 APC governors were present at the venue of the event and they include, those of Imo, Rochas Okorocha; the host, Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Simon Lalung (Plateau), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna) and Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi).
Other governors include those of Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Bornu, Kwara, Oyo and Kogi States whoÂ Â were represented by their respective deputy governors.
Also present were the state Deputy Governor, Pius Odubu, and other aspirants who took part in the June 18 primary election and other members of the state executive councilâ€Ž.
Odigie-Oyegun said that the citizens had before them a choice between the APC, which he described as a performing party, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which he said failed to meet their expectations in its 10 years in government.
According to him, Obaseki was a â€œbrain boxâ€â€Ž in whom the APC was well pleased, adding that the party was proud of the achievements of the incumbent governor in the last seven and a half years.
Meanwhile, the APC Governorsâ€™ Forum has pledged its support for the party and its candidate.
The chairman of the forum disclosed while briefing journalists at the Government House in Benin, shortly after a closed-door meeting, which lasted till the early hours of Saturday.
Okorocha said that the party had set up a national campaign council comprising seven governors to ensure victory for the party.
He expressed confidence that the APC would produce a credible candidate for the Ondo governorship election.
He also said that the forum would be pleased to welcome Obaseki as its newest member in November, as victory for the APC in the September poll had already been â€œsigned, sealed and deliveredâ€.
He, however, criticised the PDP, describing it as a party that allegedly denied the citizens of basic infrastructure, under the disguise that Edo was a civil service state.
He also â€Žtook a swipe at a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and chieftain of the PDP, Chief Tom Ikimi, over his comment at the flag-off of the partyâ€™s governorship campaign, describing him as one who â€œhas capacity to lose elections serially.â€
He said, â€œThroughout the period that Ikimi was with us, and I respect him at least because he has capacity to lose election serially, we never won elections in Igueben. When he left, we felt relieved.
â€œHe said he was leaving because we elected a newÂ chairman (Oyegun). But this is a party chairman who has been a permanent secretary at the age of 40, not by quota but by merit. He fought for democracy, went on exile and came back. He founded a political party, we elected him as the party chairman and he (Ikimi) said that they took his pot of soupâ€
In his remarks, Obaseki noted that, if elected, his administration â€Žwould focus on employment creation in agriculture and entrepreneurial skills, with 200,000 jobs created across the state, in his first four years in office.
The partyâ€™s flag bearer explained that 150,000 jobs would be created in the agricultural sector alone, adding that the template of his administrationâ€™s policy would be published.
He promised to promote technical and vocational education, in recognition itâ€™s role in national development, and provide an enabling environment for the economic empowerment of women in the stateâ€Ž.
While â€Žcommending the achievements of the governor, he also pledged to build on his (Oshiomhole) legacy, through the expansion of infrastructure across the state.
Obaseki said, â€œWe are aware of the reality that governance â€Žoften throws up unexpected circumstances. Yet, me running mate and I can state and pledge here today that we will not fail you.
â€œWe ask you to challenge us to deliver the extraordinary. We want you to broaden your vision for Edo State; tell us the Edo State you want and it will become the Edo State that we will build together.â€
Earlier, the State Chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua, noted that the â€Žparty had achieved 100 per cent in reconciling those who were aggrieved over the outcome of the gubernatorial primary.
The party also received some defectors of the PDP into its fold.â€Ž