Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State says the election of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a show of confidence in his ability to take the party to the next level, urging him to do everything possible, as the first chairman of the party, to protect the nation’s democracy.
Speaking the National Chairman and some APC chieftains paid him a visit in his office in Benin City, last Friday, Oshiomhole said “history is on your side as the first elected substantive chairman of our great party”.
He said: “You were a governor before me and you are assuming office at a very delicate period in our national political life not only in terms of the challenges of a new party seeking power at various levels of government including Federal but also at a time when there seems to be a lot of tension in the country and clear frightening security challenges.
“Politics by its very nature generates heat and my leader, God will give you the wisdom to be able to raise the voice of APC in a way that reflects our collective consciousness about the will of the security of the country and yet engage in robust partisan contestations for power.
According to him, “no one appreciates the importance of democracy more than you. As a governor who labored hard to persuade voters to vote for you and you got elected, your tenure was cut short by forces beyond your control and not democratic process and so drawing from your own life experience, I am sure APC will play its role of protecting democracy.”
Oshiomhole said: “I am happy to hear from you that you have already reached out to people who for one reason or the other have feelings that need to be managed. It’s something that should be sustained until everyone is sufficiently able to accept the fact that we have had a congress and we should put it behind us.”
He noted “We have the fortune of having two out of the four contestants which is also a statement about the quality of leaders that we have in our state. It is also on record to say that it was our own son Chief Tom Ikimi, who had the privilege of managing these four political parties without clear cut rules to get all of them to accept to come together to form a mega party.
“I am sure when the history of the party would be written, these pioneering efforts, these robust contributions would be acknowledged. When your person is found to be on the right side of history you would want to claim ownership of him. Our state would be remembered as having contributed leaders that helped to make APC a reality.”
Oshiomhole assured “We would continue to work with him as our leader here and I know working with him, you will be able to draw heavily from his own wealth of experience having been a National Chairman to help you to pilot this big family known as APC.
“Let me assure you that in Edo State, we are committed to giving you all the support you need to succeed. We will continue to work for peace, work for reconciliation and the unity of this party.”
He said, “I know you are also aware of the fracas in the House of Assembly where four Lawmakers chose to be in collision with the law refusing court orders and even boasting that they will never comply with the court order.
“Every right thinking Edo person should appeal to everyone to obey the law particularly even as we speak, we are protected by the same court. The Court Injunction says ‘don’t declare our seats vacant’ and the House obeys it and another court injunction says ‘you are suspended’ and you disobey it because you belong to a Federal ruling party. We can’t go on like that. Be assured that I will do whatever I can to ensure that the rule of law prevails in Edo State.”
Earlier, the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Chief John Odigie Oyegun commended the governor for maintaining neutrality between the two contestants from Edo State.
He said, “I congratulate you for the very able way you were able to pilot the affairs and for the help you gave to me which I am also sure you extended to the other party. I want to say that we in Edo State have been done a great honor. One of us has been chosen as the very first elected chairman of the APC.
The Chairman noted that the healing process of the party is already under way and “I want to pray and offer myself in my new capacity that whatever can be done to bring total peace and harmony, total acceptance to the party in Edo State will be done. We are now in the eye of the storm. You have given us the responsibility to guide the party to victory.
“The whole nation now expects a lot from the party in Edo State so it is my hope and prayer that in the days ahead, we will be able to build the kind of movement in Edo State that will make people outside Edo State say that we entrusted them with national leadership and they are not letting us down” he said.