Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has said that remaining in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) instead of defecting back to the All Progressives Congress (APC) as some of his political associates in the APC are advising him to do is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s integrity mantra. The governor defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after he was disqualified from contesting in the governorship primary election for Edo by the APC. Obaseki went on to win the election on the platform of the PDP. He polled 307,955 votes to defeat Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the APC, who secured 223,619 votes.
Speaking with journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Rock on Friday, the governor said leaving the PDP for the APC goes “against Buhari’s gospel of integrity”. Obaseki said he should be dealt with if he attempts to become a “godfather” after his time in office.
According to him, godfatherism does not have a place in Edo.The governor praised the president for his stance in the election despite being the leader of the country’s ruling party.
”So, this morning we are here in the villa to show our profound gratitude and appreciation for this, which on the surface will look normal but the implications are very far reaching. Because, this is a sitting president whose party’s was contesting an election and insisted that the right thing be done and a level playing field be created for contestants. By doing so, that singular action has deepened our democracy, far beyond what we can understand and imagine today,” he said.
”So, for that act alone, we felt we must come and say thank you. Mr President in his characteristic humorous manner, said he reluctantly congratulated me for beating his party. He also pointed that his role first we foremost as president of Nigeria, is to be president of all regardless of your party, race, tribe, creed. We couldn’t ask for more from Mr President, he really played the role of a statesman.”
On whether he will return to the APC, Obaseki said: ”Gleaning from the comments of Mr President, he said that he wants to leave a democracy that is built on integrity, accountability and hard work. Those were his words and I subscribe totally to that. It will not show integrity; it will not demonstrate somebody that has ethical or moral foundation to do what you asked about. I couldn’t have contested in one party, won on that party and then consider moving to another party. It is not the kind of thing to do, it’s not the right thing to do and I am sure you will not encourage me to do that.”
Responding to a question on whether he will become a godfather after his term in office, the governor said: ”In the case of godfathers in our politics, I have said in several fora that the whole concept of godfatherism is very dangerous to our democracy. And that is why when we came into the political fray 2006/2007, the mantra then was to get rid of godfathers from our political life.
”The reason is simple, the godfather has no constitutional responsibility, the godfather acts outside the constitution and controls people who are constitutional players. So, if we allow that sort of situation to continue, it will be worse than military rule. When people who have nothing at stake, no checks and balance, just arbitrarily decide that this is the way the constitution should be interpreted or constitutional players should operate, that’s why problems come in.
”God forbid I become a godfather, I should be dealt with accordingly because it’s dangerous to the concept of democracy.”