The two leading contenders for the Edo State governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress, Governor Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, have each paid for and obtained the N22.5m nomination and expression of interest forms, to contest the party primaries slated for June 22.
Ize-Iyamu who was the first to obtain the forms, appeared in person while Obaseki’s supporters under the aegis of Obaseki Mandate Forum, obtained the forms for the governor, after a brief ceremony at the party’s National Secretariat, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
While addressing the media after collecting his forms from the APC National Organising Secretary, Emma Ibediro, Ize-Iyamu said, he was in the race to set the state on the path of development.
Ize-Iyamu said, “In Edo State we have very strong APC leaders and members, who have served this nation in different capacities and in this election that is coming up, many of them wanted to contest, many of them were prevailed upon to contest because of existing situations.
“But thank God for elders amongst us who also reasoned that it will not make sense for all of us to go and collect the form. The important thing is let’s deliberate among ourselves and the one we believe has the best interest of the state at heart let’s support that person.
“That process has been on for quite a while, some even thought it could not work but because of the calibre of those involved, it has worked and some days ago, we had our last meeting and the remaining seven of us we resolved that before picking the form, we should agree on one person and support the person not just with our mouths but with our pockets and so we decided to put money together to support whoever we chose.
“I am happy to announce that at the end of the day I was chosen amongst this formidable group; some of them are here but one or two have to leave because they have other engagements.”
The aspirant further explained that contrary to speculations, he was a pioneer member of the APC but had to leave in 2014 because of some differences over congresses but noted that he had now “returned home.”
He denied claims that the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had endorsed his aspirations.
According to him, Oshiomhole as the party leader could ill afford to endorse an aspirant at this point.
He expressed support for the party’s choice of direct primaries to pick the standard bearer.
Leader of the Obaseki Mandate Forum, FCT chapter, Chief Nathaniel Momoh, who led other members of the forum to pick the forms on behalf of Obaseki, said, fund for the forms was sourced from Edo sons and daughters of like minds.
He said, “This form represents the buy-in- and acceptability of majority of Edo people both at home and in diaspora, who tasked themselves to ensure that their mandate is secured in the candidature of Godwin Obaseki, for September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State.”
In response to the assertion by Ize-Iyamu that he was adopted as the consensus candidate of a group of aspirants who were with him in Abuja, Obaseki’s Director of Media and Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, in a statement said, the candidate of the party will emerge in Benin, the state capital and not Abuja.
Osagie said, “It is, therefore, hilarious to hear that a so-called consensus candidate for the party in Edo State governorship election was selected in Abuja. It is not surprising that the charade was hatched and actuated by Oshiomhole and members of his Edo Peoples Movement, a proscribed dissident group in the state. For us, this is a joke taken too far and clearly shows that Adams Oshiomhole once again has set the APC on a journey to perdition in Edo State as he did in Zamfara, Bayelsa, Rivers, Taraba and several other states.