By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – AFTER several weeks of horse-trading, negotiations that nearly broke down, six governorship aspirants namely Dr. Pius Odubu, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Major Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), Hon. Johnson Agbonyima, Saturday Uwulekhue and Prof. Ebegue Amadasun have stepped down for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as their consensus governorship aspirant to contest for the June 22 governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC). A seventh aspirant, Solomon Edebiri was said to have voluntarily withdrawn from the race.
Naija247news gathered that the negotiation for the aspirants to agree on a consensus was reached Tuesday night in Abuja and Ize-Iyamu was said to have come tops after screening by a committee set up for the selection exercise.
The screening committee was headed by former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Francis Alimikhena while other members included former Edo Deputy Governor Lucky Imasuen; Gen. Cecil Esekhaigbe (rtd); ex-Edo Speaker Thomas Okosun; former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives Samson Osagie; ex-member of the House of Representatives Patrick Obahiagbon and Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason.
Ize-Iyamu and incumbent governor Godwin Obaseki are now to square up for the APC governorship ticket on June 22.
Confirming the development, State Secretary of the party, Lawrence Okah said “We are going with him to pick the form now. There is harmony in the family. We just have one common enemy, Obaseki should go. That’s all”.
It was learnt that all the aspirants in the contest have jointly contributed to buy APC’s N22.5 million Nomination and Expression Interest Form for Ize-Iyamu.
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A statement by the Director of Communication of Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation, John Mayaki shortly after he picked the nomination form described it as “another stride in the quest to move Edo State forward.”
He said: “By obtaining the form today, we have formally placed our name on the party’s ballot for our internal primary next month. It is another great stride and we are thankful to the other aspirants who have joined us here today to offer support.”
“There have been efforts to cause disunity in our party and pit people against each other by those who have sadly embraced politics without principles and are openly rebelling against the leadership of our party because they believe they have absolute power. But as it is clear from today’s event, Edo APC is united and these deviants may have a loud voice but they don’t represent the majority.
“Everyone here may have personal ambitions but we are bound together by the common desire to fast-track the transformation of our state through a transparent, effective, and accountable governance that will improve the living standards and social well-being of our people.”
Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki Wednesday expressed confidence that he would win a second term in office despite the crisis in the party.
Speaking on a national television monitored in Benin City, the governor said:
“I am not a violent person. But I am confident that the way I got into power is the same way I will return. God gave me power. If he wants me to return I will continue. No man can stop me. Power comes from God.”