Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, says the emergence of Godwin Obaseki as the winner of the Edo state governorship election signals the end of godfatherism in Nigeria.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday declared Obaseki, incumbent governor of Edo and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the winner of the election.
Obaseki secured 307,955 votes across 18 local government areas to defeat Osagie Ize-Iyamu, his closest rival and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 223,619 votes.
The loggerheads between Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole, former national chairman of APC, in the build-up to the election, had spawned into a crisis in the state chapter of the party.
The governor defected to the PDP after the APC disqualified him from contesting in the party’s primary election.
Obaseki alleged that Oshiomhole was angry with him because refused to be used in his (Oshiomhole’s) plan to become godfather in the state.
Failing to settle the dispute, Oshiomhole threw his weight behind Ize-Iyamu and vowed to see to it that Obaseki is defeated at the poll.
Reacting to Obaseki’s victory in a statement posted on his official social media pages, Atiku said there is a new dawn in Edo state, adding that “no victory could be sweeter than that this”.
“There is a new dawn in Edo State, and the hard-won victory of Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki is not just a victory, but a Declaration of Independence from the anti-democratic forces of god-fatherism and militarism,” he said.
“No victory could be sweeter than this, and I heartily congratulate the Governor and the good people of Edo state for their resilience in the face of the forces arrayed against them.
“Edo has a rich history as the centre of Black civilisation, and to this, she is adding a new record as the bastion of Nigerian democracy. This double whammy of ancient and modern glories is a testament to a people who have for centuries set the pace as a beacon of light on the African continent.
“I most heartily congratulate the Peoples Democratic Party, who stood shoulder to shoulder, with the people of Edo and their Government, in good times and bad. We in the PDP have shown that we are not fair-weather friends to the good people of Edo. In good times, we will walk beside you.
In bad times, we will be your loyal ‘comrade’. We will never be a turncoat. We will never abandon the principles we once espoused so that we can dine with our nemesis. Democracy has no nemesis. And this, the PDP has again proved.”
Atiku thanked Ewuare II, Oba of Benin, for the “fatherly role he played as a neutral catalyst for peace”.
According to him, “that this election was, by and large, free from violence, is a testament of the long and effective shadow he casts over his domain”.
The former vice-president called on the people of Ondo to emulate those of Edo in the forthcoming October 10 election by rejecting “the forces of despotism, nepotism, and interlopers”.
“And to the good people of Ondo state, my message to you is that freedom from the oppressive grasp of godfathers and external forces that seek to dominate your will and eviscerate your treasury, is possible. Edo has done it. You can do it too!” he said.
“There is a new wind of democratic change now blowing all over Nigeria. The forces of despotism, nepotism, and interlopers cannot successfully withstand this force. Nigeria shall soon be totally free from these forces, from Kaura Namoda, to Lagos. The only power that will stand in Nigeria is people power, not the power of godfathers, or despots.”