By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, on Friday, June 19, this year, formally joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Benin, the state capital after resigning his membership of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The Same day, Obaseki stormed the Legacy House office of the PDP in Maitama, Abuja, to obtain his Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for the governorship election.
The next day, which was Saturday, June 20, the Governor was at the Wadata House headquarters of the PDP in Wise, Abuja, to undergo his screening.
When Obaseki appeared before the Hon. Kingsley Chinda-led PDP screening committee on Edo governorship primary election, he answered the various questions put to him and tendered his credentials to the committee.
After the exercise, the Governor fielded questions from journalists who had waited patiently for hours for the screening exercise to be concluded.
Our correspondent, Lateef Ibrahim, who was at the event, captured the interview session below.
- Why exactly are you here at the PDP headquarters?
A: I am here before the screening committee of the Peoples Democratic party, to screen me for the office of the governor of Edo state election slated to hold on September 19.
As you are already aware, I have done consultations with my constituents and my former party, and I made the decision to join the PDP and that decision was consummated yesterday (Friday). I went to the state Secretariat of PDP in Edo state yesterday to pick up membership card and also came into Abuja to pick up my Expression of interest and Nomination forms. And with the kind leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, they have been kind enough to admit me into the party and organised this screening for me.
- What certificate did you present and generally how was the screening exercise.
A: The screening was fair. It was very professionally done. You could see objectivity and I presented all my certificates, my secondary school, higher school, university and my National Youth Service Corps certificated, so that they can look at it and see if there are inconsistencies in them and you can ask the screening committee if there are any inconsistencies in any of them?
Q: There is an unconfirmed report that you still enjoy the sympathy of APC governors.
A: I thank God that I still enjoy national support, not just support from my colleagues from the APC. I think the support is national. There are elder statesmen who are apolitical, there are traditional rulers. I have people from different spectrum of the society who come around to solidarize with me and support me. I think Nigerians are generally fair minded people. They are people who do not accept injustice. From what I have seen over the past several weeks and months, the support is just across the board. It is not just from APC governors alone.
Q: Now that you are covered by the umbrella, how prepared are you for the primary’s knowing that there are already three other aspirants on ground?
A: Well, I am not a dividing candidate. I am speaking with all the aspirants. My hope and purpose for the PDP is to have a united and very strong party.
Party primary should not be divisive because we, as party members, are focused on the same objective and because we are separate individuals, our approaches may be different. So party primary, in my view, should not be acrimonious and destructive. And there are common grounds, common interest and i am very very hopeful that I will get it even as there are quite a number of delegates for the exercise.
Q: Political parties all over the world are built on ideologies. You have just left the APC that call themselves progressives to the PDP that are more of conservatives. How will you handle this switch to avoid a clash?
A: My experience is that having served four years as a governor, I don’t see that ideological divide, it doesn’t exist. I think the focus for me is development. Whether you are a conservative or a progressive, it is expected that the outcome should be development. And unfortunately, I get a bit confused in the APC that at some point, I was being accused of not sharing the money.
When we were campaigning against PDP, we said that the problem there was that they were sharing the money. So for me, it cannot be about ideology. At this point in time, it is important that I will provide strong and correct leadership, provide a direction for the country and our people, provide the basic amenities that they need, education, health care and good infrastructure among others. These are the things that our people are yearning for. These are the things that we are doing in Edo state today.
So, as a progressive or as a conservative, my ideology is about the people, getting the people to enjoy the benefits of democracy.
Q: What is you message to those political parties that wooed you but you eventually settled for the PDP?
A: I believe they made overtures to me because they believe that we share something in common, that there is something I can offer their platforms. So my message is that those hopes and aspirations which they were hoping for, which was the reasons they wanted me to join their parties, it can still be realised under this platform of the PDP. I will encourage them and woo them to join me in the PDP.