My attention has been drawn to a publication in the Vanguard newspaper of May 12 2021 of the resolutions of the above meeting. When I was first alerted of this development through social media, my immediate reaction was to ignore it in the best overall interest of the Edo State PDP party but this full-page advert portrays unwarranted mischief that must be addressed.

While in Abuja I received a phone call inviting me to a meeting with the Governor on Saturday 8th May at Government House Benin City. I travelled to Benin City on Friday 7th May with no knowledge of all who were invited until I arrived at the meeting venue. It was however very satisfying to me to participate in a close meeting with the Governor & Deputy Governor including a number of eminent leaders of our State. Our discussions were robust and frank.

The Governor must have had a high level of confidence in selecting the persons invited to exchange views with him. I must however express my deepest shock by the action of a participant at that meeting that could not handle with due discretion and decorum information derived from a meeting at that level and has proceeded to misinform the State Working Committee and in fact the general public. In view of the rather misleading assertions in the published resolution I would make the following clarifications:

1. The movement of Governors and leading political figures from one political party to the other is not a new phenomenon in our country. In the PDP I happen to have served in a special Committee that handled such negotiations recently and it is indeed a breakthrough to receive such caliber of members. A Governor or leader joining your party would only do so if among other things he retains his status level. All Governors who have relocated have done so as a joint ticket ie Governor and Deputy Governor and the equitable sharing of structures is fundamental in the exercise. Retaining the tradition of the party, the Governor as soon as he becomes a member of the Party he assumes the role of State Leader of the Party. The State Chairman and the State Exco should from then on operate in consultation with the Governor.

2. Governor Godwin Obaseki came into the PDP very strong, the strategic late timing of his arrival notwithstanding. He brought in eminent political leaders, virtually the entire former APC Exco, all members of the State House of Assembly, all elected Local Government Chairmen and virtually all councillors. The Edo State PDP had none of these except a newly put together State Exco which is full of controversy. I was abroad during the so-called State Congress process and it is absolute fiction that I had any candidates that lost in it at any level. I am however aware that virtually all eminent party leaders distanced themselves from the charade. There were a lot of disputes, with some in court and I may recall the one vigorously pursued by the late Rt Hon Zakawanu Garba. It is impossible to have a successful negotiation with such a group now.

3. PDP had the Governorship of Edo State from 1999 to 2007. I was a founding member of AC (Action Congress) which I established in Edo State in 2007 and won the Governorship that year. In 2011 the Party transformed to ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) and again we won the Governorship in Edo State. I was a founding member of APC in 2014 but had to leave the party in 2015. PDP has been out of power in Edo State for over 12 years. Some of us now in the party wanted that situation changed and thank God we have succeeded. It seems the Edo PDP has for all these over twelve years retained a clique leadership that for some reason feels comfortable remaining in the opposition. The PDP arrangement in the South-South Zone pairs up Edo State closely together with Delta State, Rivers State closely with Bayelsa State and Akwa Ibom State closely with Cross Rivers State. Edo and Delta States have long since rekindled their historic brotherly relationship of Midwestern Nigeria or Bendel and with our own Governor now the independence of Edo State must be protected and respected. Just before the entry of Governor Godwin Obaseki into the Edo PDP the Party lost a major player Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu who departed with a large chunk of PDP members. There is no doubt whatsoever that the entry of Obaseki into the PDP in so many ways guaranteed the landslide victory. All those he came with need to be accommodated and blended into the PDP party.

4. At the National level the PDP today has clearly stated that no matter when you join the party you are given equal opportunity as any other member. When leaders join they must be accorded positions commensurate with their status. We cannot have in the party, for smooth running, any members recognized as “former APC” or “former PDP” existing at the different levels creating extreme division and confusion. Therefore, it makes good sense to execute the Biometric Registration of all members both new and old so that everyone becomes an unadulterated PDP member. The Party structure should then be dissolved and made open for reconstruction. The harmonization of members of the two parties would then become a hitch-free seamless process. Those who hold office now can still re-contest or be accommodated in other ways. This view I have freely expressed several times on different occasions and I am very convinced it is the best way forward.

5. In my assessment Governor Godwin Obaseki is very keen on setting up an efficient working structure for the State and is planning for many years ahead. We must provide him with a realistic basis to enable the fair choice of a working team.

High Chief Tom Ikimi CON

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