President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders and campaign team to do all that is necessary, following legal and constitutional means, to win the election.
President Buhari spoke on Friday in Abuja while receiving the APC governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at the State House.
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The President received Pastor Ize-Iyamu alongside Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni; Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, and APC Campaign Chairman for Edo State elections and Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
He charged the party’s leaders to avoid the pitfalls that affected the party’s victory in Rivers, Zamfara and Bayelsa States in the 2019 elections in Edo State.
The President also implored party leaders at the national and state levels to follow the electoral process in an open and transparent manner.
“What I want is a transparent process so that the confidence of the people will be strengthened,” he said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.
Buhari, however, said that with the resolution of the “acute crisis” in the party in Edo State, he was optimistic that the party will regain its pride of place in winning elections, and serving the people.
The President, who congratulated Pastor Ize-Iyamu on his emergence as the party’s candidate in Edo State after a “turbulent process”, assured him of his full support.
The Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, who presented the candidate, told the President that: “Pastor Ize- Iyamu is a seasoned grassroots politician who is loved by his people”.
Buni said the President’s blessings on the candidate further validated the party’s confidence.
The Chairman of the APC Edo State gubernatorial campaign, Governor Ganduje, said in line with the principles of the party, the APC will lead a clean campaign, devoid of acrimony, hatred and violence.
Governor Ganduje said the campaign had started on a good and happy note, with the APC already taking over the state legislature with a majority of 17 out of 24.
Obaseki, a liability – Ganduje
While speaking with State House reporters, he said the party’s candidate was facing an incumbent governor who had not only failed but remained a liability to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ganduje said: “Your question is that we are contesting against a serving governor in Edo State.
“Yes, that is a very important question at this material time.
“It could have been a big problem if the governor performs well while governing his state.
“He could have been an asset to PDP.
“But I assure you that the governor is a liability.
“In fact, it’s even better for us that we are contesting with a serving governor who failed woefully.
“He failed woefully in the area of human development.
“He failed woefully in the area of providing infrastructural facilities to the good people of Edo State, who failed most woefully in the execution of constitutional provision in the state, especially pertaining to the legislature.
“14 members were out of the legislature for 13 good months.
“When we calculated, we saw those 14 legislators are representing 60 per cent of the population.
“All their constituents are unhappy that elected legislators were not given the chance to participate in the legislations in that state.
“In fact, all the legislations made should be considered as illegal.
“So, we are ready to fight somebody who has failed and it’s an advantage to us.”
‘Good governance, my target’
In his response, Pastor Ize-Iyamu assured the President of his commitment to ensuring good governance in the state if elected in September elections.
Ize-Iyamu, who recalled that he served as Deputy Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee of the APC at its formation, said he was glad to return to the APC and described his initial exit as that of a “prodigal son”.
The APC candidate thanked the President for the warm and fatherly reception, saying he was honoured to receive the party’s flag from the President.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu told State House reporters that he was fully in charge of his campaign as a popular candidate who served the State as Chief of Staff and Secretary to State Government in previous administrations.
He also said former APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had already explained that his initial unfriendly comments during the 2016 campaigns were purely political aimed at giving another candidate an edge in the elections.
All APC governors working for victory – Bagudu
The Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, said all APC governors were working to ensure victory for the party at the September 19, 2020 governorship elections.
Bagudu, who said it was “laughable” for anyone to suggest that the party’s governors were not backing Pastor Ize-Iyamu, stressed that they were not only part of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting that endorsed his candidacy but were also involved in the formation of the campaign team.
He said they offered similar support to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in 2016 when he presented Governor Godwin Obaseki as the party’s candidate.
Bagudu said: “The question has been asked whether all APC governors are in full support of our candidate and the simple answer is yes.
“It is laughable to suggest otherwise.
“Progressive Governors’ Forum was solidly behind our party in the resolutions that were reached on June 25 that saw the emergence of the caretaker committee that saw the ratification of the candidature of Pastor Ize-Iyamu and we have consulted with the chairman of the caretaker committee in putting in place the campaign committee which is ably chaired by the Governor of Kano State and supported by other governors.
“And since the candidate emerged and the ratification, all the APC governors have been working in different ways to ensure the success of our party and let me just remind some of you, this is not different from what we have done before.
“Four years ago, we were in the same Edo State in very difficult election and we supported the incumbent governor then, Adams Oshiomole, to campaign for the party which saw the emergence of Godwin Obaseki as governor.
“What we are doing today is not different.”