- Says we’ve met to resolve our differences
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, yesterday raised hope of an earnest end to the war of attrition between him and his predecessor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, who is now the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC).
He said in Benin City that he had met with Oshiomhole and efforts were being made to resolve issues created by those he referred to as third parties in the state.
He reiterated his position that there are no fundamental issues between them.
Obaseki spoke during a mass at the St. Paul Catholic Church, Benin City, to mark the 80th birthday of the first executive governor of the state and Oshiomhole’s predecessor as APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
The simmering crisis of confidence between Obaseki and Oshiomhole blew open in the wake of the inauguration of the state House of Assembly during which 14 members-elect who are reportedly loyal to the APC national chairman refused to be inaugurated.
The governor was accused of surreptitiously issuing the proclamation letter for the inauguration of the state legislature, leading to the swearing in of only nine out of the 24-members-elect then.
Efforts to resolve the crisis, including the intervention of the National Assembly, which has asked the governor to issue a fresh proclamation otherwise it would take over the functions of the House of Assembly, have been mired in legal battles.
The faction of the state lawmakers loyal to the governor has secured court orders stopping Obaseki from issuing a fresh proclamation and the National Assembly from carrying out its takeover threat.
However, at the thanksgiving for Odigie-Oyegun’s 80th birthday celebration, Obaseki said the state would soon put the crisis behind it and forge ahead with its developmental strides.
He said: “I thank you very much for the remarkable homily by Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, Catholic Archbishop of Benin Metropolitan See. I listened very attentively and I have taken every word in your remark to heart and very seriously. I want to assure you that we are in pursuit of peace and we will have peace in Edo State.
“We have met – me and my predecessor in office – and fortunately, we do not have any fundamental issues. And because we do not have any fundamental issues, I believe that whatever third parties are trying to propagate, I am sure we can talk over it. I assure you that very soon things will return to normalcy in Edo State.”
He said the state government, in line with the spirit of Nigeria’s national anthem, would not forget the labour of past heroes, which shall never be in vain.
“Today, we are here to celebrate our own Chief Odigie-Oyegun. On behalf of the people and Government of Edo State, I want to congratulate you on your 80th birthday,” Obaseki said.
According to him, the state government has named the soon-to-be-completed Civil Service Training Centre after the celebrant for his contributions to the development of the state and the country at large.
“For your contributions and what you have done for our dear state, I have decided to name the public service academy, which is under construction, after you. We know your passion for public service; we know and acknowledge the contributions you made to the public service in Nigeria. Therefore, we have decided to name this edifice, which will be completed within the next 60 days, by the grace of God, after you. President Muhammadu Buhari will come and commission the academy, with you standing beside him. It will be known as the John Odigie-Oyegun Institute for Public Administration,” he added.
The institute, according to the governor, is on “three floors and is made up of large training rooms that will host 220 people. Two halls hold 118 people each. There are seven training halls that will host 58 people each. There is a library, a sick bay, a cafeteria and 12 offices. This facility at any point in time can hold and train a minimum of 900 people. It will be the largest facility for training public servants in Nigeria.”
Dignitaries that graced the church service to celebrate Odigie-Oyegun include Obaseki’s wife, Betsy; Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and his wife, Betty; Edo State Deputy Governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu; the Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Frank Okiye; Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice Esohe Ikponmwen; minister-designate, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie; National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus; representatives of the Benin Monarch, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II; former Edo State Governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion and Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion.