Jubilant residents of Benin on Sunday took to the streets celebrating the re-election of Adams Oshiomhole as Governor of Edo State. Punch Nigeria news reports:
Oshiomhole received the nod for his second term in office by polling 477,478 votes to beat his closest rival, Maj.-Gen Charles Airhiavbere (retd.) of the Peoples Democratic Party who garnered 144,235 votes in Saturday’s election in the State.
The residents defied the downpour and danced round the city in long convoy of vehicles. Many jubilant youths rode on top of cars and buses and held aloft brooms, the symbol of Oshiomhole’s Action Congress of Nigeria.
Some of the youth performed stunts and chanted “Oshio Baba,” and “Osho Baba,” continuously.
The re-elected governor later joined the crowd at the city centre to move round Ring Road, Sapele Road, Ogbelaka Street and Sakponba Road in the capital city.
Before 8 .30am, traffic had almost come to a halt within the city. Commercial motorcyclists, bus and taxi drivers, artisans and traders had all taken hold of brooms which they waved rhythmically as they danced round town.
Elated young men and women gave each other handshakes and shared drinks as they celebrated.
Before Oshimhole joined the celebration dance, the crowd had defied gun-toting security personnel to congregate at the gate of the governor’s residence.
Few minutes after the celebration kicked off, following gunshots within the Government Reservation Area to signal victory, rain began. But rather than bowing to the downpour, the jubilant crowd became more ecstatic. And more people—both the old and the young—joined the victory party.
“Our mumu don do. Comrade is back and better. Yes, I voted yesterday and I voted for the comrade governor. Edo is in good hands,” one of the celebrants, Omo Ojeifo, told one of our correspondents.
Addressing the supporters, Oshiomhole, who described his victory as a true reflection of people’s wish, said he would bring development to every part of the state.
He said, “God has blessed our project. It is finished. Now is the time to give thanks to God, that today, a Holy Sunday, the people of Edo State have spoken across Edo South, across Edo Central, across Edo North. Our people are united by a common desire to build a new Edo State; to consolidate on our projects and together to take Edo State to the next level.
“I thank you for standing on your feet. On our feet, we shall fight for freedom; we shall never go on our knees. You young ones must remember that this fight was and is for your tomorrow. It’s for your freedom, your right to choose who governs you. We must make a statement that election riggers are out of business. What we owe is to sustain the development programmes.”
The governor also briefed journalists after attending a thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Catholic Church on Sunday in Benin. He said the outcome of the poll had shown that Edo people were one and a united people.
He said, “The election has dealt with ethnic considerations in conducting elections in Edo State. Edo people have shown that merit will now determine the winner of elections. Edo people have shown that their vote is not for sale. Never again will anyone who is not the choice of the people be declared winner of any election.
“The vote has helped my task to unite the people of Edo State. Edo is not an artificial wall. All of us come from Benin. All of us accept that Oba of Benin, Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, is our father and we recognise it.”
The governor said he would go straight to work, having passed the period of apprenticeship during his first tenure.
“We will transform Edo State to a level that the forces of darkness will no longer take over power in Edo State,” he declared.
He said he was extending his hand of friendship to his opponents, whose commitment to the development of Edo State spurred them in the first place into the contest.
“I promise to extend goodwill and the benefit to all our people without any form of discrimination. They should work with me. There is enough space for all of us,” he said.
Oshiomhole praised the Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Kassim Gaidam, who he said, “demonstrated an uncommon quality of leadership and service to his fatherland” and had proved that there could be credible people in the Independent National Electoral Commission.
But he called for the resignation of the INEC National Commissioner in charge of the South-South, Dr. Ishmael Igbani, who he accused of creating the hiccups that allegedly delayed polling in Oredo Local Government Area on Saturday.
He said having presided over elections that were annulled by the court, Igbani, who was also a national commissioner during the days of Prof. Maurice Iwu at INEC Chairman, had no business organising elections anymore in Nigeria.
He also called on the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to investigate how some ballot papers got into the hands of “one of the political parties that had become notorious for election rigging.”
He also showed his appreciation to the National Youth Service Corps members, students, the military, the police and all other security agencies that participated in the election.
He said the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police on Saturday defended the right of Edo people to have their say in who governed them.
But the governor said he was moved by the news of the death of three policemen and one INEC ad hoc staff, in a boat accident while taking election materials to a voting centre in Ologbo, Ikpoba/Okha Local Government Area.
“The Edo State Government will support their families financially and otherwise so that they will not lack,” he said.