Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos
Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information and one of the national leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), on Wednesday said he won’t be shocked if Governor Godwin Obaseki, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), wins this weekend’s governorship election in Edo state.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with INDEPENDENT, Momoh, former National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), said the APC must work very hard if it must win the election, adding that Obaseki is solid on ground and it will be foolhardy for any serious politician to dismiss him in Saturday’s election.
Momoh who said he wants his party APC to win, however, said he based his opinion on the fact that PDP is a very strong party in Edo, having two out of the three senators in the state as well as the endorsements Obaseki has received from teachers, pensioners and others in the state.
While saying nobody can predict the outcome of the election, he however added that he also expects Ize-Iyamu to emerge victorious given the fact that he is a grassroots politician who has a large followership in the state.
“I won’t be surprised if any of the party wins. If INEC declares Obaseki the winner I won’t be shocked because both candidates are solid on the ground. You cannot say that Obaseki is not solid on the ground”.
“He is very solid and also Ize-Iyamu cannot be written off too. He is also very solid ground. So, we have to wait until after the election to know the winner. The only thing I’m praying for is that there should be no violence.
“Initially, I said APC will overrun Edo state; that was before Ize-Iyamu joined us. When he joined us I said with his exit from PDP, it will be a total victory for APC and total elimination for PDP. Then, we had a problem and Obaseki left and joined PDP.
“Then I said with Obaseki joining PDP, there will be a problem for APC because he won’t go alone. He will move his structures out of APC to PDP. Some people criticized me when I said so but we all saw what happened.
“I also said Edo governorship election will no longer be a tea party for APC. It will be a very tough battle. APC must work hard if they will defeat PDP. I said so having looked at the situation on ground. PDP have two senators, APC has only one. Out of the nine House of Reps members, APC has three, the rest are in PDP”.
In the presidential election, APC has 46 percent, PDP has 54. So, I don’t write off anybody at all. We must work very hard but my own consolation has been and still the fact that Ize-Iyamu is a grassroots politician in Edo state.
“Everybody knows him in Edo and he has massive support at the grassroots level. But Obaseki is the incumbent and he has a lot of supports among the institutions such as traders, teachers, pensioners who have all come out to say that they have endorsed him. These organized bodies are not people you just dismiss like that.
Speaking further, Momoh said Obaseki would have remained in APC if he wasn’t disqualified from participating in the primaries by the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC led by its former national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Momoh, who is a senior lawyer also said those claiming Obaseki will be removed by the court if he wins the election for participating in two primaries are wrong. He argued that the governor only participated in the PDP primaries having been barred from APC.
“Obaseki wouldn’t have left APC if he wasn’t disqualified. Why would he have left? He was disqualified that was why he left. So, people who said he wasn’t qualified because he contested in two primaries don’t know what they are talking about.
“Obaseki did not contest in two primaries. He was prevented from contesting the primaries of APC through disqualification and so, he had to go elsewhere which he has a right to do.
“So, I don’t buy the argument of those who said that he cannot contest in two places. He only contested in PDP primaries after he was prevented from doing so in APC.”