An APC governorship candidate in the upcoming Edo governorship elections, retired Maj.-Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, on Sunday debunked reports that he had withdrawn from the governorship race.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen in Benin, Airhiavbere said that he had no reason to withdraw from contesting the election, scheduled for Sept. 19.
He said that he was very much in the race, having been the first of five candidates to indicate interest to contest for the plum job on the platform of the APC.
Airhiavbere pointed out however, that because of the situation of the party in Edo and the differences of members of the party with Gov. Godwin Obaseki, all the five APC aspirants had agreed to have a consensus candidate.
According to him, the decision of the contenders to settle for a consensus candidate at the end of the day is to reflect the unity of the five aspirants after the primaries.
“We believe that when the time table is out from the national working committee of the party and the state chapter comes up with its guidelines, we can all enter the field.
“What we are doing right now is what we call mosquito campaign, trying to make sure that we woo our various groups to ensure that once a candidate appears, we can all work together.
“Nobody wants the experience of what happened in 2015/2016 election through which the present governor emerged.
“This is because many people were angry after spending lots of money.
“We don’t want such situation again. We don’t want acrimony after the primaries and that is why we have decided on a consensus candidate.”
The APC chieftain, who had earlier contested against Obaseki in the 2016 governorship primaries, said that the party was divided in the state because of the governor’s stand and his failure to recognise what party leaders in the state did for him.
“We have agreed that to achieve a unified government and accept the outcome of the primaries, we must present only one candidate and we are working towards it.
“We don’t believe that there is anybody in the field that is doing anything spectacular because we agreed that whatever anybody does, he is doing so on behalf of all of us.’’
Asked if Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu has not become a leading contender among the five aspirants, Airhiavbere said that Ize-Iyamu had been out of the APC before his recent return to the party.
Airhiavbere said that Ize-Iyamu was merely re-establishing his membership in the APC.
“But we have been here. We started the Edo State People’s Movement, which will be a year older in a few days.
“Pius Odubu, Chris Ogiemwonyi and myself founded the Help Edo Remove Obaseki Coalition. So we believe that anybody coming in is to strengthen the coalition.
“We expect that more aspirants will still come to join the race before the primaries because primaries are expected to be conducted between June 2 and June 27.
He noted that it was unfair for the PDP to win senatorial elections in Edo South and Edo Central as was seen in last general elections, when APC was the party in power in the state.
“It was a slap on our faces. So we needed to strengthen the party so that at the end of the day APC will take the day.
“Edo State happens to be the only APC state in the South-South and the state that produced the national chairman of the party.
“Therefore, our result during the last presidential and national assembly elections was an abysmal failure.
“We started this struggle since May 2019 and we intend to take it to a peaceful end by winning the forth coming governorship election in Edo State,” said Airhiavbere.