By Goodluck Ikiebe
After months of consultation within and outside Edo State, immediate past Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has declared his entry into the race for the Edo State governorship seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Agba made the announcement in his Ward 3, Uzanu community, in Etsako East Local Government during his final round of consultation, which serves as a prelude to his mega declaration of interest in the race at a meeting with the APC leadership in Benin on Thursday, this week.
While addressing a huge crowd of people in Uzanu and the environs, who converged on the community to receive and listen to their illustrious son, Agba said that before the Thursday formal expression of interest in the governorship to the party and its leadership, he thought it wise to first inform them of his desire to become the Governor of Edo state and to enlist their support.
He said he was prepared for the task of transforming the infrastructure landscape of Edo state, even as he recalled how he deployed his office as Minister in the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari in attracting infrastructure projects to the three senatorial zones of the state.
“I have come here to tell my people of my aspiration to run for the office of the governor of Edo State because it is not enough to continue to talk about the ills but to showcase what the good things that can happen in every corner of the state with my village, which today, I think we can describe as a town or city. It is for that reason that I have decided that I want to run for the office of governor of Edo State,” Agba stated.
He said that if he was elected into the office of governor of Edo State, he would implement the national action plan which he helped to prepare as Minister.
Prince Agba stated that as Minister of National Planning, he helped to put in place action plan for the country’s development, which unfortunately, according to him, no state government had yet implemented.
According to him: “I want to be governor to implement the plans I helped put in place as a Minister. All parts of Edo need development. When I was in government, I showcased what can happen to villages. We will focus on rural development, with multidimensional poverty in the country, we will put a stop to rural-urban drift.
“With rural-urban drift, the urban areas will turn to slums; there would be insecurity in those areas; food prices will go high. These are some of the things we want to deal with. It is not that it is not good to go to the moon like Americans and some other people are doing, but for me, we have to solve our basic problems of food, shelter, health, sanitation and others.”
In a colourful ceremony, marked by pomp, Agba told his community, made up of people across party lines, that he needed their endorsement and support to clinch the ticket of the APC and win the governorship election of the state.
He said as a homeboy he decided to flag off his campaign at his ward because “charity begins at home.”
Comprising members from units 8, 9 and 18, that make up Ward 3, the people came out in their numbers, singing and dancing, to give their support to the immediate past minister and one-time Edo State Commissioner in his bid for the governorship of the state.
Agba reminded them that when he campaigned for former Edo governor, now a Senator, Adams Oshiomhole in 2007, he promised them portable water, good roads, mini stadium, street lights and other social amenities, which he said he fulfilled as Uzanu community and its environs now enjoy the dividends of his promises.
Flanked by his wife, Princess Catherine and other party big wigs both from the ward and state levels, Agba said he would replicate what he did for his community in other communities in the state, noting that development had been arrested in Edo State since the present regime took over from Oshiomhole.
Lending his weight to Agba’s governorship aspiration, a former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in the state, Henry Idahagbon, said Prince Agba was imbued with multiple competencies, pointing out that he was more than qualified to be governor of the state.
Idahagbon said Agba was the engine room of Oshiomhole’s government as a commissioner.
Saheed Oshiomhole from Etsako West described Agba as a man of uncommon character and intelligence, adding that he was a well organised person who had demonstrated his capabilities as a commissioner and minister.
According to him: “I believe with him, the development of rural areas will be accomplished.”
Others who endorsed his aspiration included Edith Ayeni, with the moniker Mama Africa from Owan West, Hon. Otaru Benson, who spoke on behalf of 24 local government councilors from Edo North, who were sacked by Governor Godwin Obaseki’s government. They promised to work for the realisation of Agba’s candidacy.
Sylvanus Igbogbo, a former Igueben local government chairman, also backed the aspiration of Agba, among others who spoke during the ceremony. The convoy later moved to Agenebode, headquarters of Etsako East Local Government Area, in continuation of the final round of consultation with community and local government leaders.