Andrew Alli, the first son of former governor of Edo State, Ambrose Alli, has endorsed top Nigerian lawyer Asue Ighodalo, who appears to be seeking to replace Governor Godwin Obaseki on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the upcoming state election.
Mr Ighodalo, who hails from Ewohimi, Esan South-East Local Government in Edo Central, was in a viral video on Tuesday, seen addressing his kinsmen at his ward with the help of a hired interpreter. The video prompted claims that Mr Ighodalo could not speak his Esan dialect.
Mr Ighodalo, theco-founder of the top Nigerian commercial law firm Banwo & Ighodalo, told his kinsmen that the development of the state must dominate aspirations of its people.
“I do things in Esan land because we’re not noisy. My brother is here, I’m here, my parents were here. I’m a true Esan boy. I’m not going to use homeboy, because they’ve used it badly. I am an Esan boy, I’m a true Edo boy. I’m a true Nigerian. This is what I am,” he said during the meeting.
“Since 2008, I’ve been in the economic team of the state, starting from the administration of former governor Adams Oshiomhole. Since Godwin Obaseki came in as chairman of the economic team, I have been coming to Edo State to support and advise the government.
“I’ve been advising since 2008, which is 15 years ago, which means I come into Edo State five, six, so many times a year for government business, not to talk of my own business.
“So, people can say what they like. Because we’re not noisy, and because we’re not jumping from one ‘mama put’ to another, does not mean I’m not a true Edo boy. This issue of an Edo boy, this issue of a true son of the soil, is in the heart.
“There are many of our brothers and sisters in the diaspora who are more Edo than many of them who live here. So it’s in the heart, it’s what you do in your heart, it’s not how many pepper soup joints you go. So, all those of us in the diaspora, those of us in the diaspora in Nigeria diaspora abroad, all the best hands must come to develop Edo State.
“Someone cannot sit in the village or in ‘mama put’ and say the rest of us can’t come and develop our state, it’s not done. We must all come together and develop Edo State, plus the people in ‘mama put,’ plus the people in Canada, we must come together and develop Edo State,” he stated.
Throwing his weight behind Mr Ighodalo’s governorship ambition, Mr Alli, in his reaction on his X account on Sunday, stated that Edo people are not bothered about the inability to speak the dialect but are more concerned about who is able to lead the state forward.
“Yes, we don’t give a sh**t. Because we major in the majors. We care about his policies and track record. Not this BS. We know where he went to school, we know how he made his money. We know the engagement he’s been having with EDSG,” his post read.
On Ighodalo being attacked due to his linguistic abilities, Mr Alli said, “If they are attacking Asue because of his linguistic abilities, then that basically says that they can’t attack him on the substance.”
Similarly, prominent Nigerian businessman Aloy Chife backed Mr Alli’s characterisation of Ighodalo, saying, “Absolutely! Well said! We’re privileged to have him put himself forward. A++ candidate.”
Mr Obaseli’s choice of someone from Edo Central to succeed him is said to be in the spirit of fairness as since the return of democracy in 1999, Edo North and Edo South had taken turns to rule the state with Edo Central’s only chance being short-lived by the court after Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor spent only 18 months in office (April 2007 to November 11, 2008).
Other governors and their deputies that had ruled the state since the start of the fourth republic include: Lucky Igbinedion (Edo South) and Mike Oghiadomhe (Edo North), 1999 to 2007; Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North) and Pius Odubu (Edo South), 2008 to 2016; Godwin Obaseki (Edo South) and Philip Shuaibu (Edo North), 2016 which is to end in 2024.
Mr Ighodalo, who has yet to formally announce his ambition, is expected to slug it out with Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu for the PDP’s governorship ticket, which would come after the party’s primaries in early 2024.