April 13, 2024

Edo APC Celebrates ‘Fresh Hope’ as Dr. Ernest Umakhihe Flags Off Governorship Campaign

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Dr. Umakhihe with APC Leaders

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By Correspondent

History was made yesterday, January 6, 2024 in Afuze, headquarter of Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State. The occasion was the official flag off ceremony by Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe PhD, and Officer of the Order Of the Niger (OON)

The carnival-like event attracted people from all walks of life. Diplomat, Bureaucrats, Civil Servants, the Nigerian Labour movement, members of the Civil Society, politicians from major political parties and traditional rulers.

As Dr. Umakhihe made his way to the podium, he danced with his wife to the music rendered musician in the local dialect and his energy charged the capacity filled Afuze Mini Stadium.

Edo North political leaders took turn to praise the man they say has done more than ‘government’ for them. Alhaji Abdulhaniyu Lawani, aka Abu Millionaire christened the ceremony as ‘God Devine and historical’, as it signaled the first time the people of Owan Federal Constituency will be indicating interest to vie for the plum position.

“You people know, you don’t see rabbit in the day time. The fact that I am here, should tell you that this is our own.” Abu Millionaire added that Owan people with their huge votes have always supported other aspirants to become governor of the state, and called on Owan people to work this time, for Dr. Umakhihe to become the first governor from Owan.

The crowd defied the scorching sun and waited throughout the over four hours the ceremony lasted to hear the new political sensation in Edo State politics.

He didn’t disappoint them when eventually, took the stage to read his ‘Fresh Hope Agenda’ from a prepared document which he had titled: ‘A Fresh Start For Shared Prosperity.’

Quoting Malcolm X, Dr. Umakhihe energized the surging crowd that: “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” He reminded the crowd also that, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo once said that politics should guaranty the people’s welfare.

“Man is the Alpha and Omega, the only dynamic means and the sole end, of all earthly human activities. All productive activities, if they are to be meaningful, equitable, just and human, should be geared to one and only one goal- the welfare of the individual.” Umakhihe quoted.

And “This has remained my guiding principle and this is why I have stayed with the people and stand with and for the people.”     

Part of his ‘Fresh Hope’ message reads: “Let me begin by thanking God for making it possible for you all to have traveled from far and wide, despite the bad state of our road, to be part of this history making today.

“I am a True Homeboy! A True Edo Man!! Born in Otuo, a pristine rural community in Owan East Local Government Area in Edo North. I had all my education in Edo South and married from Edo Central, Uromi to be precise. 

“We all made this journey for a good reason. Am humbled! I know none of you came this far just to see my face. You came here because you believe in the commitment to deliver Fresh Hope to our dear people of Edo State

“I pray your indulgence to appreciate the leadership of our dear party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Edo State who has held forth over the years, particularly from 2020 when our party became an opposition party in Edo State.

“I salute specifically the courage and care of our dear National Leader, Senator Adams Oshiomhole for his unwavering commitment to the continued growth of the APC in Edo State.

“I applaud the State and Local Government Executive of our party, for your resilience and tenacity in keeping the ship of the APC constantly sailing afloat.

“To the leadership at the various LGAs across the State, I must say you have worked spiritedly like soldiers to establish the relevance of our party.

Dr. Umakhihe reminded the APC faithful of his past contribution to Edo State and the party thus: “It is significant to mention here that, why the leadership of our party at the various levels were doing everything to ensure that the party keeps maintaining her relevance in Edo State, by performing creditably well at every elections, I, Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe have been in the background contributing my quota to the party’s successes.”

He went ahead to outline these contributions. “Having traversed several Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, working with development partners, local and international bodies, as well as in diplomatic circles where I ensured effective coordination and delivery. I am equipped to maximize the resources of Edo State for optimal growth.

“Because of these facts and your commendations, that I have done well and displayed so much competence in my former assignments as a Federal Civil Servant, I have accepted the call on me to come and serve you in the capacity of a Governor.

“I have had extensive experience working with the private sector in delivering projects of Public Private Partnership.

“I hereby yield to all the patriotic calls, because the voice of men they say is the voice of God. In the face of despair, am sure everyone here believes there can be Fresh Hope. Even with failed promises that have shut us out, we must remain hopeful.

“It is that Hope that brought us here today and together we all can rework Edo State to care for us. Before anyone will ask me, why I have chosen this path, at a time I am supposed to be resting, my reply is, I refuse to rest because, there is so much work left to be done.

“The past 35 years of my stewardship as public servant has exposed me to the little things that matters to several people – old and young. I have also discovered that, their voices, especially those without voice or opportunity are left to deal with the challenges.

“And during this period also, I have done much to provide relief to the despair and cushion some of their pains, within and outside my immediate communities through my foundations and in line of my official engagements.”

Probably providing answer to the question of when he joined the APC, Umakhihe said: “Since 2021, when I obtained the membership card of the APC, after the Supreme Court judgment that allows civil servants to be members of political parties, I deliberately ensured as a Permanent Secretary, the facilitation of projects across several communities in Edo State in order to ensure that the party has enough projects to campaign with because as a PS under an APC administration, any project done by my Ministry is automatically to the credit of the party in power.

“That is why you have hundreds of my projects scattered across several communities in our state. But there is still so much work left to be done. Through the grace of God, I have gained experience, training and goodwill which I am now ready to deploy to the service of our dear people.”

Urging his listeners, Dr. Umakhihe called on them to enroll as agents of change. “As we are gathered here today, let us agree that we reduce poverty in our state. My purpose for asking to be voted as Governor is to ensure that every single person willing to work should be able to get a job or the training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and provide quality life. Let’s do this!” He charged.

He enumerated his ‘Fresh Hope Agenda’ to include Accessible Healthcare; Agricultural Revolution; Youth; Empowerment and Entrepreneurship; Women Empowerment; Transportation; SME Growth and Development; Infrastructure and Rural Development.

“I have done it before and would certainly do better if presented with another opportunity. And because The Reward For Hard Work is More Work, I plead with Edo People to Please Give Me More Work to do, so as to serve you better than before.

“Together, even now, let us support the ‘Fresh Hope Movement’ and usher in a new birth of freedom, and emplace a Government with Human Face in our State, come September 21, 2024.”

He concluded his declaration message with Nelson Mandela’s famous words – “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

See Also: Edo Civil Society Organisations Honours Dr Umakhihe with Lifetime Award

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