Frontline Peoples Democratic Party aspirant in Edo 2024 governorship election, Asue Ighodalo on Wednesday said he has extricated himself from been Adviser to the State government for 16 years, to enable him contest the election and become Governor of the State.
He made the assertion at his formal declaration for the exalted position at the PDP Secretariat on Airport Road in Benin City where he laid out measures in addressing social and economic challenges confronting the State if given the mandate.
According to Ighodalo, “I have been to the government. That is all I have been doing. I came out of my shadow I served as Adviser to the government for 16 years”.
“Many of you may not know this, but beyond my corporate and non-governmental experience, | have been actively engaged with Edo State for the last 16 years.
“During the administration of former Governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, | served on the Economic Team, providing insights and inputs on the development of key government policies, programmes and initiatives, leading to reforms implemented by the then government”, Ighodalo said.
The governorship hopeful promised to give Education, Healthcare security, power and road infrastructure as priority sectors that he would accord due attention.
The aspirant, vowed to initiate economic policies that would uplift the people of the State from poverty and assured that Benin river Port project would be completed if he become the next Governor.
In their separate remarks, Edo South PDP Senatorial Leader, Owere Dickson Imasogie, described Ighodalo as a great unifier, but expressed.his displeasure over the division in PDP, while, the former deputy governor of the State, Mike Oghiadhome who spoke on behalf of PDP leaders in Edo North Senatorial District, threw his weight behind Ighodalo.
Oghiadhome said, “Nobody will see this kind of man and start ruminating for a Candidate on a dust bin”.
He said, “there is nothing I owe this stage now rather than give the right advice that will move Edo State forward.
“At time, I hear people say simple agenda. I have been in government at the most critical level, but I can tell you that the task of governance is critical that requires a man who has the capacity to build the rails and bridges across the State.
“It is our hope that whatever little storm that we have in our party is going to come down”, Oghiadhome said.
Addressing party faithful and supporters, Nigeria former foreign Affairs Minister and PDP leader, Chief Tom Ikimi, commended the State Working Committee of PDP for the milestone recorded in choosing Asue Ighodalo as the sole Aspirant of PDP in the race.
He also revealed ongoing plans by leaders of his party to appease other five aspirants who are still in the race, to pave the way for Asue Ighodalo whom he insisted is the preferred aspirant of the party for the election.
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Asue Ighodalo’s written speech
My beloved people of Edo State,
I welcome you all warmly to this special gathering, and am truly grateful that you have taken time out of your extremely busy schedules to be here today. | thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Over the past few months, | have moved around our dear state, speaking with our people and consulting with stakeholders from nearly every walk of life. | have listened very carefully to the concerns you have raised, and have heard you clearly. Despite your worries, | have felt your enthusiasm and optimism for a better tomorrow. And today, in this defining moment, your presence here leaves me without doubt that our collective hope for that a better future is within our reach. You never stop striving, you never stop showing up, and this – the unbreakable spirit of the great Edo people – is not just remarkable, it is truly inspiring!
You have filled me with so much hope, and you are the reason | stand here today as a proud son of Edo, the greatest state in Nigeria, to share with you my desire to serve as your governor, if you will give me the opportunity to do so – so that we can, together, work to realise the promise of this great state.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, my name is Asuerinme Ighodalo. | am the son of Jeremiah and Folayegbe Ighodalo from Okaigben, Ewohimi, in Esan South East local Government of Edo state. My father, Jeremiah Aghedo Ighodalo, was one of the first people to attend secondary school in Ewohimi. He was a great father and leader – who instilled in me the values of hard work, integrity, humility, and simplicity; all of which have made me who | am today. My mother, Folayegbe, was the first female permanent secretary in Nigeria. From her, I learnt the values of selfless service and dignity in labour. Some of my fondest memories are of the times | spent with my cousins in Ewohimi, playing football, aiming our catapults at birds far away, sneaking a drink of palm wine with my young uncles, and playing in the same Odu river that once generated our electricity.
By God’s special grace and through my parents’ unrelenting hard work, | can say that my story has been one of hope, perseverance and the transformative power of opportunity. My journey, much like the journey of many in Edo state, began in a family where love, integrity , hardwork, determination and faith overwhelmingly outweighed material resources. That foundation has remained my moral compass throughout my life.
I attended King’s College, Lagos and then the University of Ibadan, where I obtained a degree in Economics in 1981. | then proceeded to the London School of Economics and Political Science, graduated with a degree in law in 1984, and thereafter attended the Nigeria Law School in Lagos. In 1985, I was called to the Nigerian Bar.
| began my legal career as an associate at the law firm of Chris Ogunbanjo and Co., where I worked between 1985 and 1991. In 1991, | set up Banwo and Ighodalo in partnership with my friend, Femi Olubanwo. Together, we worked long days and nights, growing our team and business, from just two founders to fifteen partners and more than one hundred lawyers in Our employment today. Through hard work, and by the abiding grace of God, we have successfully built one of Nigeria’s foremost corporate law firms, attracting the best brains in the profession and providing legal services to numerous local and international clients. Until recently, | served as Chairman on the boards of Nigerian Breweries, Sterling Bank, the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Dangote Flour Mills, Levene Oil, Global-Mix Development Company, and I served on the board of Okomu Oil Palm Picone of the largest corporations in Edo state. | have also sat on the boards of other public, private, and non-governmental organisations, including the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Cardinal Stone Partners, the Christopher Kolade Foundation and FATE Foundation. | also serve on the Management Committee of the Metropolitan Club, the most prestigious club of gentlemen in the Country.
Many of you may not know this, but beyond my corporate and non-governmental experience, | have been actively engaged with Edo State for the last 16 years. During the administration of former Governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, | served on the Economic Team, providing insights and inputs on the development of key government policies, programmes and initiatives, leading to reforms implemented by the then government. Under | leadership of our current Governor Goc Obaseki, | also served as Chairman of Alaghodaro Economic Summit Limited/ a private sector think-tank that has, ove the last seven years, organized the ann Alaghodaro Summit in this state and me recommendations that have contributec attracting substantial investments into t. State, over the last 7 years.
My background, spanning both the public and private sectors, has shaped my understanding of the systemic challenges our people face in Nigeria today. And through the work of my foundation, The Jeremiah and Folayegbe Ighodalo Foundation, | understand, at a deeply human level, the everyday struggles of our peoplestruggles just to make ends meet, to provide for their families, and to give their children a better life than they’ve had. These are the yearnings that fuel my commitment to serve Edo State, with my whole being.
While, in the past, | have advised our leaders on how to resolve some of these problems, today, | am here to ask you for the opportunity to act – beyond giving advice – to deliver real solutions, that can unleash the promise of a new future for all of us. As governor, by the grace of God, my mission will be to create an Edo where quality education is accessible to all, where hard work is rewarded and where our talented youth can turn their dreams and aspirations into reality. | believe in the promise of an Edo where every person, regardless of their start in life, can write their own story of success -if we take the right steps, together.
My policies as governor — if you will give me your mandate – will be focused on unlocking this promise, for all of us, in key areas. My ultimate objective is to lead a government that eliminates deprivation in all its forms, and makes Edo the best place to live and work in Nigeria. Our economic policies will uplift the poor, support the hard-working men and women of this state, and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
No part of Edo will be left behind. From the high plains of Kukuruku to the lush vegetation of Ilushi; from the rich, red sands of Sakponba, to Esanlands’ incredible biodiversity, we have all that is needed to make our state a mesmerizing destination for progress and wealth. Across each administrative zone, in Edo North, Edo Central and Edo South, we will create practical and focused economic development teams that will harness each area’s unique potential to create wealth for all our people.
I believe strongly that education is the gateway to opportunity, so we will continue to invest in education as a priorityfrom primary schools to secondary and tertiary institutions — throughout the state. We will ensure that our educational system becomes a beacon of hope, and ladder to opportunity. We will make Edo
State’s educational system our key to ending generational poverty, for good, in our great state.
If, by the grace of God and the will of the people of Edo state, | am given the opportunity to serve, | intend to be the Chief Welfare Officer of the state, providing good and affordable healthcare, decent living conditions and basic food security for all our people. We will also tackle insecurity in all of its forms. While an improved economy will reduce some types of insecurity, we will work doggedly to stamp out the more stubborn forms of insecurity, that continue to deprive our people of their lives and property.
Ending insecurity will not only mean that we can protect our people, it will allow us to maximise the potential economic advantages of our rich cultural heritage. Under the guidance, and with the blessings of our traditional fathers, we will be able to leverage our history and talent to create the cultural environment that will drive a robust tourism economy — proudly and respectfully rooted in the very essence of who we are as a people.
Of course, no part of Edo can truly develop without the necessary infrastructure to facilitate growth. We will make it our urgent and pressing priority to build and maintain high-quality roads across Edo state, and take advantage of our unique location to connect our people to even greater opportunities, that will flow from the passage of travellers transiting through our state. Beyond roads, we will build rail networks across the senatorial zones that will allow us to move not just our people and tourists but also agricultural produce, economic goods and finished products across, and beyond the state. We will continue and conclude ongoing plans to develop the Benin Port, infrastructure that will raise real inclusive growth in the state substantially and qualitatively.
To improve access to electricity, we will invest in replicating the success of the Ossiomo independent power project, across the three senatorial zones and explore affordable ways of providing electricity in rural areas. We will create an enabling environment for businesses and people to thrive across the state, and activate economic corridors that will connect our value added goods and Services to domestic and global markets.
These are not simply ambitious dreams; they are carefully thought-out and financially achievable plans. With innovative financing and cross-sector partnerships, we will access the financial resources to fund these projects, and more. My personal experience, local and international networks, and decades of negotiating, fundraising and project finance experience are part of what | will bring to bear to achieve our goals.
I am particularly excited at the opportunities that we will be able to unlock, to engage the passion and ingenuity of our youth, who are the shining lights of this state. My greatest desire is for their creativity and latent energy to be unleashed positively upon our country and world.
To you: Young Edolites, I Know you are tired of people telling you that you are the future. Well, I am here to tell you that your time is NOW. I see in our eyes the sparkling desire for a greater state committed to your growth. You are endowed with fresh ideas and incomparable talent. In a sense, my aspiration to serve is about you; I want you to have access to the opportunities that you deserve TODAY, not tomorrow. I want you to be able to acquire and leverage new skills to secure jobs that will ensure that you become better than all of us, your parents. I am promising the youth today that under my watch, your futures will be activated when I am elected governor, by God’s grace.
These are the reasons I am here today, with the greatest humility, to formally declare my intention to run for the office of the Governor of Edo State on the platform of our great Party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. And to respectfully seek the support of all Edo State people everywhere, male and female, old and young, those at home and those in the diaspora without whom true progress is impossible.
“Let us shun the narratives that seek to divide us, and come together, as one, to build the bridges that will lead us to prosperity. Let us strive to be the best, because only the best is good enough for us all.”
My people, let us build an Edo State where all that will matter would be our talent, creativity, and courage. Let us build an Edo State where all our people are seen as equal, regardless of gender, tribe or religion, where we are better able to understand and accommodate each other, where our diversities enrich our common pursuit of progressive development and where we completely eradicate poverty. I genuinely believe that it is possible for us to fulfil this Edo Promise and build the Edo State of our dreams.
They say home is where the heart beats. My heart beats for Edo.
Together, and by God’s special grace, we will build an Edo State that we can all be proud of, a state that is an exemplar for all of Nigeria to emulate.
I thank you all for your trust, your support and your faith. And | thank you again, for being here.
God bless you, and may God bless Edo State.
Asuerinme Ighodalo . January 17th 2024.