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Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole said at the weekend he had no regret inviting former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida to the 'one man, one vote' rally. He said it was high time Nigerians did away with politics of exclusion.

The governor said the objective of the forum was to engage people of different political persuasions across the country on proffering solutions to the nation's electoral problems. That, according to him, had been met 'and I am satisfied that it was a huge success,' he said.

Oshiomhole said he had no regret, inviting the former military president to the Edo rally held last week in Benin, adding that he would repeat it if given the opportunity. 'We should work together. No politician can be more principled than Balarabe Musa; no one made more sacrifice than this man. He stayed behind and spoke his mind. I think we should work together to reform the electoral system,' the governor said.

Babangida, who has signified his intention to contest next year's presidential election has been variously criticized for annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by late Chief Moshood Abiola.

Speaking in Benin, Oshiomhole said the presence of Babangida was appropriate since he was a former ruler of the country. He added that apart from former leaders of the country that were invited, the Acting President sent a representative while most of the governors that came were from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In his view, shutting the door against people considered to be anti-democracy was not the solution.

'The objective was clear', he said: 'To assemble people across political parties, to renew campaign for electoral reform, which we called 'one man one vote.' I don't believe in politics of exclusion. That was why we threw open the invitation.'

He continued: 'politics of exclusion is not helpful. Democracy is also politics of tolerance. My trade union training allow me to engage my opponent, not to avoid him. That is the kind of constructive engagement that this political environment deserves. The ultimate is to bring in those who are not yet on board. And I restated that it was not a partisan gathering. I respect the judgment of those who boycotted it, but I do not agree with it.'

It would be recalled that some leaders of the Action Congress (AC) and Professor Wole Soyinka shunned the much publicized Edo rally because of the presence of Babangida and others.