One of the 12 All Progressives Congress governorship aspirants in Edo State, Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, on Thursday, announced his withdrawal from the race.

Agbonayinma, a former member of the House of Representatives, announced his withdrawal from the governorship race following the news of his son’s death.

Agbonayinma’s 23-year-old son, Osazuwa Agbonayinma, was said to have been killed by a gunman in Houston, Texas, USA.

It would be recalled that Agbonayinma was the first aspirant to officially inform the leadership of the APC that he would be contesting the election when he visited the state secretariat in October 2023.

Addressing his supporters and members of the party in the Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area on Thursday, Agbonanyinma thanked his supporters and urged them to stay united and back whoever emerges at the party’s flagbearer in Saturday’s primary election.

He said, “Over a year ago, I decided to give serious consideration to the calls from well-meaning Edolites at home, and in the Diaspora, on the dire need to change the political narrative in Edo State, while expressing confidence in my ability to champion the cause of moving Edo State forward.

“So, I began consultations with my family, friends, close allies, leaders of our great party, traditional rulers, religious leaders, opinion leaders, and media influencers across Edo State and the nation on my interest to contest in the 2024 Edo governorship race.

“To the glory of God, the positive reception has been overwhelming. I am eternally grateful for the individual and collective efforts for this success.

“At the height of this success, my family suffered a very tragic development. My 23-year-old and very promising son, Osazuwa Michael Agbonayinma (Zuwa), was fatally shot and killed in Houston, Texas, USA. I have just returned from the United States after my son was buried. This is a very bitter experience that cannot be wished even upon an enemy.

“Presently, my family and I are highly devastated. And I am not in the right frame of mind to continue any serious political campaign at this time. After due consultations and consideration, I am suspending my gubernatorial campaign at this time. We need some quiet time to grieve and heal.”

He thanked his supporters for their “overwhelming moral, financial, and spiritual support in my journey so far.”

Agbonayinma expressed the hope that the Edo APC governorship primary holding this Saturday will offer aspirants “a level playing field, where every aspirant is accorded a free, fair and equal chance and opportunity to participate in the APC governorship primary.”

“As a loyal party man, I call on all leaders and supporters of our great party, APC, to fall behind the party flag-bearer that would eventually emerge from a free, fair and credible process such that APC will go into the governorship election as a united party,” he said.

With Agbonayinma out, 11 aspirants are left to slug it out in the Saturday governorship APC primary of the Edo APC.

They are Clem Agba, Monday Okpebholo, Lucky Imasuen, Anamero Dekeri, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Gideon Ikhine Col David Imuse (retd), Gen Charles Airhiavbere, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, Blessing Agbomhere, Dennis Idahosa and Ernest Umakhihe.