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Edo Election 2020: The Countdown Begins

September 18 Buhari Urges Caution as 2,210,534 Voters Decide Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, Others’ Fate •483,769 fail to collect PVCs •IG orders restriction of vehicular movement By Omololu Ogunmade, Kingsley Nwezeh, Chuks

September 18

Buhari Urges Caution as 2,210,534 Voters Decide Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, Others’ Fate

•483,769 fail to collect PVCs
•IG orders restriction of vehicular movement

By Omololu Ogunmade, Kingsley Nwezeh, Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin

President Muhammadu Buhari last night advised political parties, candidates, and security agents to behave responsibly at tomorrow’s Edo State governorship poll in which 2,210,534 voters that have picked up their permanent voter cards (PVCs) would be deciding the fate of the gladiators.

Fourteen candidates, including the incumbent, Mr. Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would participate in the election.

Also, in a move to curb the movement of illicit arms, hard drugs, and political thugs ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday ordered the restriction of vehicular movement in the state.

The president, in a message to voters, political parties, election officials and security personnel, said he was passionately committed to the conduct of free and fair elections.

However, he said his commitment would not be enough if other players at the poll fail to abide by the rules.

A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, quoted the president as admonishing politicians to shun do-or-die affairs in the effort to bring democracy to the next level.

He said: “I want to see democratic standards in the country raised higher at every level, but these cannot be achieved when politicians resort to do-or-die methods to gain power by any means or machination.

“The do-or-die mentality to politics is a threat to free and fair elections because the actors are more focused on winning than caring about a fair outcome that reflects the Will of the people.”

The president appealed to all political parties and their candidates to be peaceful and respect law and order.

He also advised election officials and security agents “to remain neutral to ensure free and fair elections and avoid any action(s) capable of compromising the integrity of the elections.”

Buhari added that conducting free and fair elections is one of his main concerns for democracy.

“I want this commitment to be one of the legacies I will leave behind when I depart office,” the president said.

A total of 2,210,534 voters would tomorrow determine the fate of Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu and 12 others in the race.

According to the election bulletin obtained by THISDAY from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 1,159,325 of these voters are males, while 1,052,209 are females.

However, 483,769 voters failed to collect their PVCs.
The document also showed that youths between the ages of 18 and 35 make up 50 per cent of voters.

The electoral commission has, however, pledged neutrality and fairness in the conduct of the election just as the police have promised to deploy three officers to man each of the 2,627 polling booths in the state.

According to INEC document, Edo South Senatorial district has the highest number of registered voters with 1,281,414; followed by Edo North with 564,122, while Edo Central Senatorial district has the least with 364,998 voters.

The document revealed that among the 14 political parties participating, 12 of the 14 governorship candidates are males, leaving two females.

The candidates for the elections are Obhafuoso Paul for Action Alliance (AA); Akhigbe Ehiabhi for the African Democratic Congress (ADP); Ibio Emmanuel for Action Democratic Party (ADP); Osagie Ize-Iyamu for APC.

Others are: Lucky Idehen for All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Igbineweka Osamuede for Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Amos Osalumese Areloegbe for All Peoples Party (APP) and Osifo Uhun-Ekpenma for Labour Party (LP).

The Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) will field Agolebun Tracy as the governorship candidate; Stevie Ozono for National Rescue Movement (NRM); incumbent governor Godwin Obaseki for PDP; Jones Osagiobare for the Young Progressive Party (YPP), while Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) would field Akhalamhe Amiemenoghena.

The election would be conducted in 193 wards located in 18 local government areas of the state.

IG Orders Restriction of Vehicular Movement

Meanwhile, in a move to curb the movement of illicit arms, hard drugs, and political thugs ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday ordered the restriction of vehicular movement in the state.

A police statement said the restriction of vehicular movement would commence from 11:59 p.m on Friday (today), September 18, 2020, to 6.00 p.m on Saturday, September 19, 2020.

IG, in the statement signed by Force PRO and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr. Frank Mba, said the restriction order was in line with concerted efforts at ensuring public order and safety during the election slated to hold on Saturday.

He said the measure “was informed by the need to prevent the free flow, circulation and use of illicit arms and hard drugs and checkmate the movement of political thugs and touts and other criminally-minded individuals especially from contiguous states from hijacking and disrupting the electoral process.”

Adamu warned that the force would not sit idly by and watch citizens who may want to engage in any criminal, violent and destructive acts, snatching of ballot boxes, vote-buying, vote-selling, hate speeches, and other acts capable of compromising the electoral process.

He enjoined the citizens to see the restriction as part of the necessary sacrifice towards the enthronement of democracy.

PDP Protests, Demands Free, Fair Election

Meanwhile, PDP national leadership yesterday led all members of NWC of the party to INEC, demanding that the commission must remain neutral in the tomorrow’s election.

Speaking with journalists after their protest to INEC headquarters in Abuja, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said: “We are deeply worried and in pain because of our past experience especially those of Kogi and Bayelsa states.

“We are worried because the country is in crises: crisis in economy, crisis in the area of security, virtually in all facets of the life of the nation; and the only way out of all these crises is to conduct free and fair elections, which will at most reduce the tension in our country today.

“Let me also use this opportunity to call on all the security agencies, especially the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Director-General of DSS. We have been reliably informed that over 1,500 men and the special squad are on their way to Edo State to carry out their lawful duties. We agree, but the past elections have shown that some of the officers in plain clothes are used by APC to replace results; it has happened.

“I believe that the situation in the country demands from all of us some level of responsibilities, to be law-abiding. Let them conduct free and fair elections, according to the rules, the electoral law. The securities are there to prevent violence, to help INEC.”

According to PDP national chairman, “In an election in a state like Imo where somebody that came fourth according to the results announced by INEC, but the man who took fourth was declared the winner by the court; that is not what the country needs today.

“We pride ourselves as the most populated Black country in the world in our continent, but if we cannot conduct a credible free and fair election, what will be our position? As you are aware, Ghana is setting the pace whereas Nigeria is supposed to be setting the pace for the rest of Africa to follow but today we are behind Ghana, it is a shame.”

He said what took place at INEC office was a “peaceful protest to remind INEC to also speak to other security agencies not to damage the image of INEC, strictly that they should follow the rules. We believe that our message will be delivered to the chairman and we have confidence that INEC will not fail again.”

He said INEC in its response pledged to conduct a free and fair election.

“They made promises before; even the security agencies made a promise before and they failed.

“What legacy are we going to leave behind for the next generation of Nigerians? We want to appeal to you to use your good offices to make sure that the final order and meetings with security agencies lead to the conduct of free and fair elections. That’s all we demanding – free and fair election, transparent election, credible election – so that our country can move forward,” he said.

INEC Expresses Readiness for Edo Poll, Assures of Fairness

Receiving PDP team in Abuja, INEC National Commissioner in Charge of Election and Party Monitoring, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, told party: “The commission is aware of your fears and we will do our best to deliver on a free, fair, credible, and safe election. The commission has just returned from a visit to Edo State; the chairman and members of the commission went to Edo State to check on the processes for the election, last-minute processes.

“By the time we departed, we were very sure that virtually everything is on course.

What remains is the distribution of sensitive materials and that is to take place today. Just before you arrived, the process has been concluded and all the local government has proceeded, in fact, we started with the farthest local government, they have received their materials.

“All the vehicles are being tracked to ensure and to be able to say where they are, at any point in time. So, the processes are on, if there is any local government outstanding, they are the ones within the city of Benin and that process in on.

“The commission has always given you assurances like you said. What we shall continue to do is to assure you that on our part, as the election management body, we will continue to give you our best. I want to tell you that on Saturday, we may not all be in Benin, but we are going to operate a virtual situation room where we will be seeing all that is going on in all locations and we will be dealing with problems as they arise.

“For the second time, election observers, civil society organisations, the media will be allowed access into this virtual situation room. They will be given codes with which they can join and they can ask questions; we can respond to issues as they see them. I think that is already a very high level of openness of the process. So, we have done our best.

“You raised an issue regarding result sheets. I’d like to say that at the stakeholders’ meeting that was held in Benin, your party made a request that the result sheet, the registration area which is the ward collation sheet, the local government collation sheets should be signed by REC. The commission has directed that REC does that and that was done in the presence of parties, civil society organisations, and the media.

“So, once again, I just want to assure you that it is in our own interest, it is for our own good that a free fair, credible election goes on, on Saturday and that is what we promised that we are going to deliver.”

INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Chairman of Information and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, also told THISDAY that the commission is ready for the election.

“We are ready for the election. Everything is in order as planned. Yes. We are ready. All the materials for the election have been distributed. Both sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been sent to their respective and designated places under the eagle eyes of the security agencies.

“Yes, we are ready and we are ready to go,” he stated.

Okoye added that by the provisions of the Electoral Act, all campaigns ended yesterday (Thursday).

Nigeria Police had earlier warned would-be “miscreants and other political thugs” that might be planning mischief on the election day to desist from it or they would be dealt with severely.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Adeleye Oyegbade, told journalists in Benin City on Wednesday that the police had carried out a security threat analysis, noting that all identified vulnerable points, entry, and exit points have been mapped out for special security coverage.

The DIG said: “Adequate police officers comprising conventional, plain-clothed policemen and Special Forces have been deployed to provide robust security, during and after the election.

“We have carried out security threat analysis hence, all identified vulnerable points, entry and exit points have been mapped out for special security coverage, while the military is expected to perform the required complementary role of outer cordoning.

“For effective manning of polling booths, no fewer than three police officers and personnel of other security agencies will be deployed in each of the 2,627 polling booths.”

PSC: Police Must Operate Within the Law in Edo, Ondo Elections

By Kingsley Nwezeh 

Ahead of the gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States, the Police Service Commission (PSC) yesterday warned that  personnel of the Nigeria Police deployed in Edo and Ondo States must operate within the law.

It said any infractions on the laws and rules guiding election policing by any officer would be investigated and appropriate sanctions applied.

A statement issued by the commission said a high-powered team of the PSC was already in Edo State to monitor the conduct of policemen on electoral duties during the state governorship poll scheduled for September 19.

The statement signed by the spokesman of the Commission, Mr. Ikechukwu Ani, said the team was led by the Commissioner representing human rights organisations in the commission, Hon Rommy Mom, and the representative of the media in the commission, Hon Austin Braimoh.

“The commission wishes to advise that all police officers on electoral duty in Edo State must operate within the law and rules of engagement, as any infractions on the laws/rules guiding the election policing by any officer will be investigated and appropriate sanctions applied,” it said.

Ani said the commission received assurances from the leadership of the police charged with maintaining peace and order during the election in the state that every security arrangement was  in place to ensure a hitch-free and peaceful poll.

He added that the commission also released dedicated telephone numbers for complaints and commendation on the conduct of police during the exercise.

PDP Alleges Plot to Move Money from Lagos to Rig Edo Poll

Adibe Emenyonu in Benin-city

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State has raised the alarm on alleged plots by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to use private jets and helicopters to move money from Lagos to Edo State in order to rig the state governorship election in favour of the APC.

The Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, who stated this yesterday, noted that last Tuesday, the electorate in the state were awakened to a vexatious broadcast by a national leader of APC, “where he insulted the intelligence of the Edo people by asking them to overlook the developmental strides made by the candidate of the PDP in the election, Governor Godwin Obaseki, and hand him the treasure of the state to extend his empire to our dear state.

“We have it on good authority that APC national leader, working in concert with the leadership of the APC in Edo State, has gone a step further from the inciting broadcast by sending down helicopters and private jets loaded with money in an attempt to buy our state and annex it as a part of his fiefdom.

“We want the electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), observers and other stakeholders in the electoral process to take note of this move and ensure that necessary actions are taken to avert the sinister plot to subvert the will of the Edo people on Saturday.”

Nehikhare further alleged of plot by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) in league with the APC to cut off power supply to the collation centres across the state at critical time like on Saturday, urging the National Electricity Regulatory Company (NERC) to sanction the Disco if it goes ahead with orders issued by the management.

“We are alerting BEDC and its management that we are aware of their plot, and that Edo people would vehemently resist the role to cooperate in attempting to undermine their will in this election,” he stated.


APC Raises the Alarm over Alleged Arrival of Thugs in Edo

By Adibe Emenyonu

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State has raised the alarm over the alleged arrival of thugs in the state capital, Benin-city, yesterday night and the alleged recruitment of thugs loyal to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, stating that the latest alleged recruitment occurred in Warri in Delta State.

This was revealed in a statement by the Publicity Secretary of the state APC, Mr. Chris Azebanmwani, who said the alleged thugs gained entrance into Benin-city and that more are ready to arrive in the city.

He disclosed that: “One of my good sources in Delta State called me and told me that our election will be “bloody”. He told me that thugs in Delta State are currently mobilising. He has some of them in his contact, and that Obaseki is looking for more thugs. Some of them have already taken off from Warri yesterday and more will be leaving there in morning. These are people that were given clear instruction on what to do once they enter Edo State. They will lie low and carry out some kidnappings then unleash myhem on Saturday morning.”

On the direness of the situation, Azebanmwan said: “The security agencies that have been deployed in the state and the resilience of our people will nullify all the thugs that the governor is bringing in. People are so tired of Obaseki that they actually believe that the governor’s second term must not be. Second term with the man is as good as packing out of Edo State. His governance is like giving gun to a baby to play with, so the people will come out to collect the power of Edo State from him.”

September 17

Edo 2020: INEC Commences Distribution of Sensitive Materials to LGs

By Adibe Emenyonu

Ahead of the Edo State governorship election scheduled for Saturday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Thursday, began the distribution of sensitive materials to the 18 local government areas of the state.

Addressing journalists at the premises of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Benin, venue of the distribution exercise, the Head of Voter Education and Publicity of INEC in the state, Timidi Wariowei, said that the distribution commenced with the farthest local government areas.

He said: “So far, we have loaded about vehicles for 11 local government starting from Akoko-Edo, Etsako Central, Owan East and Owan West, among others.

“Some have gone and others are completely loaded and are sorting out their security escort and very soon, materials will move to all the local government.

“From the local government, the materials will move to Registration Areas Centres (RACs) and from there to polling units and voting points on Saturday morning.

“We are fully ready for the election. This is the high point of our preparation, the moving of materials from the CBN to all the local government areas. As you can see, one of the vans loaded with sensitivity materials is just leaving the premises of the CBN, Benin.”

Ize-Iyamu: My SIMPLE Agenda will Transform Edo

•Promises to diversify economy

•Obaseki fails to show up at conversation despite written invitation, due processes

By Emma Okonji, Eromosele Abiodun, Nosa Alekhuogie, Sunday Ehigiator in Lagos, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday disclosed that his plans for Edo State as encapsulated in his SIMPLE Agenda will transform all sectors of the state’s economy with a focus on security, health, infrastructure and job creation.

Ize-Iyamu, who is the main challenger to the governor of Edo State and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Godwin Obaseki, stated this when he appeared on a special edition of The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers.

The special programme, which was designed as a series of dialogue among the 14 competing candidates, by ARISE NEWS Channel with the support of EiE, a group of individuals and organisations committed to institute a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship, was scheduled to feature Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu yesterday.

But the Edo State governor refused to show up despite a written invitation and assurances from him that he would participate in the dialogue.

However, a statement by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, said Obaseki boycotted the conversation because he learnt at the last minute that it was going to be a debate.

“Governor Obaseki was preparing to depart for the venue of the programme early this morning when information came that the event was no longer a conversation but a debate,” he claimed, adding: “The banner headline on the invitation card to the event reads, Edo Governorship: The Conversation. This information is available online and can be verified. How a conversation turned to a debate is a question only organisers of the eve can explain.”

But from the invitation letter dated September 9, 2020, and signed by ARISE NEWS Managing Director, Ms. Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, (see a copy on page 8) the party chieftain’s explanation for his candidate’s no show would appear to be an afterthought as it was made very clear that the engagement would be a dialogue between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu.

The letter read in part: “There are 14 candidates in the Edo governorship election and we are inviting all candidates to participate in the dialogues. You will be hosted with the APC candidate, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, while the other twelve candidates will be split into two groups of six candidates each in separate sessions.

“The dialogue would be for two hours during The Morning Show, our flagship programme with the highest number of viewers nationwide and The Diaspora. It will focus on topics: (1) education, (2) healthcare, (3) job creation, and (4) the economy.”

Not only did the governor during private conversations with the station’s managing director agree to participate in the dialogue, he also paid for advertisements, which were aired throughout the programme.

In a press statement from the Chairman of Edo APC Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, while reacting to the governor’s refusal to attend the conversation said, “the governor’s cowardice is legendary, shameless, and unbecoming of someone who hopes to lead the fearless people of Edo State.

This is the third time that Obaseki will flee from a debate. What is he running away from? From accountability and transparency? This tells you that the Channels TV Interview was arranged. It is sad that someone that campaigned on accountability and said Edo would be the envy of the western world in terms of transparency is now running away from giving account of what he has done and what he hopes to do”.

The APC spokesman disclosed that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was always ready to serve no matter the obstacles, without giving excuses.

He said, “This tells you that we are ready to serve. You saw how the governor planted his people in the studio for channels television and they yelled thuggishly, making such a fracas with the sole aim of turning a debate into a campaign rally. It was an elaborate setup by the governor Obaseki-led government to hoodwink the nation and the people of Edo State, but those in the state know what is going on.”

He added that although Obaseki had paid for adverts on Arise TV “just the same way he paid for adverts on Channels Television,” it meant nothing to the governor to run away from the debate after wasting Edo people’s money on advertisements’.

He disclosed that, “With this dodgy attitude of Obaseki, Edo people cannot have confidence in him. He has consistently failed promises made to workers, traders and farmers in Edo State. Now, he has taken his unreliability to the media three times and the one time he appeared in the media, he knows how much he spent to present a good image. No one trusts him”.

He therefore urged Edo people, “ to come out en masse and vote out tyranny, cowardice, oppression and dishonesty”. Ize-Iyamu during the conversation accused Obaseki of financial recklessness in managing state resources.

According to him, “I have a comprehensive document on how I believe we can reverse the fortune of our state, and make it better. I believe sincerely that without good security, we would not be able to position our state in where we want it to be. Investors will not come, Tourists will not come, even our own indigenes abroad would be reluctant to come back home if we continue to suffer the level of insecurity that we have.

“In the same way, without serious infrastructure, it is going to be very difficult to attract any serious industry or business to our state. Our people too must be trained and retrained so they can have the necessary skills to compete at any level. So, the agenda has been well thought out, and in terms of implementation, of course, we would be looking at funds. The state is blessed, I just believe that our money has not been prudently utilised in the past.”

If elected, he said, he intends to set up an economic management team that would ensure that the monies of the state are well utilised.

He said: “In terms of immediate implementation, it depends on what we have in the coffers of the state. If our state is not in the red, then there are so many things we can jumpstart and begin to do. If, however, we find out that our state is in the red, there is nothing wrong with accessing the capital market to see how we can get some short-term facility to be able to kick-start what we want to do.
“But we sincerely believe that by the time we begin to implement our programmes, the structures of our state will change. By the time people see our sincerity, our focus and priorities, we also believe that so many donor agencies and so many people would be willing to come to our aid and to assist our state.

“So, we are not too much afraid about how we want to implement our project, we just want to win first, get in, and then you would see a serious implementation of the agenda we have set for ourselves.”
Ize-Iyamu, who decried the high level of unemployment in Edo State said the state government could have done much more to reverse the situation if appropriate plans were put in place.

“I believe the current statistics are worse. The statistics you have right now are based on the data that was received, and mainly from the Edo State government. But I have told people in another forum that most of those statistics are wrong. The bogus claims that 151,000 jobs have been created are not true. The unemployment rate is a lot higher.

“To be able to reverse the trend, we believe that with the SIMPLE agenda, a lot of things would change.
“For example, by the time we make our state more secured, a lot of businesses are going to come, the existing ones are going to expand and increase their scope, and that would help a lot in creating more jobs,” he said.

On the high level of insecurity in Edo State, he said the high rate of unemployment in the state was responsible, promising that he will reverse the trend by engaging the unemployed youths.

According to Ize-Iyamu, “This government has wasted so many resources in Edo State. For instance, the farm projects that the present government embarked upon, actually flopped and it was a complete waste of resources of Edo State people. The farm projects were not well thought out and they did not bring in the right professionals to handle it. In one of the farm projects, the government wasted close to N2 billion on that project because it failed. The rice project in Aghenegbode, where the government claimed it invested over N5 billion, also was a big failure and a complete waste of resources. Those projects failed because the government refused to consult the required experts to handle the projects.

If voted into power, I will consult with the right professionals and ensure that projects are successfully implemented in the state.”

He said a lot of businesses are going to come, and the existing ones are going to expand and increase in scope, which would help a lot in creating more jobs.

“The security aspect of our SIMPLE Agenda is also intended to get many of our young ones employed. We intend to do community policing whereby we identify the local vigilante group all over the state, organise them and make them more functional and ensure that on a monthly basis, we pay them some stipend for keeping our state safe and complementing the police,” he added.

In the area of agriculture, Ize-Iyamu said Edo State government should be able to invest in agriculture in the areas such as rubber, cocoa and cassava, explaining that when he was secretary to the government of the state, the government deliberately established a Cassava Factory at Uromi with support from Brazil.

He also spoke on the state’s capacity for generating internal revenue, saying statistics showed that the state had not been doing very well in IGR in the past three years of the Obaseki administration.
“The statistics on IGR in the state for the past three years shows slow growth in IGR because the government is not generating enough money; rather, it has relied so much on federal government allocation and taxes from within the state. A serious government should be able to think outside of the box to attract foreign investments that will drive IGR,” he said, pledging: “If voted into power, what I will do is to diversify the Edo economy and ensure that the economy is stronger with short term return on investments. I will increase the IGR of the state and increase employment for our youths. We will stimulate the economy of Edo State through public-private partnerships that will further raise the IGR of the state.”

On insecurity and poor infrastructural development in the state, Ize-Iyamu said: “My SIMPLE Agenda will bring about investments in security and infrastructure. In the area of security, we intend to use technology to deal with crimes in the state.

“We will employ the services of drones to monitor most of our localities in order to fish out kidnappers and armed robbers from their hiding places. We will purchase trackers to trace and track kidnappers. We will invest in infrastructure in the areas of health, agriculture and ensure that we use modern technology tools to drive processes in those areas in order to give real support to the citizens. People should have access to quality equipment in schools and hospitals.”

He added that if voted into power, he would run a very serious security outfit and bring in all security agencies in the state to fight crimes at all levels.

Fielding questions about the educational situation of the state, Ize-Iyamu said: “We will invest in education, using technology to drive digital education through e-learning. With COVID-19, we need to change from our traditional way of education to a digital way of offering educational services. We intend to resuscitate the Benin Technical College, which has been abandoned by the present government.

If that college was resuscitated by the present government, it would have been a centre for manpower development in the state, where technical skills will be developed for the state.”

According to the APC governorship aspirant: “When I become governor of Edo State, I will build a disease control centre in the state, well equipped with the latest medical tools and medical professionals. We will provide healthcare centres in all local government areas. Hospitals, where serious health issues are addressed, are the responsibility of state government, and that should be an area of priority for us if voted into power.

“We have 34 government hospitals in Edo State, but they are all in a deplorable state, which we plan to renovate and rebuild.”

September 16

#EdoDecides2020: My Devt Agenda for Edo, by Ize-Iyamu

By Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu 

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that his agenda to develop the state is well thought out, saying the plans to revamp the state economy are already in place.

Ize-Iyamu disclosed this Wednesday while featuring on “The Conversation”, a debate programme on The Morning Show of Arise News Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY.

Ize-Iyamu said when elected, his administration intends to invest a lot of money on infrastructure, while also empowering local businesses.

He said, “Without serious infrastructure, it is going to be very hard to attract any serious industry or business for our state and then of course, our people too must be trained to make them have the necessary skills to compete. So, the agenda has been well thought out, in terms of implementation we will be looking at funds, the state is blessed, so I just believe that our monies have not been prudently utilized. This time we intend to set up an economic management team that will ensure that the monies of the state are well utilized. We sincerely believe that by the time we begin to implement our programmes, our state will change, by the time people see our sincerity, our focus, we also believe that so many donor agencies will be willing to come to our aid and assist us. We are not too much afraid on how to implement our project, we just want to wait first, get in and then you will see serious implementation of the agenda we have set.”

The APC candidate said he believes that the statistics of the unemployment rate in the state according the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which it said currently stands at 19 per cent and under-employment rate at 34.9 per cent were worse than that.

According to him, “The statistics are based on the data that they received from Edo state government. But I have told people in other fora that most of those statistics are wrong. The bogus claim that 151,000 thousand jobs are being created is not true. The unemployment rate is a lot higher. We believe that with the SIMPLE agenda a lot of things will change. By the time we make our state more secure, a lot of businesses are going to come, the existing ones are going to expand and increase their scope and that will help a lot in creating more jobs.”

On security, Ize-Iyamu noted that he intended to employ the youths and integrate them into community policing programme, while also identifying local vigilante groups, reorganize them and make them more functional, while monthly stipends would be paid to them.

Ize-Iyamu said: “When this governor came in, the security vote was around 4.5 billion annually. He came in and increased it to 7.5 billion, which is like almost 100 percent increase but unfortunately how is he spending it? The little statistics I got is frightening. Before the Edo state police command was getting like N5 million monthly to compliment what they are doing, and you expect that the governor who has increased the security vote by almost hundred per cent to review that and give them something reasonable to make them function better, but in the last four years there has been no change, it has been the same. Edo security trust fund which I support, which is something that will compliment government investment in security sector nobody is interested because they don’t see any seriousness on the part of government.”

“When I was in government, it was regular to purchase vehicles, brand new ones to support the police so that movement can be easy. What we found in this administration was a joke. Government must invest in security and if they are using security vote for that, complimenting traditional institutions to ensure that the community police are all functioning, I won’t be here querying the security votes, but when nothing is happening, the level of insecurity will be at all time high. That is why people are complaining, you can’t be collecting over N600 million monthly and what we have been able to calculate that you spend maximum is N20 million. How can you spend only 20 million on security when you collected 600 million, what are you doing with the balance. Even during Covid when the governor had to review the budget, the security vote was not touched, the money for judiciary was cut down by almost 50 percent. The issue is what are u doing with it?”

The APC candidate added that his administration would also invest in the teachers, stressing that a functional education system cannot be achieved without investing in the teachers.

On economy, Ize-Iyamu, said, at the moment, the state was stagnated as the administration of Obaseki concentrated focused only on the traditional areas of revenue generation.

He stated: “The economy must be diversified, we can no longer continue that, putting all our hope on what comes in from the federation account. There are some projects that can bring short term returns, we need to diversify our economy and look at projects that can bring revenue to our state. If I can ask where are the new projects that Obaseki brought to the state there are none.

“The so called industrial park that was started with fanfare nothing happened to it. We intend to stimulate the economy, public private partnership will drive the process and we will see more people coming in, which means that the level of economy activities will increase, more people will be employed and more investors, on taxation we will have increase in corporate taxes and payee.”

On Debt management, Ize-Iyamu stressed that the South-south region had the highest debt profile, while revenue generation in the region remains very low; adding, “so, it’s a contradiction that we’ve incurred so much debt and there’s nothing to show for it. We need to see how we can manage these debts. Our experts need to sit with us so we will able to see how these debts can be managed.”

#EdoDecides2020: I’ll Give Priority to Health, Education, Infrastructure, Ize-Iyamu Assures Voters

The Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this weekend’s governorship election in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that his administration will  give priority to health, education and infrastructure.

Ize-Iyamu disclosed this on Wednesday while featuring on “The Conversation”, a debate programme organised for Ize-Iyamu and the candidate of the Peoples Democraic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, on Arise News channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY.

He said, “We have to give priority to health, education and infrastructure. I had a debate with Obaseki sometime ago, he said his primary focus was primary healthcare and not hospitals, I had to make it clear that hospitals are where serious illnesses are treated. The Governor promise to build primary healthcare centres in 192 wards has failed. He did 22 out of 192 which is about 11 percent and that’s failure. He didn’t make any promise for secondary health institutions.”

#EdoDecides2020: Insecurity in Edo Alarming, Says Ize-Iyamu

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has described the insecurity in the state as alarming.

Ize-Iyamu disclosed this on Wednesday while featuring on “The Conversation”, a debate programme organised for Ize-Iyamu and the candidate of the Peoples Democraic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, on THE Morning Show of Arise News channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY.

According to him, “The statistics of our security vote is frightening. Governor that increased security votes has not been able make any change in the security sector. What we found in this administration was a joke. Even the state police were not provided with brand new vehicles. The level of insecurity is all time high. We are faced with challenges of kidnapping, that’s why people are complaining. From our calculations, you can’t be collecting 600 million monthly, only spending about 20 million. So what are u doing with it.”

Details later…

#EdoDecides2020: Ize-Iyamu Promises to Diversify Edo Economy

The Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this Saturday’s Edo election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has promised to diversify the economy of the state if elected as governor.

He disclosed this on Wednesday while featuring on “The Conversation”, a  programme organised for Ize-Iyamu and the candidate of the Peoples Democraic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, the two leading candidates in the Saturday’s election on ARISE News channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY.

Ize-Iyamu said the unemployment statistics of Edo was a lot higher than disclosed, adding that  there is need to diversify Edo economy.

“Edo failed to plan for the rainy days, they concentrated on traditional form of revenue, hence the reason for stagnation and why they were not able to cushion effects of covid-19,” he said, while faulting the economic policies of the current PDP administration of Obaseki.

Details later…

#EdoDecides2020: I Will Not Scrap Security Vote, Says Ize-Iyamu

 Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this weekend’s Edo election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that he would not scrap security vote if elected governor of Edo State.

Speaking Wednesday on a programme on Edo Election tagged The Conversion on The Morning Show on ARISE News where he is discussing his vision for the state, Ize-Iyamu said he would invest in Security to guarantee safety of lives and property, and attract investment.

He noted that there cannot be economic growth if there was no security, adding that he would however ensure that security funds are prudently expended.

Details later..

#EdoDecides2020: My Administration Will Make Case for Debt Forgiveness, Says Ize-Iyamu

Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this weekend’s Edo election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, said if elected governor, his administration will seek for debt forgiveness from lenders.

Speaking Wednesday on The Morning Show on ARISE News where he and Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two main candidates in this weekend’s Edo election, are billed to discuss their vision, he said he would be relunctant to seek loans for projects that are not economically viable.

He said that he would leverage on the people of the state who are well positioned in the Diaspora so that they could pull resources and invest in projects in the state.

He said he was hoping that when he assumes office, if elected, the economic situation in the state will not be very bleak.

Details later..

#EdoDecides2020: My SIMPLE Agenda will Create Jobs, Reposition Economy, Says Ize-Iyamu

Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this weekend’s Edo election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that his SIMPLE agenda would create jobs and reposition Edo economy.

Speaking Wednesday on The Morning Show on ARISE News where he and Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two main candidates in this weekend’s Edo election are discussing their vision for the state, the APC candidate said he was in the race to rescue Edo and reposition the economy so that the people of the state can continue to again enjoy the dividends of democracy.

He said the SIMPLE agenda, which is an acronym that stands for Security, Infrastructural development, Manpower development, Public private partnership, Leadership and Employment creation, was all about job creation and repositioning the fortunes of the state economy.
Details later…

Dousing Tension, Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, Others Commit to Peaceful Election

•Tinubu urges electorate to reject Edo gov
•We will win, Atiku, PDP reply

By Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Peter Uzoho in Lagos and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, all the political parties and their candidates, particularly the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday signed a peace accord to ensure peaceful conduct before, during and after the election.

The peace deal signed in Benin City, Edo State capital, which seeks to douse the rising pre-election tension was brokered by the Nigeria Peace Committee (NPC), led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd); and supported by the Kukah Centre for Faith, Leadership and Public Policy, headed by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.

The peace deal occurred on the day Obaseki and the PDP berated the National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, for his campaign against the Edo State governor.

The former Lagos State governor had in a viral video called on the people of Edo State to reject Obaseki in the state’s governorship election holding this weekend.

Promising to abide by the peace agreement, Obaseki said he is fully committed to a peaceful election.

The Edo governor, however, appealed to the NPC to also reach out to other political actors in the election who have an influence on the polity so as to get full assurance that the process is sacrosanct.

He said: “I want to say on behalf of myself, as a candidate of the party and my party, the PDP, that we are fully committed to ensuring that we have a peaceful election. I have no choice because, in addition to being a candidate, I am also the governor and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the state.

“I want to commit publicly, once again, that I will live by the letter and spirit of the accord that has just been signed.”

Ize-Iyamu, also promised an unwavering commitment to the peace accord.

“Let me reaffirm our commitment to what has been signed and to assure Nigerians and particularly our people in Edo State, that we will talk to all our supporters and we will conduct ourselves peacefully. We will do our best to ensure that the election is peaceful. We support free, fair and credible election. We believe that is the only way that we can sustain our democracy,” he said, adding: “We want to assure all our dignitaries that, by the grace of God, the election is going to be very peaceful. We thank you and we are grateful.”

Abdulsalami said the essence of the accord was to ensure a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the election.

He noted that it is not just for the candidates to sign the peace accord but to also accept the outcome of the election by telling their supporters to eschew violence.

He said: “We want a situation where voters will come out on Election Day without fear of harassment and intimidation. We urge all the stakeholders and key people to be committed to the Peace Accord and ensure that peace reigns during and after the election.

“As you are all aware since 1999, democratic elections in Nigeria have been conducted with varying degrees of violence.” He said the tension and anxiety around elections necessitated the setting up of the National Peace Committee whose mandate is to support peaceful election processes and cultivate a culture of peace.

The former Head of State stressed that in 2014, the committee commenced efforts to support free, fair and credible elections and to ensure a peaceful transition, adding that the intervention of the committee contributed immensely to the success of the 2015 election.

He further stated that since that time, NPC has successfully intervened in elections to ensure a peaceful outcome right after the just past 2019 general election.

“The gubernatorial election in Edo State is just a few days away and having peace during and after the election is a priority which must be done,” he said, adding: “We as a people should aspire to see a Nigeria where people feel safe to come out of their homes to cast their votes without any fear.”

Abdulsalami explained that election could not hold in the absence of a peaceful atmosphere and said disharmony among political parties was responsible for the tensions usually witnessed during elections.

“Therefore, all contesting parties need to adopt a code of conduct that will remove confrontation among them,” he said.

Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, represented by Deputy Inspector General Adeleye Oyebade, assured the peacemakers that the police would ensure that there is peace and tranquillity and promised that citizens who want to vote will do so freely.

Also in his remarks, Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, thanked conveners of the meeting especially for what they had done, particularly for coming to Benin to assist in preaching peace and tranquility before, during and after the election.

The Oba, who was represented by the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri, also said he has been doing his best to see that the prediction of violence and bloodshed does not come to pass, pointing out that elections in Edo State have never produced such acrimony since the history of participatory election.

He said the candidates of the two major political parties are descendants of people who have ruled Edo in peace.

Present at the epoch-making event were the INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, among others.

The parties that signed the peace accord are APM, APP, APGA, LP, NRM, NNPP, YPP, APC, PDP and SDP

Reject Obaseki, Tinubu Urges Edo Electorate

Meanwhile, Tinubu has called on the people of Edo State to reject Obaseki in the state’s governorship election holding this weekend.

Tinubu made the call yesterday in a televised broadcast programme, whose short video clip was circulated online.

He said he was making the appeal as a committed democrat and the leader of all democrats in the country regardless of political parties.

The former Lagos State governor said he had suffered along with many others to bring the democratic regime being enjoyed by everyone in the country today, stressing that Obaseki did not participate in any aspect of the struggle to enshrine democracy in the country, and so could not understand the value and the pains that were associated with the democratic struggle.

The former governor of Lagos State said Obaseki prevented 14 of the 24 elected state lawmakers from being inaugurated.

He said the governor refused to take the advice of the National Assembly and the Attorney-General of the Federation to let the 14 members of the House of Assembly to be inaugurated.

Tinubu said rather than let them be inaugurated, Obaseki supervised the destruction of the House of Assembly complex all in a bid to prevent them from being sworn-in.

He, therefore, called on the people of Edo State to punish the governor.

“He demonstrated the act of dictatorship, lack of respect for rule of law, lack of respect for you the people who voted for those legislators prevented from being sworn-in. Today, he now comes back as a democrat wanting you to vote for him. Please, I appeal to you, reject him,” he said.

We Will Win, Atiku, PDP Reply

But in a swift response, Obaseki, in a press statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, told Tinubu that he could not extend his political empire to Edo State.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the PDP also replied Tinubu saying he was labouring in vain as the party would win the election.

“I urge all duly registered voters of conscience and who truly care about the wellbeing of Edo to turn out en masse to cast and defend their vote for Governor Obaseki,” Atiku said on his verified Twitter handle yesterday.

In the statement titled: ‘You can’t extend your political empire to our state – Edo govt tells Tinubu,’ Obaseki said Edo people were determined to end godfatherism in the state.

Obaseki said: “It has become obvious that the spirited fight which Edo people have put up against godfatherism has sent tremors beyond the shores of Edo to the likes of Tinubu, who has for years sustained a stranglehold on Lagos and other states in South-Western Nigeria, hence this desperate, last-ditch effort to rescue the unproductive political instrument, now popularly referred to as godfatherism, with which he has feathered his nest and built his political empire at the expense of the people.

“Tinubu knows clearly that come September 19, when godfatherism would have been dismantled in Edo State, the people of Lagos may just have found the recipe and the formula for removing the chokehold placed on their collective destinies for decades by Tinubu, hence the inciting television broadcast.”

Obaseki described the allegation that he prevented the inauguration of lawmakers in the state as false.

Also, reacting to the issue, the PDP, which rounded off its governorship campaign yesterday, said that it was amused by what it described as the amateur video released by Tinubu, in which “he arrogated to himself supremacy powers, lord over the people of Edo State and dictate their choice of leadership.”

The party said Tinubu was labouring in vain because its candidate would win the election soundly.

The PDP said that it is indeed pathetic and derisory that “Tinubu is claiming to be the leader of all democrats in Nigeria, which obviously he is not, while at the same time violating the fundamental of democracy, which is allowing people to freely choose their leaders without confrontations with lies, coercion, mudslinging, slanders and beguiling as exhibited in his amateur video.”

The National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement in Abuja: “It smacks of unpardonable hypocrisy that an individual who claims to be a democrat will at the same time choose to sit in the comfort of his residence to insult the people of Edo State over their manifest choice of Governor Godwin Obaseki as their preferred leader, for another term of four years, due to his sterling democratic qualities and performance in office.

“We know that Asiwaju is desperate to re-launch himself into relevance but can someone who wants the nation to believe that he is a democrat be campaigning alongside self-confessed liar, who has been rejected by his kinsmen and suspended as national chairman of his party, all in the quest to install a stooge in office?”

The spokesman of the PDP reminded the former Lagos State governor that Edo State is not part of his fiefdom “and that the needless sanctimonious pomposity, which he displayed in the broadcast, will never sway the people.”

Play by Rules Atiku, Saraki, Tambuwal Task Politicians

Meanwhile, as the world yesterday marked the International World Democracy Day, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki; and the Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, said democracy would grow in Nigeria when politicians play by the rules.

The Sokoto State governor has also insisted that any electoral victory obtained through means other than the legitimate votes of the people is nothing short of a coup d’état.

Atiku said the democracy that Nigerians are enjoying today was procured at a great price.

He said: “We can only deepen and sustain it (democracy) by respecting the sanctity of the ballot and necessary review of our electoral processes.

“As the great people of Edo State go to the polls to elect their governor this weekend, they need to be provided with a secured environment to cast their votes and be assured that their votes will count.

“I urge all duly registered voters of conscience and who truly care about the wellbeing of Edo to turn out en masse to cast and defend their vote for Governor Obaseki.”

Saraki also spoke in Abuja yesterday at a ceremony to mark World Democracy Day organised by the Centre for the Advancement of Civil Liberties.

According to him, “It is also important to stress that democracy can only grow if those of us who are politicians get ready to play by the rules at all times.

“Politicians must stop the mentality of electoral victory at all cost. The stability of the nation’s democracy and peace of the nation are definitely higher goals than the personal aspiration of individual politicians.

“Politicians must learn to always act in a manner that gives confidence to the people that truly, elections still provide the best process for sourcing leaders and kicking out those that are not wanted by the people.”

He called on political actors to sometimes suppress the desire for power and take sides with the survival of the system.

“When I argue that politicians should learn to accept election results and demonstrate patriotism even in the face of naked provocation, it is based on my experience. The lives of our people, the stability of our democracy and the peace of the society are more important than our personal interest or the inflated egos of the leaders,” he said.

The former senate president charged members of the National Assembly to make haste to commence the process of amending the electoral act, explaining that the Edo and Ondo States governorship elections should have been the starting point for the reforms.

Saraki said: “This should be a starting point for our demand for a credible electoral process. Whilst we wait for the new Electoral Bill to be passed, we can begin to demand that the right things are done by all stakeholders in these elections.

“Led by President Muhammadu Buhari, we can ensure that these two elections signpost his desire to leave for Nigeria and Africa a legacy of true democracy and clean electoral process. President Buhari must use the Edo and Ondo elections to demonstrate ECOWAS commitment to a credible electoral process.

“The President must put his feet down and ensure that the security agencies will, and must, not be misused to influence the results of the elections in Edo and Ondo States. Also, the electoral commission should be made to be truly immune from manipulations by individuals, no matter how highly placed.”

In a statement titled: “Tambuwal: Rigging is coup d’état,” which he signed and issued to commemorate the 2020 edition of United Nations International Day of Democracy, the Sokoto State governor argued that the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States are test cases of the country’s preparedness for a rule-based and consent-enabled governance.

Tambuwal who is also the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum said: “It has become imperative to rethink the role of not just the electoral umpire but also the activities of various security agencies in our electoral process in such a manner as to instill in them the culture of inflexible support for democracy and its practice.

“Any electoral victory obtained other than through the legitimate votes of the people is nothing short of a coup d’état.”

While quoting the preamble of the UN resolution to buttress his point, the governor said “…While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy does not belong to any country or region… democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life.”

The governor appealed to the National Assembly to immediately conclude the long-overdue amendments to the Electoral Act to entrench provisions that make it impossible for rigging and manipulation of elections taking into cognisance the nation’s recent experiences.

While making a case for electronic voting, Tambuwal said provisions should be made for a test run before the 2023 general election.

In a veiled reference to the failures of the regime of the President Muhammadu Buhari, he said: “It bears repeating to say that good governance anchored on a sound economy and corrupt-free progressive social, cultural, and infrastructural development is a sine qua non for sustainable democracy.”

Lagos APC Berates PDP, Obaseki over Rigging Allegation

The Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has chided the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, accusing them of chasing shadows with their baseless allegations against the party and its National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu.

According to the party’s chairman, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, Obaseki is the architect of his own imminent defeat in Saturday’s governorship election.

The PDP and Obaseki had alleged that the APC and Tinubu were planning to rig the election and that the party had sourced N300 million from local councils in the state for the purpose.

Reacting to the allegation, Balogun said: “Overwhelmed by the prospects of grim failure in this weekend’s governorship election in Edo, the Peoples Democratic Party and its mercenary candidate, Godwin Obaseki, have resorted to chasing their own dark shadows. The governor is casting false accusation and blame at everybody for his imminent defeat. “However, the person he should blame the most is the person to whom he dare not admit the truth – himself. “He has been the chief architect of his own defeat to conceal this reality he has dedicated himself to construct an edifice the foundation of which is made of fiction and the floors of which are the stuff of malice and lies.

“The latest untruth of the PDP and Obaseki is the evil lie that All Progressives Congress and our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, plan to rig the election and buying votes with N300 million allegedly polled from local councils in Lagos State.

“One must say that Obaseki has a fertile if wild and paranoid imagination. Had he better used that imagination to govern wisely instead of governing as if he were a conquering invader, then he would not be in the pitiable circumstance he now finds himself. “Obaseki has always been his own and his state’s worst enemy”.

“Ordinarily, we would not dignify Obaseki’s desperation with a response, we know the poor man is losing his already feint grip on reality. His brain now walks the halls of fantasyland where he goes about scaring himself with images that exist only in his guilty mind. His allegation is a pure malicious lie and after he loses his immunity as governor he will be asked to pay for this slander.

“In making this allegation, Obaseki engages in a misdirection classic to people of his mendacious and mean ilk. The very wrong which he falsely attributes to others is the very thing he has in his dark heart to do himself. Obaseki plans on stealing money from Edo’s public purse to fund his own ambitions. In that this is what is on his mind, he cannot help but believe that everyone is as devious as he is. It is said that a thief is the person most worried about some stealing from him and a liar most preoccupied with being lied to. Obaseki’s fabrications prove the wisdom of these maxims.

Wike, Tambuwal, Okowa, Obi Rally Support for Obaseki

By Adibe Emenyonu

The Governor of Rivers State and Chairman, Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council, Nyesom Wike; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, and other governors from the South-south and South-east states yesterday graced the grand finale rally of the PDP and its Edo State candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin-city, the state capital.

The governors, in their separate speeches, charged the electorate to vote and protect their votes.

Speaking at the rally, Wike said Obaseki has done his best in going round the 192 wards to solicit for their votes and that the large number of persons who have turned out at the rally was a clear attestation that he has done greatly for the state.

He said going by the crowd at the rally, the governor has already won the election and that the electorate must compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remain a fair umpire in the election.

Wike urged the electorate to cast their votes for Obaseki in order to end godfatherism in the state, noting that Edo State must be a starting point to end godfatherism in Nigeria.

On his own, the Sokoto State Governor, Tambuwa, called on the Edo people to rise up and protect their votes and should not be intimidated or allowed themselves to be enticed by money to sell their votes.

According to him, “I hear that somebody is coming here with a bullion van. Do not sell your vote. Do not be intimidated; vote and let it be counted. Vote for continuity.”

While speaking also, Okowa commended Obaseki for his zealousness in taking his campaigns round the 192 wards, a feat he said had not been done in the country before.

The Delta State governor said those who are calling him an outsider trying to dabble into Edo State politics should have a rethink because he is part and parcel of the state, noting that his grandmother and father In-law are from Igbanke in Orhiomwon Local Government Area of Edo State.

In his remark, former Governor of Anambra State and the PDP vice-presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Peter Obi, said voting Obaseki for second time in the state would guarantee them and their unborn children a brighter future.

The National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, said the European Union and other lovers of democracy all over the world should rise up and make sure that the Edo State governorship election is free, fair and credible.

He said the ban recently placed on some political leaders in the country was a welcome development, noting that such should be extended to any politician who tends to carry out such act in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor and the PDP governorship candidate, Obaseki, expressed appreciation to all the governors and those who graced the rally.

He said his political campaigns round the 192 wards of the state has opened his eyes to some of the challenges faced by most of the communities in the state, adding that he would put more efforts in addressing the situation in his second tenure.

The governor also said his joining the PDP has made him to know the importance of brotherhood, stressing that the PDP governors have shown him love and concern in recent times.

Obaseki said he has successfully conquered the local godfather and that the fight would be on how to conquer those at the national.

UK to Sanction Perpetrators of Violence in Edo, Ondo Elections

By Adedayo Akinwale

The United Kingdom on Tuesday warned
that it will sanction individuals who plan to cause violence during the Edo and Ondo State governorship elections.

The Edo election comes up this weekend while Ondo election will hold on October 10.

The British High Commission in Nigeria stated this in a statement published on its Official Twitter handle.

It said the sanction could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK-based assets, or prosecution under international law just as it did after the 2019 elections.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, in the statement, said she had held meetings with the leaders of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party on the Saturday governorship election in Edo State.

The commission disclosed that it would be deploying observation missions to both Edo and Ondo polls while supporting civil society-led observation.

It explained that the meeting focused on the need for the parties to prevail on their supporters to avoid violent before, during, and after the elections, adding that UK welcomed the signing of a peace accord by the governorship candidates in the state.

The statement reads, “The UK takes a strong stand against election-related violence and just as we did in the general election in 2019, we will continue to take action against individuals we identify as being responsible for violence during elections. This could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK-based assets or prosecution under international law.”

Plot to Burn INEC Office False, Says Edo PDP

The Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council has described as false and mischievous allegation that it plans to burn the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Edo State, ahead of the gubernatorial election in the state on September 19.

Chairman of Media and Publicity Sub-committee of the Campaign Council, Chris Osa Nehikhare, in a statement, said the claim was a fabrication by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, which it said was made up of people with defeatist mindset, who are grasping at straws in the face of imminent defeat in the September 19 governorship election.

According to him, “We are amused by APC’s allegation of a plot to burn the INEC state office. The allegation is completely false and mischievous and should be totally disregarded.

“What should be troubling and of serious concern to Edo people, local and international observers in the election is the antic of the APC to accuse others of an action it intends to execute. There is a trail of this sort of accusation and we want the security agencies to take the accusation seriously as we are concerned that the APC might actually do what it has just accused others of.”

He noted that the state chapter of the PDP was prepared for the election, adding that the people would finally lay to rest the carcass of godfatherism in the state.

History Beckons as Edo Elects Governor

By Michael Ovienmhada

We have four days before elections are held in my beloved Edo State, home to a long history of a great people and great kings who by sheer brute strength and wisdom grew a small city into a large empire stretching through the entire present day Yoruba land, except for Ijebu kingdom through Dahomey and Togo to present day southern Ghana.

Think about this for a moment, where did the name Osagyefoh Nkrumah come from? Osagie. Where did Dahomey come from? Isidahomen. Our people have never bowed down to any Empire at least, they never did, until the British Empire appeared in the horizon with gunpowder, bayonets and huge canons with capacity to inflict much casualty. A people are a microcosm of their past and present and future. The core of the character of a people never really changes. It is inscribed in the DNA of its people.

It is in this light we must see the recent award given to Captain Hosa by Forbes Africa. It is instructive to note that there are over 1.3 billion people on the African continent stretching from Cape Coast to Algiers. To be singled out as worthy of honour is a great feat worthy of celebration by one’s own people. Instead, what do we have?

How true resonates the timeless words of the all time Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of glory, when He said — a prophet is never without honour except in his own country and among his own people.

As Captain Hosa Okunbo is being honored by foreigners who have seen and have evaluated him to be the kind of man who needed to be allowed to shine that he may shine the light on the coming generations — that they too can do it— we have his home state government actually maligning him and

pulling down industrial structures he has built over 30 years in business on the altar of political expediency.

This brings my mind to a larger Nigerian problem where individuals who are not schooled in the intricacies and complexities of power over a state or country are handed the task of governing a people. In Edo State, according to the last population census, there are 4.2 million inhabitants. What this means is that a man charged with the responsibility over such a great number of people must first of all recognize that there are 4.2 million individual opinions that will be expressed everyday and all of these 4.2 million opinions are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic. These opinions are expressed not because any of these individuals hate the governor but because they are breathing and moving entities each of whom is a stakeholder in the overall well-being of the state. Only a man who is not prepared for power would say over and over — As the Executive Governor of Edo State — as the chief security officer of the state — as the number one citizen of the state (who dey follow you struggle?).

Let the imposition of Obaseki as governor in 2016 be a lesson to all of us in how not to choose a successor. We must have a process that allows people come forward to speak freely to a man’s character before we give such a man responsibility over millions of lives.

It beats my mind why anyone who is already governor would still feel so small-minded enough to want to remind us that he is governor. As the governor makes one unforced error after another every single day, I just wonder. The other day at the palace, as the world watched in real time, Obaseki had a chance to seize the moment but clearly, as the saying goes — if you don’t ‘garrit,’ you don’t ‘garrit.’ Governor Godwin Obaseki simply does not ‘garrit.’ As he took that microphone, he could have spoken differently like “Your Royal Majesty, may the God of heaven establish you on the throne of your fathers and establish your generations forever. You have spoken well. I have heard your admonition very clearly. This matter ends today.

Adams Oshiomhole is my political father. Osagie Ize-Iyamu is my younger brother and there would have been no further contestation for Osadebey House. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki does not ‘garrit.’

There is a stuff, a cloth from which great men are cut. When you look at the list of things Captain Hosa has been involved in and the number of successes he has recorded, you must doff your hat for this ‘Okunrin meta.’ I should know. I started business in 1978 long before he made his first investment in anything. He is older by one year and three days. We share a common history of evolution. Most of all, we share a certain level of courage that you only find in men who have walked where lions fear to tread. I am talking about real ‘elephant’ men. Hosa is an elephant man. He creates a road in the forest. We have a saying in Esan (Egie Eni mu uhomo ee olè odé). I have great admiration for men of courage. This is why it would be an honour for me to meet him. I congratulate you, Captain Hosa on the occasion of this award from Forbes.

As governor, a man like that should be your friend. You need him. He does not need you. As governor, Hosa should be at your Sunday lunch at Osadebey House every Sunday. Imagine if Hosa brings 10 billionaires to Edo State in the course of your four-year administration, you would have started an industrial revolution in Edo State.

Captain Hosa is not a candidate for election in Edo State. Oshiomhole is not a candidate for election in Edo State. The Obaseki propaganda machine has run its course. The day of reckoning is a mere four days away. One thing is clear. When the smoke clears and the thunder abates, only one man will be standing next week Saturday.

Only the man who ‘garrit’ will be standing for only one big reason. The man who ‘garrit’ knows one thing. You don’t fight City Hall.

*Ovienmhada, farmer, author, playwright writes from Lagos

This Election Is Truly Ize-Iyamu’s to Lose

By Teniola Williams-Balogun

One does not need to be clairvoyant or partisan to project that the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State is the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s to lose. The available accretion of variables makes such projection almost indubitable.

This does not in any way negate the fact that it will go down in the state’s history as one of the most keenly contested governorship elections, because of the antecedents of the two leading candidates, the peculiarities of their emergence and what they are promising the people.

Unlike Ize-Iyamu, Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate is on this expedition with disillusioned and disgruntled co-passengers, no thanks to his 11th-hour entry and eventual corralling of the party’s governorship ticket.

He was a member of the APC, who defected just last June and was given the PDP’s governorship ticket thereby extinguishing the aspirations of longstanding members of the party. Those ones have not forgiven the party leadership and Obaseki for muscling them out of the race.

This, perhaps, is why Obaseki is still considered a stranger in the party and not trusted enough not to jump ship against the groundswell of rumours that the governor just wants victory by all means to spite his estranged godfather and former governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and that the moment he gets it, he would return to the APC, leaving the PDP high and dry.

Impeccable sources within the EDO PDP contended that this knowledge explains the party’s ambivalence about putting out its entire arsenal to ensure his victory.

But the scenario is markedly different for Ize-Iyamu. A founding member of the PDP in Edo State, he served in the administration of former Governor Lucky Igbinedion from 1999 to 2007 as Chief of Staff in the first term; and Secretary to the State Government in the second term.

Beyond his official positions, Ize-Iyamu is acclaimed as a great mobiliser of men and women and a redoubtable grassroots politician, who was pivotal to the two electoral victories of Igbinedion.

Stronger forces within the PDP then engineered the defection of Ize-Iyamu, who left with his supporters to join the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). In the new party, the Ize-Iyamu supporters operated under the Grace Group, which worked relentlessly for the victory of Oshiomhole in 2007 though he would later reclaim his mandate via the court in 2008.

Ize-Iyamu rose in the ACN, one of the legacy parties that formed the APC, to the position of the national vice-chairman, South-South Zone. Noteworthy is that after Oshiomhole had been rejected by his own Labour Party, the PDP and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), it was the Grace Group that made his acceptance by the ACN seamless and successful.

Under the auspices of the ACN, Ize-Iyamu also served as the Director-General of Oshiomhole’s second term Campaign Organisation and he delivered. He would only return to the PDP, when the same Oshiomhole gratuitously refused to support his ambition to succeed him in 2016. But now, Ize-Iyamu is back in the APC, where he is at home with the leaders and loyalists.

Accordingly, one of the best things that Ize-Iyamu has done is to make a sharp contrast between himself and Obaseki. The first argument is that, Ize-Iyamu is currently not riding on the back of any godfather, a claim Obaseki could not make in 2016, when Oshiomhole almost single-handedly handled his campaign. Even now, he is being propped by the PDP machinery and his power of incumbency.

The second is that having spent so many years as an astute grassroots mobiliser, Ize-Iyamu has mastered the language and nuances of electioneering and has got the people energetic and enthusiastic again with his SIMPLE Agenda, whereas Obaseki’s Make Edo Great Again agenda has been mirthless and mechanical.

After enduring three years of grim governance, it is unlikely that any more rhetoric from Obaseki can invigorate the enervated people of Edo State. Obaseki is a deeply flawed man. If he remained at just an ingrate, who betrayed Oshiomhole, the man that brought him into politics and power, it would have been overlooked as one of those peculiar intrigues and mysteries of Nigerian politics especially.

But his metamorphosis into an unresponsive and unbridled governor, who detached himself from the socio-economic needs of the people and deviated from a tested and trusted path to a better life for the people, have done him in.

Further damage has been done to his candidature by his irreverent attempt to bring into disrepute the legacies of his predecessor notably the politicisation of the Benin Central hospital project, which was completed and equipped by Oshiomhole.

Obaseki was a part of Oshiomhole’s administration as chairman of the Economic Strategy Team for almost eight years that Oshiomhole was in office.

He was integral to the completion of the project but on the assumption of office, refused to open it to the public thereby denying the generality of the people of Edo State a world-class healthcare services, citing incongruous and infantile excuses. Three years into his administration, Obaseki launched a probe into the funds that went into building the hospital, forgetting his involvement too.

He also cited Oshiomhole’s upgrading of the Ekiadolor College of Education to Tayo Akpata University (TAU) as the reason he shutdown the institution permanently since he came to power.

For closing the Colleges of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi; Abudu, Afuze; the Institute of Continued Education (ICE) and the three Schools of Nursing in Edo State, Obaseki hid under the pretence of renovating the institutions. So many youths were prevented from continuing with their education for a long time and these are the youth he wants to come out to vote for him on September 19th; a tall order, no doubt.

For the more discerning electorate, it is Obaseki’s ungrateful attitude towards benefactors, which has led to over 70 per cent of his appointees resigning. That rankles! Obaseki and his cheerleaders were in denial all along as they continued to run on their contrived popularity and propaganda but the reality is dawning on them by the day with his administration likened to a revolving door that allows for impulsive exits.

The resignation, last May, of Taiwo Akerele, the former Chief of Staff, opened the floodgate of resignations of several cabinet members and senior aides in the administration. Another debilitating resignation was that of Patrick Iyoha, the Director, Obaseki/Shaibu Movement, which threw the campaign organisation into disarray, as he was the nerve-centre of Obaseki’s re-election bid.

But it was not only Iyoha that resigned within the same week; the Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability, Dame Omoua Oni-Okpaku; and two members of the State Post Primary Education Board – Mr Gabriel Oiboh, Chairman and Mr Osanyemwere Osawe, a member of the board – also did. Oiboh and Osawe said their resignations followed pressure by Obaseki to defect with him to the PDP.

On July 27th, three commissioners of the Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Area Development Commission – Osamwonyi Atu, Emmanuel Odigie and Rilwanu Oshiomhole – who represented Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North senatorial districts respectively – resigned their appointments. The latest is Joseph Ikpea, who resigned his appointment as the Commissioner for Minerals, Oil and Gas, and moved to his Ubiaja hometown in Esan Southeast Local Government, where he returned to the APC 10 days to the election. If these are no strong indications of a sinking ship, then, nothing is.

Something more fundamental haunts Obaseki and he has turned a blind eye to it. It is his disregard for the Moslem population in the state and insistence on retaining his deputy, Phillip Shaibu, a Christian. For the first time in the history of democratic governance in the state, Ize-Iyamu did the unthinkable by choosing Malam Gani Audu, a Muslim, as his deputy.

This is a masterstroke decision, which already guarantees the APC massive votes that would be hard to assail by the opposition. Even more importantly, Ize-Iyamu has out-campaigned other candidates and is doing so on the strength of his manifesto of hope, which he said is the panacea and pivot to launch Edo State on the path to sustainable prosperity and holistic development.

What trumped the APC candidate, as a frontrunner in the race was his very high name recognition – résumé that matches the moment, public office experience and renown as a steady and seasoned administrator, and his well-articulated manifesto of hope entitled ‘The SIMPLE Agenda’.

The acronym, ‘SIMPLE’, stands for Security and Social Welfare, Infrastructure Development, Manpower Development, Public/Private Partnership, Leadership by Example and Employment Creation. Now in a book form, Pastor Ize-Iyamu said recently that the agenda is also a ‘SMART’ document.

“By this, I mean it is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and, of course, Time-bound,” he said, adding that he decided to document his agenda for the people so that he could be held accountable should he derail from his promises after winning the election. According to him, a government must be accountable and transparent, so, those who want to govern must put what they want to do for the people in black and white.

*Williamns-Balogun wrote from Lagos

Abdulsalami: Why we are Intervening in Edo Guber Poll

By Chuks Okocha

A former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), who is the Chairman of the National Peace Committee, said that his committee is intervening in the Edo State governorship election because of the tension it is generating.

He also said that the political temperature in Edo State has been so high in some areas, stressing that if there is no peace, there cannot be any election.

Gen. Abubakar said that it was based on the need for peace that his committee decided to assist in calming the unwarranted tension.

Abubakar, who stated these at a meeting with the Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said that members of his committee were in Edo State to assist in ensuring that the September 19 governorship election is conducted peacefully.

According to him, “So, your excellency, this is why we are here in Benin together with members of the Peace Committee and Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah.

“Like I wrote to you in my letter from the Peace Committee, tomorrow the signing of the peace pact will take place at 2:00pm between you, other candidates and their chairmen.

“As you know, the purpose of this committee is to ensure that all those involved in this election get hold of their supporters and party people to ensure that there is peace in the state.”

Responding, Obaseki noted that the good work of Gen. Abubakar across the world where he has been seeking peace across troubled zones, speaks for him.

Obaseki said: “We just finished the stakeholders’ meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, where they informed us about the significance of signing this peace pact.

“I just want to assure you that as a government and as an individual, we totally align with your cause. It is in our best interest as a government to promote peace in our land.

“We are committed to ourselves, our monarch, Oba Ewuare II, and our people to do all within our powers to maintain peace. We’re also going to applaud and support you to ensure that we take responsibility to ensure there is peace in this election.”

Also, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, reiterated what he said at the meeting of the Edo State governorship stakeholders that the votes will count.

The INEC chairman said: “The votes will count. The people of Edo State will determine who becomes their next governor. Their choice will be upheld. Let me also reassure you and the voters in Edo State of the commission’s neutrality. I call on all political parties and candidates to abide by the letter and spirit of the peace accord. Let it be your covenant to the people of Edo State to maintain the peace before, during and after the elections.

“Today, political parties and candidates contesting in the Edo governorship election holding on Saturday are signing an accord to affirm, respect, support, promote and commit to the principles of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections about which we will hear more from the Peace Committee shortly.

“We welcome this initiative. Our preparations, deployment plans, new innovations in result management, the safety of personnel, security of materials and above all, the credibility of elections are all negatively affected by violence or malpractices. Even worse, the health of all those involved is jeopardised by any disruption that will make the observance of health protocols in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic impossible. It is, therefore, important for everyone to maintain the peace.”

He expressed INEC’s profound appreciation to the National Peace Committee for convening the meeting, adding that: “It is once again gratifying to note that respected statesmen, including traditional rulers as well as religious and business leaders are working in a voluntary and non-partisan way not only for peaceful elections for the consolidation of our democracy in particular but also for peace in Nigeria in general.”

Mahmoud said that the National Peace Committee has demonstrated that so much can be achieved in nation building by the force of moral rather than statutory authority, adding that INEC is working with civil society organisations and all other stakeholders and will continue to support the good work of the committee.

The Race for the Soul of Edo

As the Edo State governorship election inches closer, Adibe Emenyonu takes a look at the parties, their candidates and the likely flashpoints.

The Edo governorship election slated for September 19 this year promises to be as interesting as the 2016 election when Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, then of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Mr. Godwin Obaseki, then of the All Progressives Congress (APC), were the major contenders. Obaseki emerged victorious in that election. Four years after, Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu are still the major contenders for the topmost political office in Edo, making analysts to describe this weekend’s governorship election as a rematch.

It also promises to be a fiercely contested election like the 2007 governorship election between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress and Mr. Oserheimen Osunbor, of the PDP. In that election, Osunbor was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). That decision was however upturned by the Court of Appeal in November 2008 and Oshiomhole was declared governor.

Obaseki And Ize-Iyamu

Watchers of political events in Edo would agree that apart from being a direct contest between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu, Saturday’s governorship poll is also a battle of supremacy between the governor and Oshiomhole, his estranged political godfather.

No doubt, the power-play that led to the sack of Oshiomhole as national chairman of APC had its roots in the local contest for political influence between Oshiomhole and Obaseki, which escalated to the national level of the APC.

With Obaseki recording a deadly blow against Oshiomhole with the sack of the former governor as APC national chairman, Oshiomhole will be aiming at not just getting his own pound of flesh this weekend by halting Obaseki’s reelection bid at the poll, but also stamping the foot of his political influence on the state.

The Candidates, How They Stand

Fourteen political parties will be on the ballot in this weekend election. They are: Ademakhiota Godwin Osaimiamia, Action Alliance (AA); Mabel Akomu Oboh, African Democratic Congress (ADC); Obio Lucky Emmanuel, Action Democratic Party (ADP); Osagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu, All Progressives Congress (APC); and Lucky Osagie Idehen, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

Others are Igbineweka Osamuede, Allied Peoples Movement (APM; Amos Osalumese Arelogbe, Action Peoples Party (APP); Osifo Ohun-Ekpenma Isaiah, Labour Party (LP); Agol Ebun Tracy, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP); and Steve Nash Ozono, National Rescue Movement (NRM).

Also contesting are Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Felix Izekor Obayangbon, Social Democratic Party (SDP); Jones Osagiobare, Young Progressive Party (YPP), and Akhalamhe Amiennenoghena (Zenith Labour Party.

Of the 14 parties that are contesting, only two of them, the APC and PDP, could be described as major contestants. Others are not expected to make any significant impact because they lack the structure, resources and other key electioneering prerequisites for any impactful run. The race will be a rematch of the 2016 governorship election between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu. Though certain key political variables have changed in the last four years – such as the swapping of parties and realignment of allies – the two major gladiators remain the same.

Osagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu (APC)

Ize-Iyamu, who contested on the platform of the PDP in 2016, is going into this weekend’s contest as the candidate of the APC. The former Secretary to Edo State government under the administration of former Governor Lucky Igbinedion is a formidable politician with huge grassroots followership. His party, the APC, controls the levers of power at the federal level – one of the key determinants of victory in in elections in Nigeria. Already, he and his party have mobilised tremendous human and material resources for the election. His political clout is boosted by his running mate, who is also a grassroots politician. Obaseki also controls 17 out of the 24 state constituencies’ representatives, who are also influential among their constituents. He enjoys the unalloyed loyalty of these representatives, majority of who were denied inauguration by the incumbent governor when he proclaimed the new session of the state Assembly last year. Another major advantage is that Ize-Iyamu now enjoys the backing of Comrade Oshiomhole, the immediate past governor of the state and a major political figure in Edo, whose support led to the emergence of Obaseki as governor in 2016.

A major drawback for Ize-Iyamu is the defection of the incumbent governor from APC to PDP, the major opposition party in the state, thereby boosting the chances of PDP in terms of resources and visibility of the party’s candidate. Also the perception in some quarters that the crisis in the APC, precisely between Oshiomhole and his estranged godson, Obaseki, was not about governance but about access to the state purse, may be a minus for the APC candidate, who is now being derided for ‘adopting’ Oshiomhole as his godfather.

Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki (PDP)

Obaseki , who was elected as governor in 2016 on the platform of the APC, will be contesting this weekend’s election on the platform of the PDP. He enjoys the power of incumbency, a factor that plays a key role in election victory because it is also the exercise of power of political and economic patronage. Backed by a strong and politically active deputy and running mate, Philip Shuabu, Governor Obaseki is also loved by civil servants based on the various reforms initiated in the civil service by his administration. He also has a heavy propaganda machinery in the state media and has capacity to moblise resources for the election.

The candidate of the PDP however lack grassroots outreach like his main contender. The crisis that has rocked the state Assembly since he inaugurated only his loyalists is also a drawback for his reelection bid. He controls only seven out of the 24 state constituencies’ representatives. This could have some impacts on his chances in those constituencies, as the 17 representatives have vowed to stop his reelection bid. His inability to market or late marketing of some of his achievements is also a drawback. The governor’s inability to manage the goodwill he enjoyed on assumption of office, which has strained his relations with Oshiomhole and some prominent indigenes of the state, is also a major drawback.

September 19: A High-stakes Election

Adams Oshiomhole

For Obaseki, the PDP candidate will be throwing everything in the race to weaken and ensure he totally demystifies his estranged godfather, Oshiomhole. Obaseki will also be aiming at putting an end to Ize-Iyamu’s quest for Edo governorship. The governor also knows that a failed reelection bid will have serious implications for him as a politician and a newcomer in PDP, the party which bent backwards to give him its governorship flag after undisclosed compromises.

On the other hand, Ize-Iyamu, reputed to be a politician with huge grassroots support has this weekend’s election to live up to that reputation. He also has a second chance in this weekend’s ‘rematch’ to prove, on the electoral field, his claim that his defeat in the 2016 election was because votes did not count due to rigging as he alleged before the court. Not many aspirants have the opportunity of flying the flags of two major political parties consecutively in governorship elections. Ize-Iyamu got this opportunity. He has this weekend to prove that the confidence reposed in him was not misplaced.

Though Oshiomhole is not on the ballot, he is fully in the race this weekend. Losing Edo to PDP will be devastating for the former APC national chairman whose sack from his national office had its roots in the local politics of Edo because of his strained relationship with the governor, who ensured his suspension at Oshimhole’s APC ward.

He would also want to prove to his political adversaries around the country that even though he lost his national chairmanship position of APC to the power play at the national level, he remains fully in charge of Edo politics. With the intensity of the fight between him and Obaseki in the past few months, Oshiomhole knows that another four years of Obaseki may send him into political oblivion.

Likely Flashpoints
The election may likely witness violence because of the desperation of the two dominant political parties – PDP and APC. Pockets of pre-election violence have been recorded. The fact that this weekend’s election is seen by analysts as a war of attrition which outcome could send any of the gladiators that fail into political oblivion, has further heightened the desperation of the contenders.

With the above, the three local government areas within the Benin City metropolis, Oredo, Egor and Ikpba-Okha may witness violence because of their voting population, as they may be the battleground.

Another expected area is Etsako West. Incidentally, the former national Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, the two running mates, Philip Shaibu and Gani Audu of PDP and APC respectively, all hail from the area. It will be an interesting one following Shaibu’s boast to defeat Oshiomole even in his ward.

Another likely flashpoint is Uromi, Esan North-east local government, where the Speaker of the seven lawmakers loyal to Obaseki, Hon. Frank Okiye, comes from. Since he defected with Obaseki to PDP, he would want to do everything humanly possible to keep his political influence intact.

One other place to watch out for is Akoko-Edo. This is the home of the former Chief of Staff to Obaseki, Taiwo Akerele; former Speaker of the state assembly, Kabiru Adjoto; Senator Domingo Obende; member, representing Akoko-Edo federal constituency and Deputy Majority Whip, House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason.

Also likely to be on the list of flashpoints is Agenebode, headquarters of Etsako East local government, the base of the Senator, representing Edo North senatorial district, Senator Francis Alimikhena, and PDP bigwig and owner of AIT, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi.