‘Oshiomhole, Obaseki lack credentials to win in Edo’
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the herculean challenge of upstaging the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State on September 10. Ize – Iyamu who met with some journalists including SUNNY OGEFERE, in Benin City, also spoke of his worries on INEC and the intimidating profile of his main rival, Dr. Godwin Obaseki, among other issues. Excerpts:
PDP candidate optimis of victory
The reason is obvious; the present APC government in Edo has not done well. They have had the opportunity to prove themselves in eight years, for two terms. Today, people are very disillusioned and very dissatisfied. Just some days ago, our pensioners went on protest to Government House. The pensioners mentioned that many of them have not received their entitlements; that in the past seven months at least, nine pensioners have died because of the frustrations and sufferings.
Judicial service workers have not been paid their entitlements for over a year now. They went on a strike, asking that government should obey the court ruling, which says they should enjoy financial autonomy. Even when they called off their strike, the governor declared that their entitlements should not be paid for the period they were on strike and it runs into months. The judicial workers as at today are complaining. Students who voted for him believing that he will make education more accessible, not only has he reduced the standards of education, he has increased school fees. So, on what basis are students going to vote for him? Okada riders who were at the forefront of the agitation to get him re-elected into government, the moment he came in, he banned them; but worse was the fact that he did not plan for them.
There was no attempt to create an alternative.
The only people he employed throughout his tenure were those youths he took under Edo Youth Empowerment Scheme. The moment the second term election was in the kitty, he sacked them, over 7,000 youths. They are not going to vote for him. The farmers of the state are not going to vote for him. So, who are the people that will vote for him apart from his party members? Even his party is a divided house.
Rather than show Edo people his scorecard, he has resorted to name-calling; insulting Ize – Iyamu, insulting Chief Tony Anenih and everybody in PDP; the truth is that PDP is no longer in government. So, to continue to talk about the PDP when they were in government many years ago is laughable. If after 8 years, you are still complaining, it means that you have no clue. I can assure you that we will win. If you take your mind back to the 2015 Presidential election, APC was demystified in Edo, which has resulted in PDP having two out of three Senators. We have five out nine members of House of Representatives. Many people do not know that of the 17 local governments that were announced in that election, PDP won 15 while APC managed to win only two. That result tells a story.
On Oshiomhole being voted for twice by Edo people
The greatest achievement of Oshiomhole in his first term was the cosmetic renovation of schools. I call it cosmetic because when you renovate schools and there are no chairs or tables, no science laboratories, no teachers’ classrooms, then it is cosmetic. But even that renovation was a UBE scheme. 85 of the schools that were renovated were primary schools under the UBE scheme. The UBE scheme was an initiative by former President Goodluck Jonathan. Under that scheme, the then PDP-led federal government contributed 60 percent of the funds that were used for that renovation. What many people did not realise was that the 40 percent counterpart funding that Edo state government brought was actually contributed by Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbor, a PDP governor before the court removed him as governor. Before Osunbor left office, he had paid the 40 percent needed to access the 60 percent. So, when Oshiomhole came in as governor, he had billions waiting for him because the federal government had just released the money.
After that money was spent, what has happened? His second term is almost over, how many schools were renovated during his second term? The reason is not far-fetched. The counterpart funding was not paid so, the federal government did not release money. His second term has been a disaster. He deliberately chose roads that a casual visitor will pass through without going deep into the city. So, if you land at Benin airport and you drive to Government House, and then you drive back to the airport, you might have a very good impression about Benin on the state of roads; but if you take the pains to go outside the city, you will find out that the roads that have been done are less than three per cent.
It will shock you to know that the road to the palace is in a deplorable condition. We are planning a coronation of the new Oba. Visitors are coming into the state and the road to the palace is impassable. If the road leading to the Oba’s palace is bad, you can imagine what others look like. Before he came in as governor, we had pipe-borne water. Ikpoba River Dam was functional. Ojirami Dam was functional; today they are no more. Even the pipes that were procured with ADP loans for the Benin water expansion, they have mysteriously disappeared. For the first time, we now have a government that has no plan for pipe borne water.
So, in the absence of water, light, jobs, what is going to make Edo to be interested in continuity of this government? The second term has been a disaster and Edo people cannot wait to push him out. They are counting the days. Every Edo worker wants this government to exit and they are praying frantically for that Election Day.
How can you be intimidated by a man you don’t see? Every time the APC campaigns, the only man who is speaking is Adams Oshiomhole while the governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki is pushed to the background. So, if the APC candidate is content with hiding under him, no problem. But when you say rich background, I am surprised. What rich background? Are you talking about his financial or academic background? With due respect, even if one wants to be modest, when you want to talk about governance, the best Obaseki can lay claim to is that he was chairman of a non-existent Economic Team. I have been Chief of Staff, Secretary to Government. The experience I have he (Obaseki) cannot come near it.
The Economic Team they talked about, have they ever told you who are the members? How many times did they meet? What were the policies they churned out? For a state like Edo, with the level of economic mess that the state is in, it is shocking that somebody can stand up and say ‘I was in charge of the Economic Team’. He said he is a technocrat. Technocrat, in what sense? A man who was a stockbroker? Do you even know how he left the place? It is a common secret that he was forced to resign as Managing Director of Afrinvest before he came here. Here is a man who has never voted in Edo.
Worries about INEC’s inconclusive elections
We are worried about INEC because of the inconclusive nature of all the elections. Whether you believe it or not, elections are very expensive, so to do an election and it is declared inconclusive and you conduct it again and it is declared inconclusive is not the best. I think that INEC just have to put its acts together. At least, let Edo election be different from the ones we have seen. The media must help us appeal to them to put their acts together. We don’t want a situation whereby on Election Day, materials are in abundance in a particular local government and in some other key or targeted local governments, materials are not forthcoming. We know that these are things that can be done and they might pretend that it is due to logistics difficulties. It is difficult to explain why materials will get to Edo North before they get to Edo Central. They cannot be voting in Edo North and you say materials have not reached Benin. Something is wrong.
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