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Campaign tactics unsettling Obaseki, Oshiomhole’s camps

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Following the commencement of electioneering campaigns in Edo State ahead of the September 19 governorship election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have continued to fight dirty over who takes over Government House on Osadebey Avenue, Benin City. The fierce campaign between PDP and APC candidates and supporters has many worrying about the likelihood of violence that may characterise the forthcoming election next month.

The division among party loyalists and supporters of the two leading political parties has not only caused rancour and betrayal of trust among politicians and supporters, it has left many defecting from one party to the other Most members dumping PDP for APC blame it on the incumbent governor’s leadership style, describing him as being too rigid, while others are dumping the latter for PDP because of what they term Oshiomhole’s past sins.

In his address to the seven out of the 12 councilors, who dumped PDP in Oredo Local Government Area for APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu said their open endorsement represented a clear indication that the All Progressives Congress maintains full political control of Oredo Local Government Area.

In his words, “Out of the 12 councilors elected to represent the people of Oredo LGA, we have seven here with us, including that of the governor’s ward. It is a clear indication to all that Oredo is APC and we will record a comprehensive victory there at the polls.”

“I salute the councilors for their courage. I know the victimization that they have been enduring because free choice is now a crime in Edo State due to the desperation of the incumbent. But I assure them that it will come to an end very soon.”

The Director, Obaseki/Shaibu Movement and a member of the state’s Waste Management Board, Mr. Patrick Iyoha, resigned his appointment after Governor Obaseki’s emergence as PDP’s governorship candidate. Iyoha, in a letter dated July 28, addressed to Governor Obaseki, said that his resignation was with immediate effect and due to personal reasons.

Similarly, two members, including Mr. Gabriel Oiboh, Chairman, State Post-Primary Education Board, also tendered their letters of resignation to the governor. Oiboh and the first member of the board, Mr. Osanyemwere Osawe said that their resignation followed pressure to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Earlier, three commissioners of Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Area Development Commission (ESOGPADC) had, on Monday, resigned their appointments. Not only these, some commissioners – Osamwonyi Atu, Emmanuel Odigie and Rilwanu Oshiomhole, who represented Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North Senatorial Districts also resigned.

The gale of resignation from the Obaseki-led government in the wake of campaigns for the September 19 governorship election has left many in the governor’s camp worried. But PDP spokesman, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, said he remained undaunted even as he insisted that PDP would win Edo governorship election.

Nehikare, who was emphatic of his party’s victory, said, “We are aware of the millions being shared for political office-holders to resign and we know how much some persons collected to remain in APC”.

While expressing confidence that PDP’s governorship candidate and governor would fly high, Nehikare boasted that Obaseki’s achievements in the state, particularly having successfully fought god-fatherism and rid the state of cash-and-carry politicians, victory was sure for another four years.

He listed some of Obaseki’s achievements to include road construction projects across the state. Such construction included Ugbor-Amagba Road, Irhinrhin-Aruogba-Obazagbon-Obagie-Ogheghe Road, Obahiantor Road, TV Road, Lucky Way Road, ongoing Ekehuan Road, and ongoing Ohonvbe Ed. Others are Agbede-Awain Road, Central Road in Ekpoma, Emu-Ohordua bridge in Ewohimi community in Edo Central Senatorial District.

He cited infrastructural development Edo PDP governorship candidate has embarked upon to include the renovated Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, new Secretariat buildings Blocks C and D, the new ICT Centre, Benin Technical College, Judges’ Quarters, Edo Hotel, the new AAU admin building, Edo Innovation hub, Ossiomo 55MW Power Plant and so on.

Nehikare said campaigning for Obaseki is not a task because the developmental strides of the governor are already doing the campaign, just as he challenged APC’s governorship candidate to showcase his achievements while he served as Secretary to the State Government (SSG).

While commenting on the gale of defections rocking Obaseki’s government, Nehikare said those moving from one party to another were doing so for selfish interests because they had been promised appointments and offered cash rewards. On one of the governor’s aides, who recently dumped Obaseki and PDP for APC, Nehikare said that the move did not come as a surprise.

According to Nehikare, “It didn’t come as a surprise seeing an aide to Obaseki, who was campaigning for Governor Obaseki a few weeks ago for his second term mandate suddenly making U-turn to support his political godfather. The same man he swore weeks ago to never support nor have anything to do with.

“It is a known fact that some of the defectors are Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s political puppets. We are aware of the millions being shared for political office-holders to resign and we know how much many of them have collected to remain in APC.”

Going by the massive support Obaseki enjoys from pensioners and teachers in the state, Obaseki’s re-election for this category of persons is not negotiable. They attest to his heart warming people-oriented policies that have digitalised the teaching profession and removed pensioners off the streets. These were people, who had been neglected, owed gratuity and left in the cold by successive governments. Many pensioners died avoidable deaths in Edo State.

For the state-owned Ambrose Alli University (AAU) workers, Obaseki’s re-election remains a done deal. Staff and management of Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, have thrown their weight behind the reelection of Obaseki to complete the good work he started in the institution. The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof Ignatius Onimawo, said the developmental impact of the Governor Obaseki-led administration in the university is undeniable.

He said the management of Ambrose Alli University, at its meeting held on Friday, July 17, 2020, considered the numerous insinuations and unfavourable misrepresentations by detractors with regard to the re-election bid of the governor and resolved to openly express solidarity with the governor.

“The university is an apolitical organization,” Onimawo said. “However, the developmental impact of our Visitor, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, in our university is undeniable. He has walked the talk in his avowed commitment to reposition the university as one of the 10 best in Nigeria. The vision has been realised.

“We strongly believe that after his re-election, he will complete what he has started in the areas of strengthening the Internet facility in the university for 24 hours’ browsing right from the gate. He will continue with the energy project for 24 hours’ power generation in the university, the construction of roads within the university, the commencement of the agricultural partnership projects for food production in the university, funding for the construction of the vice-chancellor’s lodge and completion of the perimeter fencing of the university.”

HOWEVER, tension continues to heighten in the state following reported violence by politicians and their supporters. Civil society groups in the state have raised the alarm over the rising incidence of violence ahead of the election and have called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu to beam his searchlight on Edo State before, during and after the election.

According to a statement issues recently, they said, “We are calling on the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police and the state government to swing into action and save Edo people. We cannot continue to allow our youths to be used as tools by these selfish politicians to perpetuate violence.

“With more than a month to the election, these selfish politicians have been mobilising youths to destroy billboards of other candidates and attack supporters and loyalists of perceived political enemies. What of the attack on guests, notably governors and other very important persons at the Oba’s Palace in Benin City, to the flag-off of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s campaign for re-election? If these are happening now, what then will happen on election day?” Sources close to the former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, confided in The Guardian that efforts to appease the Onojie of Uromi, HRH Anselm Okojie, Aidenojie II, and woo Esan voters to support the candidate of APC in the election have been rebuffed.

It was learnt that the royal father asked Oshiomhole to return to his palace after the gubernatorial election if he was committed to genuine reconciliation with him.

Sources familiar with the development said Oshiomhole’s overtures were informed by the growing number of Esan people opposed to Ize-Iyamu’s candidature. Moreso, with Oshiomhole leading his campaign trail, and having to recant words he swore to four years ago, it has become a hard task selling Ize-Iyamu in Esan land.

Commenting on the planned reconciliation, Convener of Esan Agenda, Akhere Obozele, said, “Oshiomhole is insincere and only wants to use the so-called reconciliation to beg for Esan votes. So, Oshiomhole has just realised that what he did to our Onojie four years ago was wrong, with less than two months to the gubernatorial election. He actually thinks he is smarter than everybody in this state. He has been going about performing kneeling stunts to deceive people.

“Interestingly, I heard that our royal father has asked him (Oshiomhole) to come after the September 19 gubernatorial election. So if the former governor is sincere about apologising to our royal father, he can come after the election, when he will have no election-related requests to make.

“Esan people have decided to reward Governor Godwin Obaseki with our Esan votes for the good work he has done, and more importantly, for reinstating the Onojie to the throne of his forefathers.

“We do not want any trickster at the palace of our royal father, who will come and perform kneeling stunts for votes. We know that Oshiomhole’s sudden realisation of his indiscretion is about Esan votes and nothing more. Esan people are wiser than that.”

Oshiomhole had, in 2016, sacked the Onojie of Uromi three days to the end of his second term as governor in what many described as a brazen act over issues many Edo people said could have been resolved by the Edo State Traditional Council. The dethronement of the Esan monarch infuriated his subjects and millions of Edo people, who described the then governor’s action as a desecration of their age-old customs and traditions that they hold dear.

However, barely six months after assuming office, Governor Godwin Obaseki reinstated the monarch.  More groups and residents from Edo Central Senatorial District of the state, renowned to be a PDP stronghold, have equally expressed optimism towards Obaseki’s re-election in the forthcoming governorship election.

Convener of Esan Agenda, Mr. Akhere Obozele, has advised Adams Oshiomhole’s and APC’s candidate to suspend his aspiration of becoming Edo State governor. According to him, this is to save him the humiliation Esan people have reserved for the former national chairman of the APC. Obozele said, “The odds against the APC candidate increased the moment the sacked APC national chairman threw his weight behind him.

“For Esan people, this election is first about a governor that has worked so hard, and in the people’s estimation, deserves a second term in office. Beyond Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term ticket, which Obaseki will get without much ado come September 19, 2020, this election is also about the redemption of Esan people from the series of humiliation meted on us by Oshiomhole.

Prepared to give PDP and it’s governorship candidate a good fight come September 19, the All Progressives Congress in Edo State has called on Nigerians and the international community to subject to scrutiny an alleged plot by the Chairman of Edo PDP Campaign Council, the Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, and its candidate for the September 19 election, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to unleash violence in the state and disrupt the election. 

Chairman of Edo State APC Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, said that the combination of Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State is both ominous and revealing of the violent, underhand tactics with which the PDP allegedly intends to mar the election. He alleged that while Governor Wike is known to have mastered the art of vote-buying, rigging, ballot-box snatching, and blocking of roads to prevent voters from gaining access to polling stations, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has perfected intimidation tactics such as vandalization, destruction of opponent’s properties, and harassment of innocent persons just to obtain power.


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