John Alechenu, Tunde Ajaja, Peter David and Sampson Itode
No fewer than 11 governors under the platform of the All Progressives Congress stormed Benin, the Edo State capital, on Saturday for the flag-off of the party’s campaign ahead of the September 19 governorship election in the state.
This was as the Peoples Democratic Party has taken a swipe at the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, over his statement on Friday that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State was the brains behind the crisis at the state House of Assembly.
At the ceremony, held at the University of Benin Sports Complex, the Chairman, Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Committee of the party, Mai Mala Buni, led 10 governors and one deputy to the event, attended by many party supporters.
Also present were the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; Dapo Abiodun (Ogun); Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi); Muhammad Abubakar (Jigawa); Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna); Hope Uzodinma (Imo); Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Abubakar Bello (Niger); were present.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, was represented by his deputy, Mr Edward Onoja, while the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi was also present.
Presenting the party’s candidate in the election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to the supporters, Buni, who is also the governor of Yobe State, said the party would reclaim the state.
He said, “We are in Edo State to take back our state. Four years ago, we were here and you voted for the APC and we know that you will do it again. We urge you not to be violent because victory is ours and we are here to win.”
Ganduje, who corroborated Buni’s position, said the party would win by a large margin across the state. “With this crowd, we are confident that victory is ours. We will reclaim Edo State,” he added.
Ize-Iyamu said going by the massive turnout of supporters, it was obvious that the APC was not an opposition party in the state.
He added, “With the people we are seeing today, will anybody say we are in the opposition? Can anybody say we will be intimidated? I want to assure them that in this election, we will not only win; we will win the 18 local governments.
“Let me assure you that never again will we have a governor that is ungrateful. We will have a governor that will respect Edo people, a governor that you can access, a governor that can empower our people and by the grace of God I will do it.”
Also speaking, Oshiomhole, who expressed confidence that Ize-Iyamu would win the election, stated that the governor had failed to fulfil his promises to Edo people.
He added, “Never again should we have a governor who will describe Edo youths as miscreants. Do we have miscreants in this Edo State? No! The government has to impact on the poor and uplift them to a level of dignity.
“Never again should we have a governor who will invite the President to come and do a commissioning of a forest that he is going to have an industrial park and today the bush is there. Do you want a governor that will sign an MoU? No.”
Buhari absent over APC candidate’s graft trial – Obaseki camp
The Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, claimed on Saturday that the President was absent from the APC inaugural campaign because of Ize-Iyamu’s corruption trial. The APC candidate is facing N700m corruption charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He said in a statement, “Once again, President Muhammadu Buhari reaffirmed his commitment to his administration’s fight against corruption by staying away from the public unveiling of the corruption-scarred governorship candidate of the APC.
“Knowing the collateral damage such a gesture would have caused the anti-corruption war and its promoters, home and abroad, the President decided to stay away.”
He pointed out that the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and some other party leaders were also absent.
In a related development, Osagie has faulted the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly and Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria, Mudashiru Obasa, over his claim that Obaseki was the brains behind the crisis at the Edo State House of Assembly.
“It is sheer recklessness and a proof of dictatorship for a governor who is supposed to be the head of the executive arm of government to decide to take charge of another arm through questionable means like it happened in Edo,” Obasa had said in a statement.
But in his response, Osagie said, “Obasa lacks independence of thought as he is controlled by the Lagos godfather. Nigerians should ignore his views, because he is merely amplifying the views of his paymaster and godfather.
“We understand the frustration of trying to please an overbearing godfather, but the point must be made that posterity will judge everyone who occupies a position of trust. While the godfather will not live forever, our roles in history will remain indelible in the sands of time.”
He advised the lawmaker not to always pander to the whims and caprices of political godfathers, even when evidence showed that they were clearly wrong.
Obaseki deserves second term, say real estate developers
Real estate developers in Edo State have declared their support for the re-election of Obaseki, saying his uncommon reforms and policies opened up the real estate sector.
The developers, under the aegis of Edo Land Developers Forum, expressed confidence that the governor would emerge victorious in the poll, as they highlighted his achievements in all sectors of the economy.
The Secretary of the Forum, Oserheimen Idah, said in a statement, “If the essence of governance is the overall development of the society, and lifting burden off the people, Governor Godwin Obaseki has indeed done well. He has performed excellently, putting smiles on the faces of residents; Edo people at home and in the Diaspora are proud of his governance style.”
Oshiomhole plotting to assassinate top individuals, Shaibu alleges
Edo State Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shaibu, has alleged that the former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, was importing assassins to assassinate some individuals in the state.
Speaking to journalists in Benin City, Shaibu, who is Obaseki’s running mate in the forthcoming election, stated that the mode of entry and activities of the suspected assassins had been communicated to security agencies.
Shaibu said, “This is to bring to the notice of Edo people and the country at large that we have received intelligence that some individuals are in Edo State, courtesy of the former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
“The assignment is to come and assassinate some known individuals in the state. I am hereby bringing to the notice of the general public that these people are in town. We have informed the security agencies about their activities and why they are in town. We also call on President Muhammadu Buhari to urge security agencies to do their work. Edo is not going to be a theatre of war if these issues are addressed.”
Also, the deputy governor said Oshiomhole and Ize-Iyamu had run out of lies ahead of the election.
Shaibu was quoted in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on media, Benjamin Atu, as saying, “Oshiomhole told us that Ize-Iyamu lies effortlessly and Ize-Iyamu on his part told us never to trust any word from Oshiomhole. Today, both of them have run out of lies. They have exhausted their lies and have decided to engage in violence.
“Oshiomhole told us that his stooge is a thief. How can we vote someone like that to be a role model in a state that is not starved of human resources?”
It is a lie, Oshiomhole not a killer – Aide
But reacting to the claims, a close aide to Oshiomhole, Victor Oshioke, dismissed the allegation, saying, “There is no truth in that. Why will he want to kill anybody? Oshiomhole contested elections twice and he did not kill anybody. He preached against violence.
“They want to drag Oshiomhole’s name into the election. The PDP and Philip know that they have not performed so they are reducing their campaign to Oshiomhole. You can see that even today at the rally he still spoke against violence. Philip is sure of defeat for him and his party.”
Meanwhile, the Edo State Government has asked the people to hold the APC and Ize-Iyamu responsible for any spike in coronavirus cases in the state.
It said the party disregarded COVID-19 safety protocols put in place by the federal and state governments during the party’s campaign flag-off.
“It is only regrettable and condemnable that the APC is making a mockery of the hard work invested in protecting the people from the pandemic by exposing them to the virus without caring about how these would lead to a rise in cases in the state.”
PDP tackles Tinubu
Tinubu had in a statement titled, ‘In defence of constitutional democracy’, accused Obaseki of refusal to allow the state Assembly function, saying it was a move to thwart representative democracy. He also said the governor was ignorant of what he described as constitutional order.
Tinubu said, “Although Governor Obaseki’s conduct in the past year is undoubtedly impeachable, these legislators have made no threat to impeach the governor. Their only desire is to peacefully perform the duties asked of them by the constituents who elected them. What, then, is their offence?”
But in its response, the PDP National Campaign Council for the state governorship election in a statement said Tinubu and his party were angry with Obaseki because he refused to allow the looting of the state treasury.
The PDP, which described the swearing-in of 14 elected APC members of the House at an unknown location and an alleged plan to invade the Assembly complex but for the renovation going on at the premises as a coup d’état, noted that Tinubu and his party were also bitter over their failed attempt to seize the state legislature.
It therefore called on Tinubu to “stop whining over the failure of the coup against the Edo State House of Assembly by the APC.”
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in the statement, titled ‘PDP exposes why Tinubu is bitter with Obaseki,’ on Saturday said, “The whining by Asiwaju Tinubu has further validated allegations that the horrendous attempt to seize the Edo legislature has the fingers of the APC leadership for their personal reasons.
“Our Campaign Council notes that Asiwaju’s position also confirms allegations that some people in the APC are bitter with Governor Godwin Obaseki because he (Obaseki) refused to allow the APC cabal to have access to Edo treasury as well as his refusal to foist illegal levies and taxes on the people.
“It may however interest Asiwaju (Tinubu) to note that Nigerians have been waiting for a patriotic statement from him that would address the humongous corruption in this administration (of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)) particularly in agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission.”
Also, the Chairman of the party’s campaign council in Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih, at a press conference on Saturday said Tinubu’s style of politics was not attractive to Edo people.
He added, “I want to state that Edo is not Lagos. Tinubu has put the entire Lagos State in his pocket. The huge revenue that accrues to Lagos State goes to his pocket and by his whims he decides how much is devoted to development or any other business of government. Edo is not Lagos.
“We are putting him on notice that such a thing cannot and will never work in Edo. We have been informed that he has since drawn up a list of commissioners which has been handed over to the APC candidate, which is made up of people who are not even from Edo State because that is his style.
“We are independent people and would not be put in the pocket of one man. The Lagos godfather shall soon find out that indeed Edo is not Lagos and he cannot extend his banana republic to Edo State.
“It doesn’t make any sense for Tinubu to sit down in the comfort of his home and draw up grounds for impeachment for the elected governor of Edo State. I have read through his statement and come to the conclusion that he is not aware of the issues concerning the incident at the state House of Assembly. I should expect that as a former Governor of Lagos State, he should know better.”
Oba of Benin sues for peace
Earlier, the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, had while receiving Ize-Iyamu and other dignitaries at the palace, called on candidates for the election to preach peace and shun campaign of calumny.
The monarch said the need for peace could not be overemphasised, calling for all the parties involved in the election to go about their campaigns in a peaceful manner.
He added, “The throne is not partisan and this is because of the expectations of our people and because of the laid down rules by our forefathers. We see everybody as our children. It is said the voice of men is the voice of God.
“It is when the people make their choice to elect the person they want as a governor, and after that we pray for the person who has been elected as governor to succeed in office. The palace is never partisan.”
In an apparent reference to the political tension in the state, the monarch stated that the palace had not been happy with the happenings in the state in recent times.
Wike dares Oshiomhole to show his certificates
The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has asked Oshiomhole to show his certificate to the world.
Wike, who is the Chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council for the Edo election, alleged in a statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, that Oshiomhole only possessed a trade test certificate and not an academic certificate.
The challenge is believed to have come against the backdrop of Oshiomhole’s claim that Obaseki does not have a certificate, even though the University of Ibadan has affirmed that he graduated from the institution.
The statement partly read, “It is unfortunate that we are in a country that somebody who does not have a certificate will question the one that has. Oshiomhole has a trade test which is not an academic qualification. I challenge him to show the world his academic qualifications.
“This same man he said has three credits was his brainbox when he was in government. So is it not better for Edo people to support a man that has three credits than to follow someone whom he said was a cultist and fake pastor who (allegedly) destroyed the manhood of his fellow man?”