The Race for the Soul of Edo – THISDAY Newspapers

September 16

#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.

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