- Oshiomhole already jittery about election, says Delta gov
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Few days after the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State elected their standard bearers for the September 10 governorship election, the state government wednesday alleged that it had uncovered plans by the PDP and the Delta State Government to recruit thugs from the state to register as voters in communities sharing borders with Edo State during the continuous voters registration exercise.
The accusation which was contained in a statement signed by Kassim Afegbua, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, said though the government had earlier taken the information with levity when it received it a few days ago, it however, had on good authority that indeed the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, was involved in the sinister move to send political thugs to the fringe villages between the two states to fraudulently register as eligible voters with the intention to use them to cause untold mayhem before and during the election, on September 10.
The statement said: “According to information at our disposal, 40 political thugs have been dispatched to each of these border villages with the sole aim of registering them as voters before engaging their services to perpetrate violence during the September 10 election.
“We wish to place the security agencies on notice of this untoward intention of the Delta State Government with their Edo PDP collaborators to cause a breach of security in Edo State.
“The fact that our people are generally known to be peace-loving should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness, it is just to make the point that we believe wholesomely that democracy is a game of contestation of ideas and not one of contestation with guns and bullets.
“We have put our people on notice to keep an eagle eye on their environment and resist any infiltration or attempt to undermine the peace and security of the state”.
But in a swift reaction, Okowa dismissed the allegation by the Edo State Government, describing it as baseless and indicative of loss of confidence of the APC-led government to woo voters based on the track records of its achievement.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, Okowa stated that it was preposterous for the Edo State Government to expect that Deltans would leave their constituencies and embark on a wild goose chase of registering to vote in Edo State.
He noted that Edo State government had also betrayed its ignorance of the workings of the Permanent Voter’s Card which makes multiple registration impossible and asked the APC in the state to restrict itself to issues rather than resort to name- calling.
The governor also restated his support for the state gubernatorial candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
“Okowa is too refined to engage in such clandestine activities to the extent of decimating his own support base by encouraging his constituents to register in another state. What becomes the fate of Delta political stakeholders who would rely on the votes of those people in subsequent elections? he queried.
“This is laughable and is gradually becoming a character of the APC in Edo State to believe that it can scare opponents through smear campaign. Governor Okowa declared publicly that he would support the PDP candidate both morally and logistically to win the September 10, 2016 governorship election in Edo State and no amount of brow beating would stop him.”
The statement recalled Oshiomhole’s outburst, some weeks ago, against the South-south PDP governors for pledging their support for the PDP in Edo State and wondered when it became an offence to declare support for members of one’s party. “Oshiomhole boasted that he could win election against Okowa in Delta State. Why is the Edo State APC getting fidgety for a mere declaration of support to the PDP candidate by Okowa.”
The Delta State governor called on the security agencies to intensify its surveillance on all the electoral processes to ensure that those who cry the wolves where there is none do not find a chink to rig the polls.
Also, the PDP in Edo State has described the accusation as irresponsible, unsubstantiated and wild allegation against the gentle, peace loving and very educated Delta State governor, Okowa, regarding the continuous voter registration exercise that would begin.
In a statement signed by the party Publicity Secretary, Chris Nekhiare, noted that it is common knowledge in Edo State that APC as personified by Governor Adams Oshiomhole is the party of violence and thuggery.
According to him, “Even within their party, they use guns and all sort of weapons to settle political scores. Whenever Governor Adams is up to something sinister, he employs diversionary tactics. Edo people will not fall for his deceit and lies as they are prepared to vote his party out in the September election.