• Gana, Ikimi, others ask for level playing field
• Airhiavbere carpets PDP leaders
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Edo State for the September 10 governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, on Monday flagged off his campaign, assuring his huge supporters and party members that PDP would take over from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming election.
In a carnival-like ceremony, which was hurriedly shifted to the Baptist Convention Grounds in Benin City following the refusal by the state government to release the Ogbemudia Stadium, the PDP candidate expressed gratitude to God and his party supporters for the opportunity given to him to fly the ticket of the party, saying the PDP is blessed with leaders who could change the fortune of the state.
Ize-Iyamu promised to improve on the welfare of the people and respect the traditional institutions as the custodians of the Edo’s heritage.
He said with almost all party notables in the state lining up behind him there was a joint resolve on the part of the PDP to stop the APC from having a “third successive stint’’ in the governorship.
The governorship candidate accused the APC-led government in Edo State of crippling the economic, educational and social activities in the state in the last seven and a half years, assuring that he had a blueprint to turn around the collapsed institutions.
He added: “When we were in government, Bendel Brewery Limited was working and contributing to the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR); Edo State Courier was working and contributing to IGR, and several other companies. What happened to all those companies? They have been crippled by the APC-led government.
‘’And somebody who said he was the Head of Economic Team, now want to be governor. We should ask him how he destroyed our industries in the state.’’
The former Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG) added that Edo State civil service had never had it this bad, since the state was created, saying the service is totally depleted and is in dire need of new hands.
“It is very difficult to find anyone who has been recruited in the past eight years. That means that everybody in the civil service came in long before now. Many people have died and many have retired, while punitive dismissals have been carried out without regards to extant rules,’’ he added.
“In many places, lots of directors have been summarily dismissed without even taking their cases to the Civil Service Commission. I know that before we left, we injected fresh blood into the system. Young professionals such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers and town planners were employed.”
Both national and state leaders of the party — including the former chairman Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih; the Esama of Benin Kindom, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi; a member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Prof. Jerry Gana; Governor Emmanuel Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State; many High Benin Chiefs, and other state governor’s representatives attended the event.
Senator Odion Ugbesia, who represented the National Chairman of the party, Ahmed Makarfi, later presented the party’s flag to the candidate.
Earlier, Ikimi said he was one of those who formed the APC and appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to allow a level playing field in the state during the election.
He added: “I will campaign with our candidate in the 192 wards of the state, and I appeal to Mr. President to provide a level playing field for this election because Godwin Obaseki (APC guber candidate) has no business in this state.”
Ikimi knocked Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s administration on its policies, saying that all the governor assertions on performance were a sham.
On his part, Ugbesia, said his party was determined to take over the state.
“This is a quick notice to Oshiomhole and other occupants of Edo Government House. Today we are going to change the keys to Osadebey Avenue; we have brought a new key which we shall hand over to Ize-Iyamu,” he stated.
Prof. Gana also expressed optimism that Ize-Iyamu would bring victory for the PDP and urged the people of the state to support PDP come September 10.
According to the PDP BoT member, “This man will work well, this man will govern well, this man is a Godly man, we must all support him,” assuring the people of the state that their votes will count in the coming election.
Meanwhile, former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2012 governorship election and aspirant in the just concluded All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primaries, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), has said the duo of Chief Tom Ikimi, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion and Chief Tony Anenih cannot win the September 10 elections for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Airhiavbere who stated this while reacting to the red card issued to Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the APC in the state, urged the PDP leaders to stop toying with the emotions of Edo people.
He said it was unfair for Ikimi to say former President Goodluck Jonathan was an anti-party leader for allegedly ensuring the success of Oshiomhole in 2012.
Airhiavbere noted that the leadership structure the PDP leaders were used to has changed.
The former Director of Nigeria Army School of Administration, said the Edo PDP leaders were jokers to think of defeating Oshiomhole and the APC in the elections.
He lambasted Ikimi for referring to the new general hospital as a glorified clinic when he Ikimi) was paid N350million as a consultant to design the hospital.
Airhiavbere urged the PDP leaders to bow their heads in shame after being part of a government that rule, and ruined the state between 1999 and 2007.
According to him, “I was the candidate of the PDP in the 2012 governorship elections. For Ize-Iyamu and Ikimi to say former President Jonathan is an anti-party leader is unfair. They were unfair to Jonathan as a president of this country and a leader of the PDP as at that time.
“We have reached a stage where PDP leaders should stop toying with the emotions of Edo people. Ize-Iyamu, emergence as PDP candidate is dead on arrival. How can the PDP win elections here when it can abandon its candidate in 2012.”
“In 2011 and 2012, Chief Tony Anenih told the public that he sold his house to lead the governorship campaign but today it is in the public glare that Jonathan sent money for that elections. I was an orphan at the tribunal up to the Supreme Court. I know the role the leaders of the party played during my elections.
“They sold Oshiomhole to the Edo people four years ago because of their inordinate ambition. Today, they are not talking about Edo people, they are talking about how Oshiomhole betrayed them. It was because Oshiomhole did not agree with them to give Ize-Iyamu the ticket.”