Edo Election as Test for Buhari

0
Executive Briefing

 

The September 10 governorship election in Edo State is yet another test of President Muhammadu Buhari’s democratic credentials, writes Davidson Iriekpen
 
Sensing that the All Progressives Congress (APC) could use its weight of incumbency at the federal and state levels to muzzle its members and governorship candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure a level playing field in the forthcoming September 10 governorship election in Edo State.
The party in a statement said since the stage is set for the people of the state to decide among the parties’ candidates, who is more prepared to deliver on good governance in the state, it is important that Buhari and the APC create a level-playing field the same way President Goodluck Jonathan did when Governor Adams Oshiomhole was seeking a second term in office and other governors from other political parties.
Under the PDP administration of Jonathan, Governors Oshiomhole, Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Willie Obiano of Anambra State and Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State won elections on the platforms of their political parties. In the case of Oshiomhole in 2012, he fought and prosecuted a hard campaign against the PDP candidate, General Charles Airhiavbere and won.
This was basically because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the military and police which were the key agencies in the conduct of election, maintained fairness during the polls.
In the PDP statement, the party described the campaigns of the APC candidate as a charade and full of old empty promises that have become the trademark of the APC at the federal level and in all the states controlled by the party. It urged the people of the state to protect their permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) and come out en-mass on Saturday, September 10 to vote for its candidate, Ize-Iyamu, who is prepared to rescue the state from the firm grip of a government of deceit and to provide the desired democracy dividends for the people.
“Nigerians now know better and the people of Edo State have also tasted
the difference between the government of the PDP and that of the APC and will decide on September 10, who will govern them. We have seen it before and we are seeing it again with the usual empty promises of the APC. They will promise everything to deceive the people and will go 360 degrees denouncing all their promises once they grab power.”
The PDP reiterated the fact that they are on a rescue-mission in Edo State to redeem the people from the ‘go-and-die’ government of the APC that has no regard for the ordinary people except to impose heavy tax without tangible projects in the state.
The party also expressed this feeling when the United States Consul-General in Nigeria, Mr. John Bray, paid Ize-Iyamu a visit at his residence in Benin City recently. While receiving the envoy, the governorship candidate appealed to the US and other European nations to show huge interest in the Edo governorship election in order to ensure that it is free and fair.
“I want to appeal to you to collaborate with your colleagues in the European nations to monitor the coming election in Edo State and also put pressure on the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that we have free, fair and acceptable election that will be devoid of violence.
“By our nature, Edo people are not violent people. But we are aware that Oshiomhole is doing everything to compromise some senior INEC officials and security agencies in the state. And I know our people will resist any plan to rig the election, and it will not be good for our democratic process,” he stated
Ize-Iyamu’s request was predicated on the allegation that Oshiomhole had recently held a two-hour secret meeting with the Inspector-General of Police in Abuja on how to ensure that the police fully cooperate with members of the APC during the election.
Also, as part of effort to reduce Ize-Iyamu in the equation, the governor had ordered a complete ban on airing his news, jingles on the state radio and television stations. He barred the PDP from using the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium for its activities. These, observers feel are signs that the APC would not allow a level-playing field during the election.
But since the APC and the PDP commenced their electioneering, it has been hot exchanges between Oshiomhole and Ize-Iyamu to get the attention of the electorate. So serious is the war of words that many observers are wondering if the governor is seeking a third term in office. Many of the observers are equally looking forward to when Oshiomhole would allow the APC governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki, square up to his opponent, Ize-Iyamu.
At many campaign rallies, the governor had threatened to report the PDP candidate to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for looting the state during his tenure as Chief of Staff to Governor Lucky Igbinedion and Secretary to the State Government under the former governor.
At a campaign rally of the APC last week in Afuze, the headquarters of Owan East Local Government Area, Oshiomhole asked the people of the state not to allow Ize-Iyamu and his party loot and deplete the state’s treasury the way they did to the nation’s treasury, calling on them to reject the PDP and its candidate in the governorship election holding onSeptember 10.
He said the nation is presently in economic recession because the past PDP government looted the treasury dry. According to him, “The people who bled the treasury are now coming to tell you the victims, that rice is now expensive, naira has suffered devaluation. If one man took over N2 billion, in Edo alone, even when they confessed to EFCC to have taken over N5 billion, how much will be left for development.
“If they took so much dollars meant for defence to protect Christians against attacks from Boko Haram, to protect mosques from Boko Haram attack, these people took the money in dollars, converted it to naira, depleted our dollar reserves, shared it into their pockets, their generals dug soak-away pits and put dollars inside. The whole dollars from the central bank was taken and from a reserve of over $50 billion, PDP bled the reserves and today it is down to about $20 billion. 
“When a man comes to your house, burgled your store where you kept your food and in the morning you find the store burgled, can you immediately feed your children? What President Buhari is doing now, when he found that PDP broke into the treasury and emptied it, he has started rebuilding the door of the treasury to re-secure it, and the ones they have taken he is recovering them one after the other. The way PDP put fire on our economy, to rebuild it cannot be overnight. Today, my confidence about the future of our country is that Buhari is blocking all the leakages in our economy.”
But Ize-Iyamu said the people of the state would compel the governor to hand over to him in November against his wish because they are desirous to change the ‘change’ that has brought misery, suffering, hike in fuel, food prices, obnoxious taxes and levies, and worst of all, deceitfulness them.
In a different statement by his campaign organisation, the PDP candidate said the outgoing governor should hold his head in shame for squandering the state’s funds, which according to him, have now resulted in the state’s inability to pay local government workers’ salaries for 15 to 17 months, and other socio-economic crisis enveloping the state today.
He asked the Oshiomhole-led APC government to explain to the people of the state how he squandered over N1.7 trillion of the Federal Allocations and Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) he has collected in the last seven and a half years as well as his scandalous wealth.
“The good people of our state have resolved and will vote for Ize-Iyamu overwhelmingly on Saturday, September 10, 2016. And we pray to Almighty God to protect and preserve the out-going governor’s life so that he can witness the hand-over ceremony that will usher in Ize-Iyamu to Dennis Osadebe House in November this year.”
Reacting to the allegations of corruption levelled against him by the governor on many occasions, Ize-Iyamu alleged Oshiomhole’s outbursts were always designed to divert the people’s attention, saying the Edo people are now used to his tactics and will surely punish the APC for it in the coming election.
“It is a shame that Oshiomhole still talks about corruption, accusing innocent people of corruption, when his government stinks of corruption. From documented evidence that we have, Oshiomhole is the most deceptive person in the country today. He should tell the people of Edo how much he is paying as land tax for his house in Iyamo worth over N10billion and other properties he has acquired in the last seven and a half years in Dubai, Cape Town in South Africa, in San Francisco, United States of America, a high rise apartment in Atlanta both in America and London.
“His estate in his village, Iyamo, which people commonly call Three–in-One that even shocked President Buhari to his marrow, when he visited the place during the governor’s wedding last year, is the size of a Texas Style Ranch with swimming pools, water fountains and a big occasion hall, Amphitheatre, indoor cinema hall, Golf arena to mention a few. This house was valued at N10 billion in 2015, and it consumes N500,000 electricity bill monthly.
“Oshiomhole has mismanaged the huge financial resources of the state, which were entrusted in his care in the past seven and a half years, and he is now receiving the heat from the people. The energy he puts in defending himself shows he is already feeling the heat. He has failed; the people of Edo State now know him better. He is the least qualified person to talk about corruption in the country today because his actions and programmes in the past seven and a half years in Edo State epitomise corruption.
“Again, how will Oshiomhole explain over N30 billion he has so far spent on Edo University, Iyamo, at the expense of the two other state universities that were denied government attention? This amount included inflated N12 billion for the building of a teaching hospital in the university, excluding the equipment, and another scandalous N1.6 billion spent to build a less than 150-room hostel in the institution. 
“And this is coming at a time the state is facing a serious economic recession while the College of Education, Ekiadolor, renamed Tayo Akpata University, established at the same time with the Edo University Iyamo is yet to receive any attention from the state government,” he claimed. 
The campaign organisation however added that the College of Medicine, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, still uses the Irrua Teaching Hospital, Irrua, owned by the federal government, for the clinical studies of its students without the state government considering building a teaching hospital for it.