•PDP carpets ruling party over Hushpuppi
By Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos, Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Chuks Okocha
Ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, and other leaders are billed to meet soon to strategise on how to ensure victory for the party’s governorship candidate, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a source close to the party’s hierarchy told THISDAY at the weekend.
One of the governors, who is also a member of the newly-constituted caretaker committee of the party, told THISDAY at the weekend that the expected meeting is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive – immediately after the last National Executive Committee’s meeting of the party recently in Abuja for the party to work towards reclaiming Edo State it lost to the PDP with the defection of the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
“At our National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the Villa recently, we ratified the candidature of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu – based on President Muhammadu Buhari’s recommendation. And the president also directed that we should mobilise all the party’s organs and ensure we deliver Edo State for APC.
“And in line with that, we are consulting all the APC governors, party’s leaders, especially our national leader, Bola Tinubu, and other party’s stakeholders on the need for us to meet very soon. Already, the campaign council has been constituted and members will be inaugurated this week,’’ the governor stated.
He added that the party has a little job to do in Edo State because of the popularity of the party’s candidate.
“Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a grassroots politician. He is at home with the politics of the state. As the leader of the opposition in Edo State in the last two general elections, he made things very difficult for us. Now, we are happy he has come back home. And with our full support, he will deliver Edo State to APC,’’ the governor stated.
Responding to the plans by the caretaker committee to dissolve some troubled states executives of the party, he said the committee was yet to take a position on the issue.
Meanwhile, one of the spokesmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council in the 2019 general election, Prince Kazeem Afegbua, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, expressed optimism that Ize-Iyamu will win the election.
‘’Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s comportment, diligence at delivering responsibilities, sense of organisation and marksmanship are direct opposite of Governor Obaseki’s combative style, laced with blackmail, pretentiousness and over sanctimonious.
“Democracy talks about constructive engagement and collective bargaining. It preaches inclusion, not exclusion. It reinforces participation, involvement, and collectivity. Governor Obaseki is the opposite of what an ideal democratic situation should be. His politics is destructive, exclusive, and demonising,’’ he stated.
Ize-Iyamu Denies Pouring Acid on Student as Undergraduate
Ize-Iyamu has denied pouring acid on a fellow student when he was an undergraduate at the University of Benin.
During the 2016 governorship campaign, a former governor of the state, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, had alleged that Ize-Iyamu, who was the candidate of the PDP in that election, poured acid on a student.
But in an online television programme monitored in Benin City yesterday, Ize-Iyamu said he drew the attention of the then UNIBEN administration to the plight of the student.
Ize-Iyamu, who said he ensured the student got first aid treatment, however, added that he and others linked to the incident were rusticated because the identity of the culprit was never known.
He said he entered the University of Benin in 1980 to read Political Science, but later changed to law and did not graduate until 1986 because of the rustication.
He explained: “When I was in the university, I was a member of the Pyrates Confraternity. At that time, we didn’t look at it as a cult arrangement, but some people were already coming in with tendencies that created problems. We had this very confrontational group and one evening, somebody reported to us that they beat up a final year student who was also close to us and they mentioned the names of those involved, and we said no, this is bad.
“Don’t also forget too that I was a student union leader, very prominent in the students’ union congress. So, I and some persons who heard about this complaint said let’s go and see the people concerned and talk to them.
“We went there and met with the people concerned, they opened the door for us and we were discussing the matter under a very cordial atmosphere only for some people to come in and before we knew it, there was smoke in the whole place and somebody shouted acid and somebody was shouting and screaming. It was then I realised that somebody has poured acid on somebody and I quickly rushed to the security post. I brought them in and we took the young man to get first aid treatment.
“Of course, the school set up an inquiry, and the person that was affected admitted that I was the one who brought security agents and that I was able to take him in for medical attention. I asked who poured it and he said he didn’t know.
“He said he knew the face but does not know his name and nobody appeared to know the name and the university said since you people don’t want to mention the name, we are going to sanction all of you involved and before we knew it they expelled us. But the reason they gave was that they were expelling us for belonging to a proscribed organisation. But the long and short of it is that we were on it for two years till 1986 when the Senate held a meeting and said these guys have been punished enough, that if you look at the records, they were not the one that committed what happened, so, we were called back, graduated and then went to the Law School,” he stated.
PDP Carpets APC over Hushpuppi
Meanwhile, the PDP has described the statement by the All Progressives Congress (APC) linking prominent opposition members with the accused fraudster, Raymond Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, as reckless and irresponsible.
The party said the fabrications have exposed how the APC administration has been using agencies under its control to frame innocent opposition members, dissenting voices, rival political parties and perceived opponents of the government on trumped-up charges under the guise of fighting corruption.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, stated that the desperate bid to frame innocent Nigerians not in any way involved with Hushpuppi, even after a broad investigation by prominent investigators, including the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), showed that the APC government has been victimising opposition members with fabricated charges.
The party described the statement by the APC as part of a heinous design by certain power mongers close to the APC administration to commence a fresh clampdown on perceived political rivals within and outside the opposition circles, ahead of the 2023 general election.
It said: “Nigerians should not be surprised when the APC will begin to list the names of innocent political leaders, including those who are now being persecuted in their party, on trumped-up charges, for political interests.
“While our party has no link whatsoever with Hushpuppi, as the APC also acknowledged, Nigerians are aware that his pictures with some prominent Nigerians, such as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, which the APC is frenzied about, do not suggest any affinity beyond the usual jostling by people, the world over, to be photographed with leaders.
“Of course, such happens to all prominent individuals, especially leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is, therefore, unfortunate that a ruling party, which is now led by a sitting governor, is spending its energy to frame innocent Nigerians instead of confronting the myriads of economic and security problems it caused the nation, in addition to finding a solution to the serious demands of COVID-19 pandemic.”
It added that if the APC is indeed fighting corruption, it should have called for the investigation of its leaders who, as state governors, ministers and even APC national chairman have been indicted for stealing and treasury looting.
It said the APC should be calling for the investigation of one of its governors, who was seen on a viral video, stuffing his robe with dollars, being proceeds of gratification, as well as its candidate in a forthcoming election, who has been declared by a former APC national chairman as a treasury looter, who is only good for “night meetings” and not fit to be state governor.
The PDP said: “Having been exposed, the PDP cautions the APC to steer clear of our members and other hard working Nigerians, in various fields of endeavour, who are perceived to be opponents of the APC.
“Our party will not be distracted by the APC, which has gone into panic mode over its imminent electoral loss in Edo as well as Ondo States.”