Vanessa Obioha writes on the unrivalled optimism of Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the September 19 governorship contest in Edo State
If the ousted National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole did not disentangle from the incumbent governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki; if the latter hadn’t defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the last minute to continue his political ambition to run for second term in the state, perhaps Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s bid to contest in the gubernatorial election in September will not be enmeshed in controversies. But that is just a possibility. Anyone familiar with the political landscape in Nigeria will not be gobsmacked by the series of reputational defamation displayed by contenders in the race to Edo’s most wanted public seat. It is an essential prop on the political stage.
Ize-Iyamu’s emergence as the APC’s gubernatorial candidate has been very dramatic such that his political intentions are almost muted. What thrives in the public domain about him is his past relationship with Oshiomhole. His opponents have fed on this storyline, recycled it to a point of redundancy that even their consumers are experiencing gastronomical pains digesting it.
Instead of engaging in a war of words, Ize-Iyamu chose to turn the other cheek as his faith requires him to do. He is rather keeping the records straight for the benefit of pundits and doubting Thomases.
Top on his mind is the S.I.M.P.L.E. Agenda, his template for governance if elected. There are purported claims that the lawyer and clergyman is not the originator of the blueprint. Reacting to the false accusations, Ize-Iyamu revealed that he had developed the roadmap as far back as 2013, before his first attempt to run for governor in the state in 2016. However, Don Pedro Obaseki, a brother to Godwin Obaseki initially advertised the agenda while announcing his intentions to run for office in a TV interview. On hearing about Don Pedro’s claims, Ize-Iyamui had put a call to him and demanded that he retract his statement and acknowledge him as the originator of the agenda which the former did.
To learn that this is one of the tricks his detractors will use to discredit his personality is almost risible to the clergyman.
“One good thing is that nobody is quarrelling with the agenda. What they are quarelling with is who wrote it. So they accept that the agenda is thorough, that the agenda makes sense. With all modesty, I don’t need to go to the rooftop, I wrote this as far back as 2013.”
Under the revised edition which is shorter in length and reflects the realities on ground, the agenda covers key areas of concern in the state which are represented by the letters. Thus, S stands for Security and Social Welfare, I stands for Infrastructural Development/Urban Renewal, M stands for Manpower Development and Training, P stands for Public Private Partnership (PPP), L stands for Leadership by Example, and E stands for Employment Creation and Social Empowerment Scheme.
The new document is also SMART, according to the APC candidate. It is another acronym that stands for the qualities of the proposed agenda. In this case, the agenda will be Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Reliable and Time Bound.
“We are conscious of the fact that if we are elected, it is for a period of four years. So, whatever we want to do, we have it at the back of our mind that we have a four year mandate, so we must execute and complete it within that period.”
While he didn’t state categorically if he will limit his tenure to one term, he emphasized that he will focus on his first term because nobody knows what may happen tomorrow.
Not done with his clarifications, Ize-Iyamu waded into the alleged godfatherism war between Obaseki and Oshiomhole.
“The narrative in some quarters is that the present Edo governor is doing a fantastic job and he is being oppressed by his godfather and other people who want to take Edo’s money. Since he refused, they kicked him out of the party. Let’s start with the wrong notion that we have a technocrat as a governor. How can you have a governor who didn’t pass his school certificate. His action alone breeds doubts on the educational system. How was he able to enter the university with three credits and none of them were English and Maths. So the issue of calling him a technocrat is a joke.”
Obaseki’s questionable academic qualifications were the main stumbling block that disqualified him from representing Edo state and was seen as the handwork of Oshiomhole.
But Ize-Iyamu thinks otherwise.
“He is always talking about godfather. Who is the godfather? What were his demands? Throughout the period they had this issue, even before I came into the APC, I have never heard the governor say this is the specific thing that Oshiomhole was demanding, just mere allegations. Even some politicians have asked him to mention names of those who wanted the Edo state government, yet no name came. So that story is not true.”
Ize-Iyamu also lamented the current state of Edo state, claiming that the state has become a den of kidnappers because the security votes are not well expended, thus security agents are not armed to their teeth to protect the lives of citizens.
“This is the governor who increased the security votes of the state from N6 billion to N7.5 billion. The money goes to him.”
He further alleged that Obaseki is yet to fulfill any of his campaign promises from the education sector to the health sector. He claimed that despite the loud cheer of EDO-BEST, one of Obaseki’s educational programmes, that the governor did not employ a teacher throughout his four-year term.
Despite all the shortcomings of the incumbent governor, Ize-Iyamu is offering to rescue the people of Edo if elected with passion, commitment, accountability and transparency.
One thing the lawyer has going from him is the coalition of interests supporting him, not only from the APC but also from the opposition party. With this level of support, Ize-Iyamu is confident that he may succeed in the upcoming election. But what really gives him the morale boost is the people of Edo. He is happy about the new level of political consciousness among the people.
“They are no longer voting people because he is from their neighbourhood, or he offered them cash or from their party. Rather, they are supporting me because they have read my S.I.M.P.L.E. Agenda and are convinced by my manifesto of hope,” he said.