BATTLE FOR OSADEBE AVENUE

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In spite of the flawed campaigns of the opponent, Ize-Iyamu is poised to win the Edo governorship election, writes John Mayaki

In continuation of its defeatist campaign strategy hinged on blackmail, falsehood and dangerous twisting of facts to both incite and stoke division, the Edo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently sponsored an open letter asking President Muhammadu Buhari not to meet with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the APC party’s candidate in the September 19 Governorship election in Edo State. The letter was purportedly written by ‘Concerned Edo State APC Stakeholders’.

Using its well-known and discredited tactics of putting its words into the mouths of non-existent characters, portrayed either as ‘concerned citizens’ or ‘stakeholders’, the PDP argued, laughably, that by meeting with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the president will “rubbish” his campaign against corruption because of the said N700 million case instituted in court by the EFCC, in which the candidate was named as a party.

According to the PDP, the case brought before Justice J.M. Umar of the High Court sitting in Benin City, with the suit No. FHC/BE21C/2016, against Pastor Ize-Iyamu and “four other accused persons” represents enough reason for the president to turn his back on the candidate, who emerged as the state’s All Progressives Congress standard-bearer, at the successful primary election he ratified. The meddlers also said that on account of the above non-issue, the president should divorce himself from the candidate whom he asked all organs of the APC, at the state and national level, to offer all the required support, to win the election.

The first pointer to the ridiculous nature of the argument, and indeed the entire affair, is that the PDP, having undergone the stress to commission the writing of the laboriously lengthy essay to police, carefully avoided outlining details when it came to naming all those accused in the said case, and instead settled for concealing “four other accused persons,” that revealed its contradiction each time it attempts to shamefully weaponize the case against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu whose soaring popularity and wide acceptance in the state is making them jittery.

The reason for this concealment, which is already uncovered by the people of Edo State, who have since ignored their childish tantrums, is because the four accused persons include top officials of the PDP in Edo State.

The election of Mr. Tony Aziegbemi as the Chairman of the Edo PDP and the appointment of Mr. Dan Orbih as the Chairman of the Campaign Council of the PDP came after the filing of the N700 million suit by the EFCC, and when taken to task on this by curious journalists and other interested persons, the PDP defended both appointments on the grounds that allegations and a court case are not evidence of wrongdoing because of the constitutional presumption of innocence which holds that unless convicted by a competent court, accused persons remain innocent of all charges.

Besides, the PDP argued that the said sum, in any case, was sourced from private bodies, not from the coffers of government, and it was distributed to its rank and file in the state.

Summarily, the PDP, in its own argument and robust defence of its leaders, had already vindicated Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. This is further corroborated by the fact that although the case was for an alleged improper practice that took place in 2015 over the campaign funds of President Goodluck Jonathan when he was seeking re-election, the PDP, in 2016, unilaterally elected and backed Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as its governorship candidate.

Even for a toddler, it is clear that the open letter to the president is a political, though unintelligent attempt to arrest the progressive strides of Pastor Ize-Iyamu and the APC to victory on the 19th September election, having won the goodwill of the people of Edo State.

Although these faceless persons claim to write on behalf of Edo people at home and in the diaspora, the mendacious claim is exposed by the deluge of endorsements received daily by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from the people of Edo State across the world, including prominent members of Mr. Godwin Obaseki’s government and family, who are resigning in numbers never seen before, because they are convinced of Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s integrity, competence, and a manifesto geared towards moving Edo State forward.

We are confident that Mr. President is well aware of the vicious, unprincipled, and mindless attacks on innocent people and their reputation by the PDP, having been a victim of their flexible principles himself. Therefore, he needs very little convincing on why their jejune demand, alongside the shameful insistence on dragging others into their campaign of calumny, stems from their approaching defeat in the forthcoming election.

This clarification is made to unsuspecting members of the public who may be tricked into believing the lies of the ailing PDP. It is a party of power-mongers pitted against themselves by their unrestrained ambitions, and still operating on the “do or die” politics.

Mayaki is the Chairman, Edo State APC Media Campaign Council