Edo 2016: Ize-Iyamu spars Obaseki



The two major political parties in Edo State, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have held their primaries and two candidates; Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu have emerged to slug it out in the September 10 governorship race along with other candidates from the other parties.

The Director General of the PDP Governors Forum, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu, who was an aspirant but did not buy the nomination form of the party, resigned his position and pitched camp with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the PDP Governor’s Forum, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Onaiwu explained that he took the decision to be able to pursue his future ambition.

Part of the letter reads: “Unto every time there is a season, and in line with this Biblical truth, I wish to inform His Excellency of my resignation, effective, June 21, 2016 as the Director General of the PDP Governors Forum.

“I am persuaded to call it quits in order to pursue my future endeavour in other capacity. During my years as DG of the Forum, I am consoled by the fact that my loyalty, competence and service were at no time in doubt, therefore will be leaving with gratitude. I wish to thank His Excellency and all his brother governors, present and former, for their support during my term as DG and wish the Forum the best.”

He told journalists that he was still contesting the governorship election “But I am going to fly the flag of the APGA in Edo State”.

And even as the camp of Ize-Iyamu continued to celebrate the cerebral politician’s victory after trouncing his other two opponents in the PDP primary, two aspirants of the APC, Chris Ogiemwonyi and Kenneth Imansuagbon have however called for a forensic analysis of the voting materials used for the primary as they alleged that they were cloned.

In a joint press conference where they deployed one Okoh Chukwuka John, who claimed that the process was rigged in favour of Obaseki in connivance with the state government as well as forces loyal to the Government House in Benin the state capital.

He alleged that the conduct and announcement of the governorship committee that entered late in the night (from Saturday to Sunday morning) was a secret plot to bamboozle the delegates to pave way for the results in favour of the candidate of the party.

Ogiemwonyi accused the Masari-led Committee of deploying cloned ballot papers used for the conduct of the primary, which according to him was printed locally because the state government and its agents allegedly have in the contest.

He called on the “national leadership of our party and APC Edo State Primaries Appeal panel to order the repeat and resorting to all ballot papers, used for the primaries.”

Keen watchers of the PDP and observers have before the primary election expected Ize-Iyamu to win the primary going by the level of mobilisation he has undertaken and being a grassroots politician of long years standing.

He was part of the PDP at the beginning, left the party in 2006 to form the Grace Group with the motto: “No man is God” to fight the former Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) Chief Tony Anenih who allegedly masterminded their de-registration from the party. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole rode on the back of the group to become the governor of the state and when he left the APC in 2014, he went with some of his followers in the structure.

However, there was initial opposition to his sudden influence in the PDP when he returned but the leaders were said to have had a rethink after the PDP congresses where majority of the leadership of the party at the wards, local government and state levels were his people.

The Guardian gathered that the presence of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State who came to conduct the election also swayed the opinion of the leaders, in the early hours of Monday. Also, there were reports that messages were being sent to leaders to instruct delegates to vote for Ize-Iyamu.

Shortly after the primary election, Ize-Iyamu told journalists that the power of incumbency was no longer a factor in wining governorship election insisting that he would win the election come September 10.

“Incumbency is no longer a factor. What is important is the people and if you go down the street, the people are tired, they are disappointed, they are disenchanted with the present government and they want them to go. Everybody is saying change the change.”

He said the election would be very easy for the People’s Democratic Party but stressed that the party would not take anybody or party for granted adding that nobody can either intimidate or rigg them out of the governorship election in the state.

Ize-Iyamu noted that there was no amount of money that would be spent by the incumbent government that can manipulate the process against the peoples will.

“There is no amount of money that they will spend that can manipulate the process. I want to make something clear, you see, you can buy primaries, you cannot buy a general election.

On his fellow aspirants, he said: “I thank them for the way they went round the state whether you like it or not, they have helped to popularize the party and we really appreciate them and we look forward to working with them. It is not the winner takes all. We have not won anything yet, it is a family matter and I am hoping that they will continue to support me in the campaign and by the time I win, it is our government and not my government. The first journey has ended today, and we have started another journey; I appeal to my brothers: Mathew Iduoriyekemwen and Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri to join me and our party to liberate our people and the state from the APC.

“A few days ago, I presented to you a manifesto of hope —- the SIMPLE AGENDA, which offers measurable commitments that would be implemented with passion, single-mindedness, incisive competence and experience.

‘’And I told you the change that Edo people desire is not one based on sloganeering or deceit; that our people yearn for change that is real, life-enhancing, verifiable, purposeful, and sustainable.

‘’That is why I stand here this evening … to tell you that we cannot continue in lamentation and suffering. Now is the time to change the unfortunate change. And the future they have always told us to wait for is not in another time; it is not in another election; it is now and this is what I represent.’’

As the process leading to the election progressed, the PDP candidate claimed that the APC’s leaders, whom he said had held the state down for eight years would “unleash all kinds of lies and misinformation” on the people, urging the electorate to be ready to ask the APC some critical questions. “They (APC’s members) will tell you their candidate is the only person that can sustain the legacy of the out-going governor, having been the Head of Edo State Economic Team. But we must be prepared to ask them critical questions. We should ask them to mention one industry he has attracted to our state in the last eight year.

‘’Because we believe that any government that intends to bring real development and prosperity to its citizens must focus on comprehensive and sustainable development that encompasses several aspects including improvement of infrastructure, health, education, human resource development, job creation, industrialisation, agriculture, security and improvement of municipal services in the state.’’

Meanwhile, the APC has inaugurated a Reconciliation Committee to reach out to members who were aggrieved by the outcome of the governorship primary of the party held last Saturday.

Chairman of the party in the state, Mr. Anselm Ojezua in a statement said Prince Malik Afegbua, a member of Board of Trustees of the party, would chair the committee.

Other members of the Reconciliation Committee, according to the statement, are Hon. Lucky Imasuen, Mr. Austin Omofuma, Hon. Charles Idahosa, Hon. Theophilus Okoh, Senator Domingo Obende and Hon. Lawrence Okah.

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