The All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, charged the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as well as Governors Godwin Obaseki of Edo and Nyesom Wike of Rivers to purge themselves of their age-long undemocratic habits of election rigging, vote-buying, and violence.
This came as the PDP again flayed the APC for its “unconvincing response” to the allegation of plotting to rig the Edo governorship election slated for September 19, 2020.
In another development, the Eramah Anwian of Anwain Kingdom in Etsako East LGA of Edo North, HRM Mufutairu Oare, has assured Obaseki that whatever he desires from members of the Anwain community will be doubled for him in the governorship election.
Meanwhile, the APC governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has supported the proposed plan by foreign embassies, prominently the United States, to impose visa restrictions on political actors found guilty of sponsoring violence during elections or involved in acts to undermine the electoral process in the country.
The APC, which made the allegation in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, yesterday, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration that the APC could have used the military and other security services to overrun opposition states in the 2019 general election but chose free, fair elections, was a solid pointer that under the current administration, the days of stolen and procured electoral mandates were fast fading.
Nabena said: “Critical state institutions such as the Judiciary, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, security services have been the ultimate beneficiaries of the President’s impartiality and non-interference. We must all support the independence of our state institutions to deepen our democracy and improve our electioneering system.
“Ahead of the Edo State governorship election, the PDP candidate, Governor Obaseki continually spins puerile conspiracies on the role of federal might, while using his so-called Obaseki Boys and state apparatus under his control to harass the state House of Assembly and APC members in the state. On his part, Governor Wike as head of the PDP Campaign Council threatens violence.
“While we understand the panic and distress in the camp of the PDP and Governor Obaseki following the massive and widespread support given by the Edo electorate to the APC governorship candidate, Ize-Iyamu, the APC invites the PDP to join us in issue-based campaigns and at least attempt to sell to the Edo electorate the merit of their candidate, if any.
“The APC’s people-focused development records across the country form the basis of Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s six-point ‘SIMPLE agenda’ for the good people of Edo State which stands for Security, Infrastructural development, Manpower development, Public-Private Partnership, Leadership, and Employment creation.”
However, the PDP said it was not impressed by APC’s “unconvincing response” to the allegation of plotting to rig the Edo governorship election.
Reacting on behalf of the PDP, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi, said: “What is the APC taking Nigerians for? Is this how they would react to the plot we uncovered and informed Nigerians about? What has Governor Wike got to do with this?
“As I said recently, the ruling party has run out of smart arguments, and whatever they say these days no longer make sense to Nigerians. The PDP insists that voters must be allowed to vote by their conscience and anything short of that would be unacceptable.
“It is left for the APC, security agencies and the INEC, to win the confidence of Nigerians, particularly the good people of Edo State by committing to transparent and credible elections,” Odeyemi said.
Meanwhile, the Eramah Anwian of Anwain kingdom, HRM Oare while reassuring Obaseki of their support, said: “Mr. Governor, we are assuring you that you are at home. This community road has been a disaster for over a thousand years until your intervention. We were cut off from Edo State until you gave us a good road that integrated us back as members of the state. We cannot forget such a gesture. The government comes and goes and no government remembers that we exist. But Obaseki came and connected us back to the state through good roads.
“It took 24hours to come out from the community to the main road but today, the story is no more the same. In less than an hour, you can now approach various parts of the state due to a good network of roads.
“We are preparing a carnival to receive you on the 12th of this month but you came today, otherwise, you would have known what is called a reception of honor. Go to other areas to the campaign, you don’t need to campaign in this community because this community has no other option than the PDP. Anywhere Obaseki/Shaibu stands, that’s where the entire Anwain community will stand.”
The high point of the visit to the community was the conferment of a traditional title of performance on the governor and his deputy as Ozemonya and Ozonya of Anwain Kingdom, respectively.
In another development, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, in a zoom meeting with a team from the European Union, American Embassy, British High Commission, Canadian Embassy, and some other EU Member States, yesterday, commended the foreign partners for their contributions toward improving the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
He urged them to pursue investigations into acts of electoral violence in the country to uncover the sponsors and instigators as some political actors, after causing mayhem, often resort to media blackmail to blame the violence on others.
He accused the Obaseki-led Edo State government of invading the Edo House of Assembly with thugs and other elements while at the same time raising a false alarm to mislead the public.
Ize-Iyamu demanded a conclusive investigation into the seven persons arrested within the premises of the Edo Assembly Complex with illegal arms on the day of the invasion to uncover their sponsors and the political party they represent.
Addressing a question on the nature of his party’s campaign in light of COVID-19, Ize-Iyamu said they had developed a constantly-revised crowd control measures, including distribution of face masks, sanitizers, and constant temperature checks through infrared thermometers at all campaign events to prevent the spread of the disease.
He also said the campaign team had advised aged supporters to avoid campaign events given their vulnerability to the disease.
The Ojirua of Irrua, HRH Williams Momodu II, has lampooned Governor Obaseki over the invasion and vandalization of the Edo State House of Assembly complex last week.
He described the incident, which saw unknown persons embark on the removal of the roof of the Assembly and other acts of vandalism, as sad and a waste of government resources considering that state funds would be spent on repairs and rebuilding efforts.
The traditional ruler said this while receiving Pastor Ize-Iyamu, in his palace, yesterday.
He gave an open endorsement of Ize-Iyamu, addressing him as “the next Governor of Edo State.”
He said: “I welcome you, my governor. Your visit here is just to further familiarize yourself with our people as having already been chosen.
“Not too long ago, I watched on television as the President handed over the party’s flag to you. I wasn’t there but what I did in my room was to clap my hands.
“This is our son, he is going to be the next governor. I am the owner of Esan land. I will be celebrating 50 years on the throne next year June, I am sure this governor, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, is going to be my chairman.”
On his part, Ize-Iyamu expressed gratitude to the traditional ruler and the people of Irrua for their acceptance, promising to run an administration respectful of traditional institutions and partner all traditional rulers to address the security challenges of the state.
Meanwhile, Mr. Andrew Momodu, a former aide to the former APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, has defected to the PDP, even as he pledged the sum of N5 million to support the re-election of Obaseki.