As tension continues to rise ahead of the Edo State governorship election, President Muhammadu Buhari has Warns APC against Zamfara, Rivers experience As APC, PDP governors bicker to win the election.
President Buhari received the
governorship candidate at the State House alongside Caretaker Committee insisted that the much-anticipated poll must be transparent.
The president who stated this while receiving the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, however, urged party leaders and campaign team to do all that is legal and constitutionally necessary to win the election.
President Buhari received thegovernorship candidate at the State House alongside Caretaker Committee chairman of the APC and governor of Yobe State,MaiMalaBuni; chairmanofProgressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, and APC Campaign chairman for Edo State elections and governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
The president’s charge on transparency comes as governors on the platforms of APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) talked tough yesterday about their bid to win the September 19, election.
However, Buhari said “What I want is a transparent process so that the confidence of the people will be strengthened.’’
He further urged APC leaders at the national and state levels to follow the electoral process in an open and transparent manner.
Admonishing the party leaders to avoid the pitfalls that affected APC’s victory in Rivers, Zamfara and Bayelsa states in the 2019 elections, President Buhari pointed out that with the resolution of the “acute crisis’’ in the party in Edo State, he was optimistic that the party would regain its pride of place in winning elections, and serving the people.
The president congratulated Ize-Iyamu on his emergence as the party’s candidate in Edo State after a “turbulent process’’, assuring him of his full support.
Earlier in his remarks, chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni, who presented the candidate, told the president that: “Pastor Ize- Iyamu is a seasoned grassroots politician who is loved by his people.” He stressed that President Buhari’s blessings on the candidate further validated the party’s confidence.
The chairman of the APC Edo State gubernatorial campaign and Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, said the party in line with its principles, would lead a clean campaign, devoid of acrimony, hatred and violence.
Governor Ganduje said the campaign had started on a good and happy note, with the APC already taking over the state legislature with a majority of 17 out of 24.
In his response, Ize-Iyamu assured the president of his commitment to ensuring good governance in the state if elected in the September election, recalling that he served as deputy chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee of the APC at its formation stage.
Ize-Iyamu said he was glad to return to the APC, describing his initial exit as that of a “prodigal son’’.
The APC candidate thanked the president for the warm and fatherly reception, saying he was honoured to receive the party’s flag from the president.
He, however, told State House press corps that he was fully in charge of his campaign as a popular candidate who served the state as chief of staff and secretary to state government in previous administrations.
The candidate added that former APC chairman , Adams Oshiomhole, had already explained that his initial unfriendly comments during the 2016 campaigns were purely political aimed at giving another candidate an edge in the elections.
“Let me first inform you that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is not the face of the campaign. As you rightly know, I am the gubernatorial candidate and Mallam Gani Audu is the deputy.
“It is the PDP that keeps mentioning his name, talking about him and playing tapes as if he is the candidate. But I want to inform you that I am very well known in Edo.
I have lived there all my life, I have been chief of staff, secretary to the state government and we also have a local director- general of the campaign, Gen. Cecil Esekhaigbe (retd.) from a Edo Central, who is well respected.
“And of course the national has also established a local council headed by no less a person than the governor of Kano. So we are very strong and we are doing well.
Of course, Adams Oshiomhole comes from Edo, he is an APC member and it is natural for him to campaign for our party but certainly he is not the face.
“Unlike what happened four years ago where maybe, the candidate could not speak and somebody had to speak for him. But anyone will tell you that everywhere I have gone, I have been the one speaking. So that statement is not correct,” he said.
On whether Oshiomhole’s comments about him during the 2016 elections may mar his chances Ize-Iyamu said “I’m not worried. In the heat of politics we tend to say a lot of things. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who said those things then had also explained the circumstances under which he said it, which is that he had to de- market me to market his product.
“That he didn’t have much to say about his product and so the only thing that he had to do was to see how much he could de-market me. He had even gone ahead to apologize that most of the things he said, for example that I am not a lawyer, he has realize is not true, that I am not a pastor he has realize is not true. He has apologized and moved on,” Ize-Iyamu said.
Speaking on the fears of violence marring the conduct of the election raised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), he blamed the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki for stoking tension.
He said: “It is the governor that has been beating the war drums. My billboards are being vandalized, nobody has touched their own. We wrote petitions to the commissioner of police, the Director DSS and they will attest to the fact that on a regular basis they are destroying our billboards.
“They are the ones that want to make the state ungovernable and I am sure you heard the governor say that himself and his deputy have immunity and so they can deal with anybody.
“I don’t have immunity, I don’t want to go to jail and it is not in my character to deal with anyone. They did their flag off at the stadium, nobody molested them.”
APC Govs Solidly Behind Ize-Iyamu – Bagudu
Speaking also to newsmen at the State House, Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu has declared that APC governors under the platform of Progressive Forum are solidly behind the candidature of the party flag bear in the Edo gubernatorial election, stressing that it is laughable to suggest otherwise.
Bagudu who is also the chairman of the progressive governors forum, said “The question has been asked whether all APC governors are in full support of our candidate and the simple answer is yes. It is laughable to suggest otherwise.
“Progressive Governors Forum was solidly behind our party in the resolutions that was reached on June 25, that saw the emergence of the caretaker committee that saw the ratification of the candidature of Pastor Ize-Iyamu and we have consulted with the chairman of the caretaker committee in putting in place the campaign committee which is ably chaired by the Governor of Kano State and supported by other governors.
“Since the candidate emerged, since the ratification, all the APC governors have been working in different ways to ensure the success of our party and let me just remind some of you, this is not different from what we have done before.
“For the progressive governors forum the defining thing is continuity of All Progressive Congress in governance at the federal and across Nigeria and we will support our party any day. Our president has made it very clear about his expectations as to deliver our party in any elections and that is what we are going to do,” he said.
On his part, Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje said Edo Stategovernorship elections would be a walk in the park for the party on the grounds that the incumbent governor performed abysmally.
“Your question is that we are contesting against a serving governor in Edo State. Yes, that is a very important question at this material time,” he claimed.
PDP Will Resist Attempt To Remove Obaseki – Wike
However, chairman of PDP National Campaign Council for the Edo State governorship election, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has declared that the party will resist every attempt at removing Governor Godwin Obaseki from office through impeachment.
This is as he also declared the impeachment of the Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Frank Okiye and his Deputy, Hon Roland Asoro, by some members of the House as a completely futile act.
Wike, who spoke with newsmen at Government House, Port Harcourt yesterday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the ruling APC not to cause breakdown of law and order in Edo State through violence.
The Rivers State governor insisted that the APC was not prepared for a free and fair election in Edo State and wants to use federal might to rig the September 19, poll.
Wike said: “My briefing has to do with events in Edo State and as the chairman of the National Campaign Council for Edo State 2020 governorship election, I have to let the press know and the world to know the effects and how it affects the campaign council to realize our objective by winning Edo State.
“My party, the Peoples Democratic Party has reacted to that, the Governors’ Forum of the PDP has also reacted to that and as the chairman of the campaign council, we owe it as a duty to lend our voices as to the happenings in Edo State.
“Let me say clearly that our party, who appointed us as the Campaign Council, that we totally condemn the illegal and provocative invasion of the Edo State House of Assembly by political thugs of the All Progressives Congress and the purported impeachment of the duly elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House.
“Even the assemblage of absentee lawmakers-elect with no legitimate claims of membership of the Edo State House of Assembly, cannot lawfully convene in the Ogbowu private residence of Pastor Ize-Iyamu, the APC governorship candidate, to unseat and effect a change of leadership in Edo State House of Assembly.
“Consequently, the purported impeachment of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker is a mere charade;
completely futile act that exists only in the imagination of evil perpetrators and their crook and unintelligent co- travellers and sponsors.
“It is now clear to all the signing lines that what is playing out in Edo State is an orchestrated script by the sinking opposition APC to intimidate the PDP and illegally impeach it’s candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, having seen clearly that they cannot win the September 19, 2020 governorship election without any miracle.
“We have raised the alarm before that the APC is not ready for a free and fair contest and will do all sort of things including violence with the backing of federal might to rigged and claim unmerited victory at the September election by all cost.
“Nigerians can now bear us witnesses that our claims and fears at the desperation of the APC and its governorship candidate, are neither far-fetched or without basis.
“In the circumstance, we are constrained to warn that ours is still a fragile democracy and the war-like anarchic approach of the APC to a general election poses a very serious threat to the survival of democracy in Edo State and Nigeria in general.”
Wike added that APC and its candidate should be held responsible if unfolding events in the state spiral to total breakdown of law and order in the state.
“The PDP will resist every attempt to unlawfully remove Governor Obaseki from office or rig the September 19 governorship election against the will of the majority of the people.
“We therefore call on His Excellency, the President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the international community to prevail on the APC to stop the needless violence, play the games by the rules and allow the good and peaceful people of Edo State to freely elect their governor come September 19, 2020,” he added.
17 lawmakers insist on sitting as Edo women, youths march for Obaseki
In a related development, hundreds of women and youths walked on the streets of Benin, Edo State capital yesterday in solidarity with Governor Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu.
The supporters of Obaseki also called for peaceful campaigns and poll.
But the 17 pro-Oshiomhole members of Edo Assembly led by Hon Victor Edoror, maintained that they would sit on Friday at the Assembly complex.
Adequate security was provided for Edoror and the 16 other APC lawmakers who are backing Ize-Iyamu.
DSS operatives, policemen and other security personnel were on standby at the Assembly complex in Benin to prevent breakdown of law and order.
Illegal Take Over Of Legislative, Executive Will Cause Chaos – PDP
Govs Meanwhile, governors on the platform of PDP warned yesterday that any attempt to effect an unconstitutional takeover of either legislative or executive power in Edo State would lead to unpleasant consequences far beyond the shores of Edo State.
The PDP governors under the aegis
of the PDP Governors Forum (PGF) therefore requested an emergency meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to deal with the increasing unconstitutional use of the police authorities for partisan politics.
The Forum in a statement signed by its director general, Hon CID Maduabum called on the people of Edo State to remain vigilant but peaceful in resisting any attempt to desecrate democracy and constitutionalism in Edo State by the APC and their supporters.
The statement said “We condemn unequivocally the Police invasion of the Edo State House of Assembly in the early hours of August 6, 2020.. The House of Assembly was surrounded and cordoned off by the police without the invitation or request of the legitimate authorities of the State or the House. This apparently was to give cover to the unlawful and illegal attempt to seize the House of Assembly in aid of unconstitutional acts being hatched by some former members-elect of the Edo House of Assembly.
“The forum further condemns as illegal, unconstitutional, and an act of impunity, the purported swearing in of some former members elect and purported election of new presiding officers in a private residence in Benin without the legitimate officials of the House of Assembly as required by law. It is the height of political brigandage and desperation. Why are the perpetrators of this illegal and unlawful activity afraid of facing the
electorate in a free and fair election?
Why are they afraid of the giant strides and impressive performance of His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki?
“We warn that any attempt to effect an unconstitutional take over of either legislative or executive power in Edo State will lead to unpleasant consequences far beyond the shores of Edo State. We appeal to Mr President to caution the Security agencies to remain neutral and even handed in Edo State and not lend its authority to unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional acts of a desperate gang of power mongers. We consequently request an emergency meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to deal with the increasing unconstitutional use of the police authorities for partisan politics.
“We call on the people of Edo State to remain vigilant but peaceful in resisting any attempt to desecrate democracy and constitutionalism in Edo State by the APC and their supporters.
“Finally, we request the Security agencies to re-strategise and concentrate on the emergent threats to national security currently being experienced in many parts of the country in increased rural and urban banditry, Boko Haram insurgency and kidnapping of innocent Nigerians. Nigerians deserve the full concentration of Mr President and the armed Forces and police in order to quell this monster,” the statement read.
Oshiomhole Should Not Be Face Of Guber Campaigns – PGF DG
However, director-general of APC’s Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, has cautioned against allowing the immediate-past national chairman of APC, Comrade Oshiomhole, lead the party’s campaigns for the Edo State gubernatorial elections.
Lukman, however, submitted that for the desired results in Edo State, the APC should adopt the campaign model of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos State that has continued to positively market the party and any candidate presented for elections since 2007.
In statement he issued in Abuja, titled, ‘Progressive politics –which way APC?”, the PGF DG further stressed the need for Ize-Iyamu to take the lead and be the face of his campaign for the people to take him seriously ahead of the elections.
“It is important that immediately following the resolution of APC’s internal leadership crisis with the emergence of Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/ Convention Planning Committee, internal party debate is promoted on issues of strategies to bolster our electoral viability. This should not be taken for granted.
The test for all of this is Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
“How our leaders are able to work
as a united front and the messages of hope and how determined we are as a party to inspire citizens into voting our candidates should be the focus.
In other words, our campaigns and our candidates must project the aspirations of the people and the future our party offers.
“Without any doubt, the signal coming from Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN of Ondo State after emerging as the candidate of the APC is very encouraging and clearly consistent with the kind of progressive politics APC leaders should be promoting.
Immediately after the July 21, 2020 APC primary, notwithstanding that Governor Akeredolu won the primary election convincingly with 2,458 votes with his closest rival Olusola Oke who came second polling 262 votes, Governor Akeredolu has been going round, meeting all those who contested the elections with him and negotiating reconciliation.
“This demonstrate that Governor Akeredolu is magnanimous in victory, at least within the party. With this, it should be expected that Akeredolu will approach the campaigns for Ondo governorship election based on a strategy of winning the votes of Ondo people. The message he seems to be conveying is that he respects the rights of the people of Ondo State to make their choice and he is offering himself as a worthy consideration to be the choice of the people.
“The reverse seems to be the case in Edo State. As opposed to reconciliation, it is loud drums of war that has taken over the airwaves in Edo State. Comrade Oshiomhole has relocated to Edo State and taken over the APC campaign and the campaign is proceeding in a manner that suggest the Edo State governorship election is an extension of the personal battle between the Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole,” he said.
‘Buhari’s meeting with Ize-Iyamu, ill-advised, dent on president’s image, compromises war on corruption’
However, the PDP campaign council in Edo State has said the meeting between President Buhari and Ize- Iyamu was ill advised in light of the anti- corruption posture of the President.
A statement by state campaign council, signed by the publicity secretary of PDP, Chris Osa Nehikhare, underscored that the meeting was ill- advised and a dent on the image of President Buhari, whose administration is known for the spirited fight against the hydra-headed monster called corruption, which has encumbered the development of the country for decades.
“Unknown to President Buhari and his advisers, the APC gubernatorial candidate is desperately in need of an endorsement from someone like the President, to shore up his battered image in Edo State and the larger court of public opinion that have followed Ize- Iyamu’s trial very closely.
“Ize-Iyamu is currently being tried for money laundering to the tune of N700 million. The matter is before Honourable Justice J. M. Umar at the Federal High Court in Benin City, Edo State, with suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed the case preferring eight count charges against him and four other accused persons bordering on alleged illegal receipt of public funds to the tune of N700 million for the purpose of the 2015 general elections, contrary to the provisions of the EFCC Act and the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act. His next court date is October 15th.
“It is our considered view that associating with a man with this corruption baggage (alleged) compromises the integrity of the President’s fight against corruption and sends mixed signals to Nigerians, home and abroad as well as other nationals who have invested enormous faith in the President’s fight against corruption. The Nigeria we envisage under Buhari’s watch is one in which people like Ize- Iyamu, will be told in clear terms, to go and clear their names, before being seen with, or around the occupier of the exalted office of the president.
“This dangerous precedent, if set, will embolden other Nigerians with similar or worse charges to hobnob and organise hang-out sessions with the president in the days and weeks to come,” the statement said.
Corroborating, national leadership of PDP described the endorsement of Ize- Iyamu by President Buhari as an act that encourages corruption.
The party in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, condemned the presentation of flag to the APC candidate in the Presidential Villa saying it validates their position that the Buhari administration is fighting perceived opponents and not corruption.
“Mr. President ought to have been aware that Ize-Iyamu is standing trial over allegations of corruption, in addition to declaration by his party’s former national chairman that the APC candidate is a treasury looter, who should not be trusted with the position of the governor of Edo state.
“The presentation of flag to a person standing trial on allegation of corruption right in the Villa has shown to the world that APC is indeed the headquarters of corruption,” the
Obaseki’s Woeful Leadership Of Edo State Will End Soon, Says Tinubu
The National leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has blamed the imbroglio at the Edo State House of Assembly on Governor Godwin Obaseki’s actions, saying his woeful leadership of Edo state will hopefully be brought to an end soon in the forthcoming governorship polls.
Tinubu who reacted to the recent development at the state’s House of Assembly described the governor’s action as, “the gravest possible assault on constitutional democracy and the rule of law and escalation of violence and tension in the state he purports to govern.”
In a statement he personally signed, Tinubu said Obaseki adopted the strong arm tactics of dictators, by first of all, blocking the inauguration of two-thirds of the assembly and then importing thugs, to deface and destroy parts of the assembly.
The former Governor of Lagos State further berated Obaseki, accusing him of making a mockery of Nigeria’s constitution by blocking the timely inauguration of two-thirds of the elected members of the Edo State House of Assembly, and now resorting to the strong-arm tactics of dictators.
According to Tinubu, Obaseki had sponsored hoodlums to deface, indeed destroy, parts of the House of Assembly Building in Benin while feigning the building is undergoing renovation.
“Then, he imports sand and gravel to prevent access to the assembly complex,” Tinubu said.
He noted that by this singular act, Obaseki spent state “funds to thwart the very apparatus of the state government he was sworn to uphold.”
Tinubu said that the Governor squandered “public money to defeat the very will of the public. This is tragic beyond words.”
The statement added, “As a pretext for his refusal to allow the Edo House of Assembly to function, Governor Obaseki’s actions are perverse. This is a cowardly act and a move to thwart representative democracy in Edo.
“No renovation has been planned for the state house building.
No appropriation was made in the state’s budget. The only reason any renovation could be deemed necessary is the destruction wrought by his own goons.
“Governor Obaseki’s governance of Edo State recalls the worst excesses of our military past and represents a direct threat to the democratic order. By his refusal to permit duly elected members of the Edo State House of Assembly to perform their constitutional duties, Governor Obaseki betrayed
contempt for the people of his state and, unfortunately, his ignorance of Nigeria’s constitutional order. As a Governor he ought to know better than to obstruct the functioning of his own legislature, but perhaps he is in need of a quick lesson.
“The legislative function is, perhaps, the most foundational obligation of any government. In the UK, the Parliament was famously said to be “that supreme and absolute power, which gives life and motion to the English government”. In most democratic systems, the legislature is the arm of government containing within itself the people’s representatives in government.
“As such, the legislative arm is critical. It is an important symbol of democratic governance. The voice, will and desires of the people are reposed in their elected representatives sent to the legislature to express and distil their amorphous will into the laws and codes by which the society has agreed to live.
“In the context of a constitutional democracy such as ours, the legislature’s authority stems, in effect, from the recognition that it is the authentic mouthpiece of the people, entrusted with the responsibility of representing their collective will and the power to interpret and mould it into the laws of the land. It is, in short, not to be toyed with as a plaything of an errant and ill- disciplined governor. Undermine the legislature and you imperil democracy and allow governance to descend into anarchy.
“Indeed, it is no coincidence that of the three arms of government, the powers of the legislature are enumerated first, in our Constitution. The legislature is the authority imbued with the power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the federation and states.
Indeed, the Constitution makes clear that a Governor’s role primarily extends to the maintenance and implementation of the laws set down for him by his state’s legislature.
“In placing himself above the legislature, deciding who gets in and who is shut out, Governor Obaseki not only places himself above the nation’s constitutional order, he places himself above the people of Edo State whose representatives he so brazenly tramples upon.
One can only wonder, given the desperation with which he has acted and his belligerent refusal to honour the free choice of the people of his own state, what mortal offence the majority members he has shut out have committed to warrant such treatment.
“Although Governor Obaseki’s conduct in the past year is undoubtedly impeachable, these legislators have made no threat to impeach the
Their only desire is to peacefully perform the duties asked of them by the constituents who elected them. What, then, is their offence?
“By all appearances, the Governor is punishing these legislators for their loyalty to a party that is no longer his own.
If every governor behaves as he, obstructing the performance of any legislator who does not pledge to him their undying fealty, the entire edifice of democratic governance in Nigeria would grind to a complete halt.
“In his campaign for re-election, Governor Obaseki promises to represent and defend the interests of all the people of his state. Yet, so blinded is he by his personal ambition, he sees no irony in the fact that his actions have denied two-thirds of the people of his state their right to representation in the state’s only legislative chamber.
“Governor Obaseki must think the people of his state to be as foolhardy and ignorant as he, for even as he courts their votes, he continues to make a mockery of the institution of democracy in his own House of Assembly.
If Governor Obaseki believes the people are not aware of this inherent irony, he will undoubtedly learn the cost of this grave miscalculation in the fullness of time.
“The rule of law and preservation of democracy is too important to sacrifice at the altar of any one man’s ambition. Governor Obaseki’s woeful leadership of Edo State will hopefully be brought to an end soon by the very people whose rights he has so carelessly trampled upon.
One can only hope that the damage he is doing to the most important of the state’s democratic institutions can just as easily be repaired.”