Edo: Mass defection from APC, signpost of defeat for Ize-Iyamu ― PDP
Godwin Obaseki (left) and Ize-Iyamu

By Ozioruva Aliu

IN about two months from today, Edo state would go to the polls to elect a new governor as the tenure of the incumbent would expire November 12th 2020.

There are 14 political parties that have been accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to participate in the September 19th election.

Out of the 14, there are two dominant parties which obviously are now the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and now opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.

The two candidates of the parties; Governor Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu have embarked on campaigns and they have been forced to re-arrange their structure because of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic. They have embarked on town hall meetings, house to house campaigns, neigbhouhood meetings including media campaigns using all available platforms in the conventional and non conventional media.

While Obaseki is harping on consolidation flowing from continuity with which he took over from Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu few days ago re-launched his SIMPLE agenda which he wants to use to woo voters.

He said he was inspired by the 1978 manifesto of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN under the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

He said every component of the manifesto created room for employment generation just as he promised to continue with the program he would inherit from the current administration if he wins the election particularly the Benin Water Storm project designed to check flooding in the state.

He said: “When Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1978 formed the Unity Party of Nigeria, even though I was quite young, I was fascinated by the manifesto of his party, the four cardinal programs of the UPN namely: free education, free health services, integrated rural development and employment for all. It was very easy to understand and it was all encompassing and that manifesto alone made me to take an interest in the party and I became a member of the youth wing. From an early age, I started appreciating the role of manifestoes in party formation and to me it was key in the choice of the party to belong to”

READ ALSO: Edo 2020: 35 political parties collapse structures for Obaseki

Speaking on projects, Ize-Iyamu said “Even though it is difficult to see, if there are projects that Obaseki has started I can assure you that we will complete them, it does not make sense to abandon projects”. On the moribund Bendel Breweries, he said “people are making money from breweries so why will Edo State not make money from what it has? No matter the problem it has, it can be resolved. We will discuss with all those involved in the Bendel Brewery matter. It is better for the factory to be functional than for the factory to be closed”

He also said that “It’s sad and regrettable that my clarity of purpose is what shortsighted minds call desperation; it’s really a definite statement of ambition.”

Ize-Iyamu said when he was convinced to contest for the governorship of the state, ”the first thing that came to my mind was what do I have to offer, how will Edo people understand what I want to offer because I have found so many chief executives, governors, political aspirants and candidates who run simply on verbal promises, nothing is documented and no clear programme they want to achieve when  they win. Four years on when in office, they are trying to learn the ropes, they are trying to understand the system and then they will tell you that they need a second term to be able to do well.

“In coming up with this document, I told my team that the problem with some previous documents is that they are too voluminous, they are too technical and people find it difficult to understand. What attracted me to the UPN manifesto is that it was just four cardinal programmes and many years after, I can still recite it because it was easy”.

From the document, S stands for Security and social welfare, I-Infrastructural development/Urban renewal, M-Manpower development and training, P-Public, Private, Partnership, L-Leadership by example and E- employment creation and social empowerment scheme. (SIMPLE).

On his part, Obaseki said he would reinvigorate the successes of his first term by taking his developmental projects to the next level.

He recently declared that “We have pursued an aggressive reform agenda for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) that has transformed the Government Science and Technical Education (GSTC), formerly Benin Technical College, into success story.”

He said he needed to consolidate his developmental strides in the state, emphasising that his re-election is “not negotiable.”

He noted that “no individual can determine who will become governor. Only God and the people can make the decision.”

The governor said his interest to continue in office is for the right reasons. “I want to assure you that this is a fight in which we will prevail. We will fight and succeed. It is not my fight; it is a fight for the right purpose. I am not going to back off because I know victory is sure,” the governor said.

”We earn less today than we did in 2016 when we came into power, so where is the money to waste? We know how much we inherited as debt; we have to service them. Some people sit and say we should focus on stomach infrastructure. I said no, that I would rather focus on mental infrastructure.”

The governor expressed appreciation to the group for understanding where the challenges were coming from and for supporting the truth.

He said through EDOBEST (Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation) , expansion of infrastructure in terms of road, his administration has taken the state from where he met it and that he would consolidate on them in his second term.

“The sectors that are of priority to us are those that affect our people, first education, infrastructure, those for us are what we call sine qua non, the things we must do, particularly education, we are focusing on basic education, we are renewing our education system, we are making sure that the children now learn, so it is not just enough for the children to go to school, they must learn while in school. We have trained over 11,000 teachers.

“Technical education is another area of priority. Infrastructure; we are investing in creating a enabling environment for businesses to thrive and to make sure that there is law and order. And to make sure that the judicial system works we are putting a lot of emphasis on human training, on human capacity so we have things like innovation hub where people are encouraged about farming, try their hands in technology.”

His first term has also seen to the renovation  of the abandoned secretariat complex, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Samuel Ogbemdia stadium, exploring opportunities in the agricultural sector running into billions of naira.

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