A meeting of top leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State to strategise for the September 19 governorship election almost ended in a fiasco on Thursday following a shouting match between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shuaibu.
By Bisi Olaniyi
— The duo reportedly fell out over release of campaign funds —
— Obaseki’s family members endorse Ize-Iyamu —
— Two supporters of APC’s Ize-Iyamu shot in Edo —
— APC candidate receives blessings from Otaru of Auchi —
Shuaibu, according to sources, had provoked the governor by expressing disappointment at Obaseki’s delay in releasing funds for the various committees set up to drive the PDP campaign.
The deputy governor reportedly told his principal that there was nothing to show that the party was ready for the polls.
The Governor’s Office on Saturday denied any such confrontation between the duo and said it was an invention of the rival All Progressives Congress (APC).
Some members of the Obaseki extended family say they will rather support the flag bearer of the APC in the election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, than their own while suspected thugs shot two supporters of the APC candidate at Igarra, Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of the state on Friday.
According to an insider’s account of the Thursday meeting of the PDP hierarchy in Edo State, trouble started when Obaseki declared that all hands must be on deck for the party to defeat APC’s Ize-Iyamu and his running mate, Mallam Gani Audu.
Responding to the challenge, however, Shuaibu reportedly said the governor was not serious about winning the election.
Shuaibu, it was gathered, reminded Obaseki that many committees had been set up in the last two weeks, but the governor refused to fund them, stressing that Ize-Iyamu, other leaders and members of APC in Edo had been busy campaigning in the 192 wards across the 18 local government areas of the state while nothing was happening in the PDP.
Not finished yet, Shuaibu accused Obaseki of luring him to fight his (Shaibu’s) political godfather, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is from the same Etsako West LGA.
Shaibu was quoted as stating that Obaseki and other PDP leaders were holding fruitless meetings and setting up committees without funding them, while Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu and other APC leaders were busy campaigning, with many PDP members defecting to the party (APC).
The deputy governor then threatened to back out of the electioneering and return to APC, which he said he left in pain.
It was gathered that attempts by the SSG, Osarodion Ogie, to prevail on Shuaibu to halt his strong remarks further infuriated the deputy governor, who told Ogie to shut his mouth and sit down.
Chief Charles Idahosa, who was at the meeting, sources said, supported Shuaibu, expressing fear that Oshiomhole would send all of them to jail if they were unable to win the September election. He urged Obaseki to release funds for the campaigns.
The deputy governor later walked out of the meeting, after describing his boss as unserious and not ready for the poll.
The governor, all the while, was also hitting back at his deputy, sources said.
There was no confrontation, says Governor’s spokesman
The Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, denied any rift between the governor and his deputy.
He alleged that the “falsehood” could only have emanated from APC leaders and members, who he claimed had no substance in their campaigns, but engaging in propaganda.
“The lie that there was a clash between Governor Obaseki and his deputy should be dismissed in its entirety. Whatever incident they allude to only exists in the imagination of the purveyors,” he said in a statement.
He added: “There was indeed a meeting with key stakeholders of the PDP, which ended with everyone in high spirits. There was a spirit of cordiality and everyone shared their ideas and inputs on how to deliver the party in the September 19 governorship election.”
Osagie urged Edo people to ensure that APC members were kept away from government by voting en masse for Obaseki and Shaibu.
Obaseki’s family members endorse Ize-Iyamu
Some members of the Obaseki extended family yesterday pledged their support for Ize-Iyamu ahead of the election.
The endorsement came during a meeting at the Benin private residence of the APC governorship candidate.
Earlier in the week, many aides, appointees, and other government officials resigned their positions to back Ize-Iyamu.
A cousin of Edo governor, Victor Obaseki, while speaking at the meeting, admitted that although Godwin was his blood, he would not be getting the support of some family members.
He said: “I am here today (yesterday) in company with my cousins to support Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
“Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, the Executive Governor (of Edo State), is our cousin. Generally, the Obasekis have their own way of doing things.
“We are a different branch of faith. We are supporting our brother, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, with unalloyed support fully for him.
“I have supported him (Ize-Iyamu) before, and I will continue to support him. We will do all our campaigns for him without let or hindrance, fully from the bottom of our hearts.”
Edo governorship candidate of APC, in his remarks, expressed delight at the support of the members of Obaseki’s family, stressing that it served as a confirmation of the poor administration that Godwin had given to Edo State in the past four years.
He also praised the members of Obaseki’s family for not allowing sentiments to becloud their judgment in their support for the right person to lead Edo State for the next four years.
Ize-Iyamu said: “Let me thank you for the endorsement. I have known some of you for many years and I am very happy that politics has not strained our relationship.
“It is true as Osaro said that far away in New York, I had the opportunity of meeting with him and other Edolites, where I shared my ambition.
“Osaro has been a good gentleman and humble man, and has always declared his support.
“He came out this morning to say Godwin has not done well, and not because they answer the same surname would continue to support him and go through the very poor performance that we have seen in the past four years.
“They will not allow the sentiments or even deceit of brotherhood to make them to vote for somebody they know is not qualified for a position.”
Obaseki has groped in the dark for four years, says APC candidate
Speaking at a media parley in Benin, Ize-Iyamu said Obaseki has been groping in the dark over the last four years without a manifesto.
He said he joined the race to make a difference and asked residents of the state to “let us truly move Edo forward.”
He said: “The person (Obaseki) that was running then (in 2016) and even now has no agenda. So, they tried to distract me from speaking about my agenda.
“This time, I said I would not be distracted and I would make Edo people know that those who want to run for office must tell Edo people in black and white/in writing, what they intend to do, not just verbal promises that could be denied tomorrow.
“That’s why we have to come up again with the SIMPLE agenda.
“I am the author of the SIMPLE agenda. The persons who are laying claim to it are just trying to be mischievous.
“As far back as 2016, Amazon was already selling online copies of my agenda, which was titled: “The Political Manifesto of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu,” and nobody has sued them, because they realised that I am the author of the SIMPLE agenda.
“I am happy, because if they can begin to talk about the ownership, they realised that it is a serious document that ownership becomes an issue. Nobody has said that it is a useless or worthless document. We decided to do something that is as simple as possible.
“One of the things that attracted me to politics was when I listened to the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1978, announcing the birth of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), and after that, articulating the four cardinal programmes of the party: free education, free health services, integrated rural development and employment for all.
“I immediately became a youth member of the UPN, because I was carried away by the manifesto, which was so easy to understand. But unfortunately, manifestos have become bulky documents which are difficult to read and understand.
“When I started thinking about running for governorship, after seeing the weaknesses in the system, and having held positions and knowing that so much can be done if we have the governor who is focused, sincere and who is passionate about this state, I decided that the starting point in the ambition was to put in writing what I needed to do.
“A lot of friends and experts sat with me to put the idea into reality, especially to know the real needs of our people.
“I am yet to kick off my campaign, but the few rallies that I have done, I noticed that members of the audience already knew the SIMPLE agenda, even before I talked about it. I am happy, because what excited me many years ago to join the defunct UPN is now being replicated.
“We are creating the consciousness that persons who want to run for various political offices must have manifestos. I was told that Governor Godwin Obaseki came up with what he called MEGA (Making Edo Great Again). Let him admit that in the past four years, he had no manifesto, because nobody knew about MEGA.
“He was groping in the dark and wasted the time of Edo people. In the next four years, he wants to make Edo great again, realising that nothing has been done by his administration. Edo people are not ready to take that risk.
“Obaseki came in four years ago as a technocrat. He was in the government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and promised continuity. Only when I started asking Obaseki of his agenda that he is planning to launch MEGA, after spending billions of Edo people’s money.
“What has Obaseki done in the past four years, other than making Edo useless?
“The SIMPLE agenda is a SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) document. You do not make promises without putting the time frame. This is a document of which we are time conscious. You do not start a project that you cannot complete.
“The tenure of a governor is four years. It is only if it is renewed at the election that he/she gets another four years. We are looking at what we can achieve in four years.”
The Edo governorship candidate of APC also decried the level of insecurity in the state, which he insisted had been driving away investors.
He said: “Investors cannot come to Edo State because of insecurity. Edo State has the resources to provide adequate security, but Obaseki is not taking security seriously.
‘Government must try to be transparent. In the previous administration, the security vote was N6 billion annually, but Obaseki came in as governor and he said the security vote was not enough and he increased it to N7.5 billion annually, thereby collecting over N600 million monthly.
“But he is giving Edo State Police Command just N5 million monthly, which is not enough to fuel and service the command’s patrol vehicles.
Two supporters of Ize-Iyamu shot
Two supporters of the APC candidate were allegedly shot by a thug at Igarra, Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of the state on Friday night.
Shot were Oguma Ojo and Friday Yaya.
The perpetrator was said to be a supporter of the PDP.
It was gathered that the suspect took to his heels after the shooting.
Sources said the representative of Akoko-Edo II in the Edo House of Assembly, Emma Agbaje, had addressed his supporters in the area, while pledging to support Ize-Iyamu.
The shot APC members, later on Friday night, were sitting and discussing with four other persons, when the suspected thug suddenly appeared and opened fire on them.
The victims were rushed to an undisclosed hospital for medical treatment and were still in critical condition.
The shooting was reported at Igarra police station, while no arrest had been made, at press time.
But a senior police officer, who spoke in confidence, stated that investigation into the incident was ongoing.
The mobile line of Edo Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chidi Nwabuzor, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), was not available for further reaction.
Ize-Iyamu receives blessings from Otaru of Auchi
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu yesterday received royal blessings from the Otaru of Auchi and Vice-Chairman of the Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alhaji Aliru Momoh Ikelebe III,
Ize-Iyamu, accompanied by his running mate Mallam Gani Audu and other leaders of the APC, was at the Otaru’s palace to pay the traditional ruler homage as part of the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations and officially deliver copies of his SIMPLE agenda manifesto.
The APC flag bearer said as one of the foremost Islamic traditional rulers in the country, the Otaru of Auchi holds an important position in Edo, which informed his visit to felicitate with him during Sallah and formally inform him of his governorship bid.
Ize-Iyamu praised the Otaru as a forward-thinking ruler with great love for his people.
He lamented the state government’s failure to take maximal advantage of the solid minerals deposited in Auchi and rising insecurity that scared away investments.
He assured the traditional ruler that as governor, he would tackle the challenge of security and the erosion problems of the Auchi Kingdom.
Receiving the candidate and his running mate, the traditional ruler commended him for the documentation of his promises in the SIMPLE agenda manifesto.
He advised him to keep his promises to the people if elected, stating that truth and justice are important values that leaders must display to bring peace and development.
He recounted some of the contributions of Ize-Iyamu’s running mate, Mallam Gani Audu, as Local Council Chairman and offered prayers and blessings for the candidate.
The Otaru was joined by other traditional rulers including HRH Alhaji Ali Suleiman, The Ogeagah of Three Ibies and prominent Islamic leaders such as the Sadiq of Auchi, Alhaji Saliu Ahmed, and Dr. Sani Jimoh, Chairman of the Muslim support group for the APC Campaign.
APC leaders on Ize-Iyamu’s entourage included Engr. Lawrence Okah, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, Hon. Lucky James, Olusola Oke (SAN), and former trade union leader, Comrade Peter Esele.