With just one week to the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, the Publicity Secretary of the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chris Nehikhare, spoke with OJIEVA EHIOSUN on the efforts of Governor Godwin Obaseki to win the poll. Excerpts…
The election in Edo State is a few days away, how is the campaign going?
There is no secret to the success. What is happening is in recognition of the job Governor Godwin Obaseki has done for the people of Edo, the way he has set his card, the way he planned, implemented and executed every detail. That is what has led to the campaign successes. If you take a critical look into his system of operation, you would see that, in the last one year or so, civil servants and pensioners no longer go to the streets to protest nonpayment of their salaries and pensions. Their money is paid even before 25th of every month. Apart from that, the governor also had a reform in the judiciary. You can see the befitting quarters he has put up for the judges in Edo State, also the High Court building renovated with accessible roads and equipped with modern communication system. He is making them work in a highly conducive environment. Again if you go to the primary schools, you will see what this governor has done, setting a programme called ‘Edo Best’ where teachers are being taught how to use the modern technology to teach our children. Other states are coming to learn from Edo State in this sector. In fact, this governor has done marvelously well in all facets of human development within the first four years of his administration.
What is the essence of the peace deal at the Oba’s palace?
Actually, we commend the Oba for his timely intervention. Yes we are very happy with the peace accord. It was a welcome development and a step taking at the nick of time. Before now, the pre- election violence in Edo State was very serious. People were no longer comfortable doing their normal businesses for fear of being attacked by political thugs. It was getting to a time that things needed to be done and the Oba, living up to his name called everybody together. In the past one week there been no reported has cases of violence across the state, so we appreciate it and we commend His Royal Majesty for doing it at the right time.
PDP seems too confident. Are you underrating the APC despite federal might?
I think in every party, the leadership has the right to speak on what they want to happen and how they want the election to happen in the state where they are contesting. The President of this country will not get involved in trying to go against the will of the people. We have confidence that the President will not go against the wish and the will of the people. The President has the right to tell his people to rally round the candidate of his political party, it is not peculiar to Edo State, it is something that goes round the world. Any particular p a r t y w i l l l i k e to encour-age its candidate to win election. Our President will not bring the military to invade Edo State. He will leave them to work for their victory.
What is your take on the accusation of vote-buying during the election?
I would like to say that PDP has never been involved in vote-buying, we don’t have the kind of money to buy votes. Our party doesn’t even need to buy votes before winning the election, we count on the integrity and capability of our candidate, he has done well and that is why Edo people are working hard to have him re-elected for a second term. You will recall that in the last election, PDP won two senatorial seats out of the three, even when we were not in power. But I tell you that the few members left in the APC in Edo State are going to work for Obaseki. As it is now, PDP is 75 per cent ahead of APC and we are very sure of overwhelming victory at the polls.
Are you expecting free, fair and credible election?
What we are saying is, let INEC conduct free, fair and credible poll. This election is going to be very significant in the political history of Edo State because it is going to determine a lot of things. It is the election that will put an end to the political dynasty of APC in Edo State, it is the election that will end godfatherism, it is also the election that will make or break those who think they have Edo State in their pockets. Our victory against APC is going to be knockout, something that has never been seen in the political history of Edo State.