The political campaigns ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State is gaining momentum with candidates and parties in full gear to seek for support from individuals and groups. CAJETAN MMUTA takes a look at the pledge by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to redefine Edo with his SIMPLE Agenda if elected
On September 19 this year, Edo people will file out in what is seen as another historic event. They are, once again, expected to choose who among the governorship candidates who have met their choices to earn their votes to occupy the prestigious number one seat at the Dennis Osadebay Avenue Government House in Benin City, the Edo state capital.
As expected, the various candidates and political parties are presently involved in campaigns laced with messages of hope and expectations from about their vision, mission and programmes that are anchored on measures towards improving the wellbeing of people of the state.
There is no doubt that the Heart Beat State in the oil rich South-South geo political zone of the nation is strategic in almost every sphere given its pride of place and rich land mass, cultural background and huge mineral deposits.
Consequently, little wonder the battle among several gladiators to occupy the state’s exalted number one seat. However, how best the candidates market their respective programmes will no doubt, pave the way for them at the polls on election day.
At the moment, there is a cacophony of drums of supports, pledges and assurances from individuals and groups to boost the ego and drive of the participating candidates and their political parties ahead of the epic battle. It is also not out of place to state that huge sums of money are being frittered away to wet the appetite of these support groups. Besides, there is uncontrollable competition for spaces between party campaign posters and billboards of eye-catching colours, sizes and designs, announcing the ambitions of various candidates.
Expectedly, as the contestants prepare to slug it out for votes in the 192 wards, 18 local government areas and three senatorial districts of the state, all eyes are on candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki and his major challenger, Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Obaseki is seeking for a reelection for another four years in office, while Ize-Iyamu is poised to make history after his 2016 outing. The puzzle now on the lips of many is who among the two gets the nod at the end? The answer to this question is what has kept the two actors, out of 14 candidates of the entire participating political parties, on their toes and as they make overtures to win the support of Edo people, who seem determined to make desired changes possible again. Both Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu have different things going for them given what they represent in the eyes of their supporters and camps.
This goes to explain the strenuous state wide consultations with mapped out strategies aimed at swaying the over 3.2 million electorate in their favour. For Ize-Iyamu, he has a date with history, so the battle of September 19 will not be a child’s play because once beaten twice shy. He is all out to make a difference as a grassroots man and homeboy of Edo politics. Against this backdrop, the titanic battle for the soul of Edo State is one that has defined itself. The Iguododo born politician from Orhiomwon council area of the state had during a recent media parley at his residence in Benin City rolled out his ‘SIMPLE’ Agenda, which he described as a manifesto of hope, a smart, specific, measurable, accurate, reliable and time-bound document he articulated and believes will endear him to the hearts of Edo people as history beckons on him.
The APC candidate added that he has chosen not to be distracted or blackmailed this time unlike in 2016, and is therefore determined to exploit quality time available to him to change the narrative and to also rewrite the history of the state. To him, governance is about service to the people, noting that he intends to focus attention for serious implementation of the Simple Agenda key issues, bothering on security, Infrastructure, manpower and training, private partnership; leadership by example, employment and social empowerment.
He maintained that the book of covenant or agenda for the state and its people is rich, clear and encompassing in its ramifications. According to him, “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 or she gets another four years. We are looking at what we can achieve in four years.”
He, therefore, assured his teeming supporters that the covenant and promises to put the state on the right frame are embedded in his SIMPLE Agenda. “I have no intention, like many people, to leave Edo State after serving the people as governor. This is the place where I was born, this is where I will die at old age by God’s grace and this is where I will be buried. The only motivation for vying for Edo governorship is to make a difference and to do something that will make Edo people realise that government can do a lot more.
There is so much that can come out of government, if only the chief executive is sincere.” He further said: “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 fourcardinal 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 a 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. “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, realizing that nothing has been done by his administration. Edo people are not ready to take that risk.” Ize-Iyamu, who is a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of Nigeria, explained that investors cannot come to Edo State because of insecurity. According to him, the state has the resources to provide adequate security, but he blamed Obaseki for not taking security serious. His words: “Government must try to be transparent. In the previous ad-ministration, 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. “In the whole of the South-South zone, Edo is the only state that has not invested in technology to fight crime.
When kidnapping became so rampant, other states in the South-South zone bought trackers, making it difficult for kidnappers to operate. Obaseki’s security vote can buy trackers, but he is paying lip service to the issue of security. Security is the key to development, but security in Edo State is currently zero. By the grace of God, after November 12, 2020, Edo people will see a difference through me.” Indeed, Ize-Iyamu’s persistence and quest to contest as well as the massive support to his ambition by forces within the APC is what is making the political frontiers to quake and in the process giving the PDP and the government of the day sleepless nights.
This is obvious given the apparent political realignment and general believe that the APC might deploy the federal might to achieve its aim of overturning the table in Edo. Already, it is tension as the APC and PDP are all out for a showdown hence the brickbats in the past two weeks shortly after both sides inaugurated their campaign councils for the governorship poll. The political actors, support groups and party members are not allowing anything to chance this time as the election is just about a month away.