Benin State — Emerging signs of uncertainty are clouding the September 19 governorship election in Edo State as the crisis between the two major political parties in the race, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), deepens.
Governors elected on the platform of the PDP said the crisis had shown the alleged height of political brigandage and desperation by the APC to win the election by force.
The PDP Governors' Forum in a statement yesterday through its Director-General, CID Maduabum, urged the people of Edo State to remain vigilant but peaceful in resisting any attempt to desecrate democracy and constitutionalism in the state.
"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 takeover 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 authority to unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional acts of a desperate gang of power mongers," the governors said.
But the APC in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, blamed the PDP for the crisis and called on all "parties and their proxies" to ensure peace and adherence to the rule of law in all their actions.
"The activities of the Edo State government on the state House of Assembly are brazen assaults on our constitution and the rule of law.
"Amid the leadership crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly, the sudden renovation of the state's legislative complex purportedly by the state government takes us back to the backward days of PDP administrations which normalised the desecration of other arms of governments to achieve political ends.
"Nigerians will also recall how the PDP introduced the repugnant '16 is greater than 19' political formula.
"The governorship election in Edo State is forthcoming. The electorate must be allowed to cast their votes peacefully and not under threats of violence by the PDP and the state government," the APC said.
Avoid Rivers, Zamfara experiences - Buhari
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has charged APC leaders to avoid the pitfalls that affected the party's victory in Rivers, Zamfara and Bayelsa states in the 2019 elections in Edo State.
Buhari gave the charge yesterday in Abuja while receiving the APC governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at the State House.
The president received Pastor Ize-Iyamu alongside the Caretaker Committee chairman of the APC and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and APC campaign chairman for the Edo State election and Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
Buhari said 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.
He urged party leaders and campaign teams to do all necessary following legal and constitutional means to win the election.
The president also implored party leaders at the national and state levels to follow the electoral process in an open and transparent manner.
"What I want is a transparent process so that the confidence of the people will be strengthened," he said.
Buhari, who congratulated Pastor Ize-Iyamu on his emergence as the party's candidate in Edo State, assured him of full support.
The chairman of the Caretaker Committee who presented the candidate, told the president: "Pastor Ize- Iyamu is a seasoned grassroots politician who is loved by his people".
Buni said the president's blessings on the candidate further validated the party's confidence.
The chairman of the APC Edo State gubernatorial campaign, Governor Ganduje, said in line with the principles of the party the APC would lead a clean campaign devoid of acrimony, hatred and violence.
He 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 members.
While speaking with State House reporters, he said the party's candidate was facing an incumbent governor who had not only failed but remained a liability to the PDP.
Ganduje said: "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. It could have been a big problem if the governor performed well while governing his state. He could have been an asset to PDP. But I assure you that governor is a liability. In fact, it's even better for us that we are contesting with a serving governor who failed woefully. He failed woefully in the area of human development.
In his response, Pastor Ize-Iyamu assured the president of his commitment to ensure good governance in the state if elected.
Ize-Iyamu, who recalled that he served as deputy chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee of the APC at its formation, said he was glad to return to the APC and described 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.
Bickering over 'plot' to secure extra result sheets
The PDP National Campaign Council for the election has claimed that it uncovered plots by the APC and its sacked national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to procure extra result sheets to rig the poll.
The Secretary, Publicity Sub-Committee of the PDP campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, made the allegation at a press conference yesterday in Abuja.
But the APC said the procurement of result sheets, cloning of PVCs, stealing card readers, vote buying, voter intimidation and other election fraud was the PDP's stock-in-trade.
The PDP alleged that Oshiomhole and other APC leaders had been mounting pressure on chairman of INEC, Yakubu Mahmood and other officials of the commission to secretly provide them ballot papers and form EC8 election results sheet to facilitate their plans for ballot stuffing and writing of election results.
APC govs backing Ize-Iyamu - Bagudu
The chairman of the Progressive Governors' Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, said all APC governors were working to ensure victory for the party at the September 19, 2020 governorship elections.
Bagudu, who said it was "laughable" for anyone to suggest that the party's governors were not backing Pastor Ize-Iyamu, stressed that they were not only part of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting that endorsed his candidacy but were also involved in the formation of the campaign team.
He said they offered similar support to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in 2016 when he presented Governor Godwin Obaseki as the party's candidate.
Buhari's meeting with Ize-Iyamu dent on anti-graft war - Edo PDP
The Edo State chapter of the PDP yesterday described President Buhari's meeting with the governorship candidate of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, as a dent on his image and the anti-corruption fight.
A statement signed by the state publicity secretary of the party, Chris Osa Nehikhare, said the president was ill advised to met with Ize-Iyamu.
"The meeting was ill-advised and a dent on the image of President Buhari, whose administration is known for the spirited fight against corruption, which has encumbered the development of our dear country for decades."
APC may lose Edo - PGF
The Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Muhammed Lukman, yesterday expressed fears that the APC may lose the September 19 governorship election in Edo State if it does not change its style and mode of campaign.
Lukman in an 8-page statement titled, "Progressive politics-which way APC?" described the APC campaign as a one-man show.
He said the APC campaign was getting weaker by the day while that of the PDP was getting stronger, expressing fears that if the APC does not improve on its mode and style of campaign the PDP would retain power in the state.
He argued that the former governor of Edo State and former national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole's "take over" of the campaign was perilous to the party's chances of winning.
He asked Oshiomhole to take the back seat, adding that once a candidate emerged, all party members had the responsibility of campaigning vigorously for his victory at the poll.
"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 suggests that the Edo state governorship election is an extension of the personal battle between the Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole.
"The APC campaign personalised around Comrade Oshiomhole and the candidate of the party, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, is an onlooker. The sound bite from the Edo APC campaign is so offensive to the point where Comrade Oshiomhole appears to be disowning almost every APC member in Edo state between 2016 and now.
"To that extent, it simply means Oshiomhole is disowning himself, which may be why he went on his knees begging Edo people for forgiveness. We need to appeal to Comrade Oshiomhole to 'calm down.'
"This campaign is not about his person. More importantly, we need to stress the point that part of the political vision of any progressive is that once elected into government, we commit ourselves to issues of agricultural development, jobs creation, education, health, infrastructural development, poverty eradication and rapid technological development."