Tony Osauzo, Benin
The recent protest against Mallam Gani Audu, the running mate to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in his home town of Agbede in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, by some of his kinsmen, has pitched the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The protesters had allegedly taken to the streets against the emergence of Audu as running mate, claiming that he did not perform as chairman of Etsako West Local Government Council.
They claimed that Audu, one of the elected 14 lawmakers of the state House of Assembly yet be inaugurated, refused to offer himself for inauguration.
Reacting to the protest, the APC said Hon Mallam Gani Audu’s refusal to be sworn-in to an illegal assembly was a courageous move and resistance against an attempt to reduce the independent legislature to a mere extension of the office of a governor who considers himself above the law.
The Chairman of the party’s Media Campaign Council in the State, John Mayaki, said in a statement: ‘Hon Gani Audu’s people elected him to represent them in a sane, fair, and constitutional government, not one characterized by violence, illegal pronouncements, and high-handedness.
‘Moreover, as Deputy Governor to a leader with a clear mandate on how to move the state forward in a fair and all-inclusive government, Gani Audu is best primed to offer his people effective representation and deliver development.
‘The real people of Edo North know this and they are in full support of Hon Gani Audu.
‘The protest was staged. It is a continuation of the desperate propaganda of the PDP. They are not interested in campaigning based on issues because Obaseki has no plan or manifesto.
‘All they want to do is incite Edo people against each other and their own. Hon Gani Audu is with his people and they are with him.’
In its reply, the PDP in a statement issued by its State Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare, denied sponsoring the protest:
‘The people of Agbede in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, on Sunday, woke up to a protest against one of their sons who they had declared a persona non grata in their town, following his poor performance while serving as chairman of the local government area, and for denying them representation at the state House of Assembly after he was duly elected, but refused to present himself to be sworn into office.
‘Strangely, the All Progressives Congress (APC) woke up on the wrong side of the bed, days after the widely reported incident, to accuse the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of sponsoring the Agbede protest.
‘We wish to state that the PDP did not sponsor the protest. For emphasis, we don’t sponsor protests. The claim by APC that the protest was sponsored by our party, the PDP is a figment of their imagination.
‘It is established fact that Gani Audu performed woefully as local government chairman, amongst other allegations leveled against him by his kinsmen,therefore, the youths must be commended for the courage they displayed in expressing their discontent over Audu’s failings and betrayal of the trust reposed in him by his people who elected him to deliver the dividends of democracy.
‘The actions of the youths further gives insight into what awaits non-performing elected officials in the near future. Democracy must put food at the table of the people, fix weak infrastructure, provide quality education and improved health care amongst others, as Governor Godwin Obaseki has diligently done in the last three years and seven months.
‘Elected and unelected officials alike must brace up to provide purposive leadership and this should be addressed by the sinking APC in order to avert the treatment meted on Gani Audu in Agbede in future,’ the statement said.