Tony Osauzo, Benin
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the upcoming September 19 Edo State governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that investors cannot come to the State because of insecurity.
Speaking during an interactive session with journalists in Benin City at the weekend, where he explained his ‘SIMPLE’ campaign manifesto, Ize-Iyamu said that Edo has the resources to provide adequate security but that Governor Godwin Obaseki is not taking security seriously.
‘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,’ the APC candidate said.
‘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 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.’
The APC governorship candidate, pointing to the Obaseki administration’s shut down of the State Water Board, said that the administration, in its quest for more revenue, was about levying residents with boreholes, stating: ‘That is the height of wickedness.’
‘No responsible government acts like that. With the indiscriminate sinking of boreholes, you are distorting the ecosystem, while water from most boreholes is neither tested nor treated. The water sector is also zero, but it cannot continue like this.
‘When Obaseki was campaigning in 2016, he promised 200,000 jobs annually. Where are the jobs? What Obaseki now calls jobs for Edo people are the statistics of the people the administration trained for one week. Quite unfortunate that training, without start-up capital or starter packs, has now become employment in Edo State. That is deceit. I do not make promises that I cannot keep.
‘There are no teachers in the schools in Edo State. You will currently find one or two teachers in each of the schools in Edo, while parents and guardians regularly contribute money to engage young graduates as PTA teachers. Obaseki’s government has not employed a single teacher since 2016, while many teachers are retiring or quitting. Quite shameful,’ Ize-Iyamu said.
The candidate said the health sector in the State was in shambles, remarking that Obaseki had promised to transform primary health care and to have a befitting health centre in each of the 192 wards in the State, but that his administration has built less than 22 health centres in four years with lack of manpower in the health sector while the government has refused to employ anybody.
Ize-Iyamu said the State’s agricultural sector has been abandoned with nothing to show for the billions of naira loan the State government took from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
‘Obaseki’s government went to Central Bank of Nigeria and borrowed N5.6 billion to give to Edo farmers, but the real Edo farmers recently demonstrated in Abuja, without any Edo farmer benefiting from the loan, which is now being paid back to the CBN. So, agriculture is also zero. In which sector has the government excelled?
‘In sports, has Obaseki told you how much he used to renovate Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City? They cannot tell you, because it is embarrassing. A government must be accountable and transparent. Over N6 billion was spent to renovate Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, which is enough to build a brand new stadium. Capacity of Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium has not changed. The stadium can still not sit 15,000 people. They are ashamed to disclose the details. Obaseki is an emperor. If he thinks Edo people are stupid, we are not stupid.
‘Many of us who are vying for the governorship in Edo State are doing so because we are being taken for a ride. It can be a lot better.
‘Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has done his own. This is not about Comrade Oshiomhole. It is about what have you (Obaseki) done as the governor of Edo State? Obaseki has spent the last four years fighting imaginary enemies. This is a governor who earlier said his second term was non-negotiable. That means even God cannot speak about his second term. If his second term is not negotiable, why is he trying to campaign? Edo people will decide on September 19, who their next governor will be. All his MoUs (Memoranda of Understanding), what have they translated into?
‘The Industrial Park, they did the groundbreaking with fanfare, the Chinese collected N3.3 billion, but the site is now abandoned. The Gelegele Seaport, with fanfare, but nothing is happening there. The billions of naira for the projects have been stolen.
‘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 the government can do a lot more. There is so much that can come out of government if only the chief executive is sincere,’ Ize-Iyamu said.
The candidate thereafter reached out to the media, saying their reports can motivate investors to move into Edo State, with the words: ‘Please, join us to change the narrative and the situation.’