Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
When the people of Edo State go to the poll on September 19 to elect their governor for the next four years, they will be confronted by two main choices- Governor Godwin Obaseki’s consolidation agenda encapsulated in his Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) philosophy and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s SIMPLE agenda.
There are a total of 14 gubernatorial candidates participating in the governorship poll but analysts say the contest is largely a straight fight between Governor Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Incidentally, both men had squared up against each other in the 2016 gubernatorial election in the state, which Obaseki contested on the platform of the APC, while Ize-Iyamu was the candidate of the opposition party in that contest.
Four years later, the two leading contenders for the Dennis Osadebe Avenue in next month’s gubernatorial poll has switched parties. Therefore, for the voters, the major consideration in the election may not necessarily be about the political platforms of the gubernatorial contender.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a total of 2,210,534 registered voters would decide the next governor of the South South state in next month’s contest.
Analysts say in this year’s contest, the Edo electorate will be looking at the manifestos of the two candidates and their antecedents, including their ability to deliver on their promises to decide who will govern them from November 12, this year.
The gladiators understand this and as such are not leaving anything to chance in their quest to market their programmes to the electorate. In the last few weeks, Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu, as well as their supporters have been on the campaign trail marketing themselves to the electorate through their various manifestos.
According to the PDP candidate, his MEGA agenda is anchored on a 12 point action plan, which entails key developmental programmes in education, health care, critical infrastructure, agriculture and natural resources, peace and security, environment, public service, public finance and public revenue, art and culture, legal reforms, chieftaincy and religious Affairs, Transport, women, children, youth and sports.
Obaseki stated that his MEGA agenda is geared towards consolidating on the performance of his administration since November 2016. The Edo governor during his first term campaign had identified six thematic areas to guide the activities of his government. These included economic Revolution, Infrastructural development, Institutional Reforms, Social Welfare Enhancement Environmental Sustainability, and Arts, Culture and Tourism.
He noted that his administration has recorded landmark achievements in virtually every sector in the state, albeit without fanfare, thereby earning him the sobriquet as “wake and see “ governor.
The governor stated: “on industry and infrastructure (roads, schools, hospitals, housing), our mission was to extend roads, address flooding and evolve efficient traffic management solutions. We have completed over 800 roads, which stretch for about 2,000km, with at least a road project in each of the 192 wards in the state. The Ministry of Infrastructure has constructed about 400 roads, while the Edo State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR) PLUS and other partners have constructed 400 roads. “
Obaseki in his policy document for the 2020 campaigns noted: “ I am confident that my re-election for a second-term as the Executive Governor of Edo State from 2020 to 2024 will consolidate the transformation of the state through policies, projects and initiatives aimed at making Edo State an investment hub. This policy document is my present declaration to consolidate the foundation of my first term as governor from 2016 to 2020 in providing leadership and vision for engagement and consensus building in planning, executing and evaluating state development initiatives and their outcomes.
On the flipside, the APC candidate says his Simple Agenda is the tonic needed to turn the state around. The SIMPLE Agenda is an acronym for Security, Infrastructural development, Manpower development, Public Private Partnership, Leadership and Employment creation.
The governorship hopeful described his agenda for the state as a ‘SMART’ document, saying, “by this, I mean it is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and of course, Time-bound.”
For Ize-Iyamu, the thrust of his manifesto is to create employment in every sector of the state. According to him, if elected governor, his administration will create 70,500 jobs in four years in the areas of education, agriculture and rural development, housing, fire service, waste management system, and industrialisation, among others.
He stated: “For the public-private partnership industrial schemes in each of the senatorial districts, it is reckoned that each of the clusters should be capable of accommodating up to 10 separate industrial firms and would give direct employment opportunities to well over 3,000 persons and another 5,000 persons indirectly, providing the raw materials, goods and services across the state.
A former governorship aspirant on the platform of the ruling party, Peter Esele believes that Ize-Iyamu’s SIMPLE agenda is the antidote the state needs..
“To solve societal problems, you must come around to look at things the way they ought to be. This is because the fabric of the society is built on simple things of life,” Esele, who is also a former President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) reportedly stated recently.
Nevertheless, a former commissioner for information in the state, Charles Idahosa, told Daily Sun recently that Obaseki’s performance in the last four years gives him an edge in the contest.
Idahosa, who was also a special Adviser on political matters to former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, said while Obaseki’ s ideas have been tested and are aimed at consolidating on his achievements in the past four years, the same cannot be said of his challenger in the APC.
According to him, “The governor has performed excellently well and I believe that his performance will give him an edge over his opponents. Also, he has defeated his major opponent before and he is poised to do so again. Then Obaseki won the 2016 election with 319,483 votes while Ize-Iyamu had 253,173 votes. That is a difference of over 66,000 votes. In terms of percentage, Obaseki scored 52 percent of the vote to Ize-Iyamu’s 41 percent.
“So, if he can do that in 2016 when he was just coming onboard, what do you think will happen four years after when he has been tested and the people of the state are clamouring for him to return for another term?”
The question therefore is who will win this battle of manifestos? Obaseki or Ize-Iyamu? The people of Edo State will provide the answer on September 19.