Security was tight on Saturday in Benin metropolis, as the two dominant political parties ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held rallies. The rallies that took place at different locations within the capital paralysed social and economic activities because of a heavy traffic gridlock on the major roads.
While PDP held its rally at an open ground at Urokpota Hall, close to the Kings Square, Ring Road, APC held its own at the Ekheuan Campus of the University of Benin.
In a related development the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Ize-Iyamu has distanced himself and his party from the Apana community shooting in Etsako West LGA, accusing Governor Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of being the masterminds.
At a press conference yesterday he accused the governor of instigating violence against his supporters.
There was a heavy presence of security personnel at the two venues, which were about four kilometres apart. Security personnel, with an Armoured Personnel Carrier, were deployed to the venues as early as 8am
The PDP rally was preceded by a carnival-like march, organised by Edo Voters Volunteers Assembly (EVVA), a grassroots voter mobilisation body made up of youths and women from the 12 wards in Oredo Local Government Area of the state.
Addressing the rally, Governor Godwin Obaseki, who is also the PDP candidate in the poll, vowed to deal ruthlessly with political thugs who engaged in risky behaviour or undermined law and order in any part of the state. Obaseki urged residents of the state to call some dedicated phone lines whenever they were in distress ahead of the governorship election.
“Do not be afraid, we are more than them,” he stated, apparently, referring to the opposition APC in the state. “They cannot overpower us. We will tell them that Edo is not a lawless state,” the governor added.
Obaseki said the ward-to-ward campaign embarked upon by his party was designed to assess the needs of Edo people at the community level, in order to bring to them projects with greater impact on their lives.
However, APC, which had before yesterday been holding rallies in Oredo Local Government Area in continuation of its unit-to-unit campaign across the 18 local government areas, described the four-year administration of Obaseki as an “abysmal failure”. The party urged the electorate to vote it in, and vote out PPDP.
A former chairman of Oredo local government, Osaro Obazee, who received the APC campaign train, said, “Having failed to perform, we in Oredo have decided to give Obaseki the read card.”
The APC governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, accused Obaseki of reducing Edo South from majority to minority by inaugurating only three of the 10 lawmakers that should represent the seven local governments in the zone in the House of Assembly.
Ize-Iyamu said, “The man who says he is from Oredo refused to inaugurate the two members elected in his local government area. What he did was a conspiracy against Edo South. Can we give somebody who reduced Edo South from majority to minority a second term? What he did was a conspiracy against Edo South. He has sinned against Edo youths.”
While explaining his SIMPLE agenda, the APC candidate accused the PDP administration of failing to empower Edo people. He said the governor brought in people from outside the state to do all kinds of jobs. He also accused Obaseki of failing to judiciously spend the huge security votes he collected monthly.
Speaking at the rally also, the former national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said, “When you have a good product, you don’t need too much advertisement to sell it. Ize-Iyamu is a good product. Four years ago, I did all the talking because it was a hard product to sell. They say I want to be a godfather, if I want to be a godfather, I should be a godfather to a good child.”