John Oyegun, a former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has refused to endorse Osagie Ize-Iyamu, his party’s candidate in the Edo governorship election.
In a statement he issued on Monday, Oyegun rejected what he described as “primitive politics”, calling on the people of Edo to vote their conscience.
He criticised the “forced exit” of Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo, from the APC, saying the governor suffered “unacceptable indignity” while standing for the people.
“My views and statements on the Edo state political situation have been consistent. I strongly advised against the mistreatment of Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki by the late unlamented National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC. Governor Obaseki stood bravely for the dignity and pride of his people and in the process suffered unacceptable indignities,” the statement read.
“In the matter of who governs Edo State, the people are sovereign and no individual or group of people, whatever their status, can decide on their behalf.
“I stand with the people of Edo State and urge them to to come out massively to exercise their democratic rights. They should vote for good governance, common decency, principled leadership, especially in the political arena and the protection of their democratic rights.
“They should by their votes make clear that it is their right to choose their governor and nobody else’s. There is no room for fence sitters. This is a special situation and primitive loyalties should and must be set aside. Remember Mr President’s admonition in an equally challenging pre-election situation in Imo State, “vote your conscience.”
Recall the live debate for the election where the two leading aggressively ripped into each other as they expressed strong disagreements over approaches to governance and records.
Viewers who tuned in for the two-hour debate between Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC and Governor Godwin Obaseki of the PDP witnessed first hand the disagreements and issues that have seen the state witnessed one of the most controversial campaigns in recent years.
Both candidates, disagreed on virtually every issue – job creation, debt profile, governance, qualification, and the facts that they built their plans on.
Beyond a handshake at the start of the debate, they would only agree on the need for community policing and the importance of a refinery project; the latter still sparked some disagreement.
The debate kicked off with opening statements.
Ize-Iyamu said, based on his experience and agenda, he would be a square peg in a square hole. “I have a clear cut agenda and we know what to do,” he said.
In his opening statement, Obaseki said his administration had made remarkable and fundamental changes in how Edo state is governed. “Our achievements are so numerous,” he said.
Ize-Iyamu quickly went on the offensive, accusing Obaseki of creating bogus jobs in the state. “In the past one month, he has appointed over 2,000 people as SSA and social media and the rest of them; those are not jobs.”
In his defence, Obaseki said jobs created by his administration – about 157,000 – were verifiable via third-party sources such as the National Bureau of Statistics. He also noted that the government’s role was not to directly create jobs but to leverage and create an enabling environment for the private sector.
Ize-Iyamu said his government will abolish multiple taxations in Edo state. “I heard them say they have abolished Agberos, but I can name so many who are still in the employment of the Edo state government,” he said. He also advocated for the widening of the tax net. “I do not believe, because we are looking for money, we should maintain a very high tax level.”
He said the Obaseki administration hasn’t done anything new to improve tax administration. “All they have tried to do is to increase taxation, or because of election, relax on it.”
On tax, Obaseki said his administration only collects tax from people who have earnings. He also claimed to have widened the tax net by bringing more people into the formal sector. He insisted that his administration had deployed technology to eliminate the use of cash collection and reduce corruption in the process. “I will not allow lions and tigers to collect taxes in Edo state,” he said.
Edo state is an oil-producing state and Obaseki said his administration has worked to set up a modular refinery in the state.
“The refinery is 90 percent read and in the next few months, it will be ready and commissioned and people will see oil being produced in Edo state,” Obaseki said.
However, Ize-Iyamu said the modular refinery was an APC idea and lampooned Obaseki for not investing enough in its success.
“I know that the initial capital is $10million,” he said. “It will interest Edo people to know that our investment is just N700 million, which is less than one percent of the share in that company. That, to me, does not show seriousness.”
Obaseki defended his administration’s record on debt by saying his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, borrowed recklessly.
The federal government, he said, had to restructure the state’s debts.
“What people don’t even know is that there were unpaid debts to contractors, to the extent of another N60 to N70 billion,” he said.