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, widely believed to be leading candidates for the September 19 election, 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.
In his response, however, Ize-Iyamu faulted Obaseki’s criticism of the Oshiomhole administration.
“Sometimes you seem to forget the role you played in the past government,” he said.
Obaseki served the Oshiomhole administration as an economic adviser.
Ize-Iyamu further went on to accuse the Obaseki administration of financial misappropriation. He said about N75 billion has been collected and “shared to cronies.”
Bloated Civil Service?
Obaseki said the Edo State civil service was not bloated, but aged.
“We need to bring more people, smarter people into government,” he said.
He accused Ize-Iyamu, during his time as Secretary to the Edo State Government, of sacking the Crème de la crème of the civil service.
“Currently, we are restructuring the civil service,” he said.
Ize-Iyamu refuted Obaseki’s claim that he sacked the best of the civil service by mocking his fellow contestant for not being able to re-train civil servants. “I left office 13 years ago,” he said. “For eight years, you served under a government and you are telling us that you did no training. That lamentation is scandalous.”
He added that Obaseki’s model for the civil service was not working.
“The model the Governor has tried to adopt is to reduce the workforce to the barest minimum, but unfortunately, whatever savings he thinks he is making is not being seen in capital projects,” he said.
Ize-Iyamu accused Obaseki of under-investment in security.
He claimed Obaseki has not invested in tracking technology and drones.
“When you invest in security, the issue of cultism, thuggery, violence, you can tackle them,” he said.
In his response, Obaseki said his administration has rethought security and created a new security architecture for the state.
He also informed the audience that his administration actually has invested in trackers.
“These are security matters,” he said, “so I am not going to sit here and tell you how much we have invested in security.”
One of the issues both candidates agreed on was community policing.
Ize-Iyamu said the concept is not bad, but grey areas must be sorted with the federal government.
“I believe that state police is required,” Obaseki said.
Under Nigeria’s constitution, security is on the exclusive list.
Ize-Iyamu said it was regrettable that Edo state is being stigmatised on the issue of human trafficking.
“We don’t want our state to be stigmatised,” he said.
He said it was imperative to make the state economically viable to discourage people from leaving.
Obaseki said he was proud of what his administration has done to reduce human trafficking in the state and criticised past governments for downplaying the issue.
“We were in denial,” he said. “Government was pretending it didn’t exist because people were benefiting from the trade.”
Ize-Iyamu advocated for a shift to e-learning.
“We need to resort to technology,” he said. “We also need to train our teachers.”
He said the Obaseki administration was trying to train a teacher for N1.5 million.
“And the Governor said they have trained 11,000 teachers; that means they have spent over N16 billion on just training teachers. But this training, how has it impacted our children?”
Responding to Ize-Iyamu, Obaseki said he wished he had the kind of money (N16 billion) being bandied. “We would do wonders,” he said.
He said his administration has transformed basic education in Edo state, through EdoBest, “to the applaud of the whole world.”
Obaseki said Edobest was about using technology to facilitate education; the system, he said, has come in handy through the pandemic.
Ize-Iyamu faulted Obaseki’s record on healthcare in terms of personnel compensation and recruitment, and infrasttructure.
“There are some things you can’t cut corners with,” he said. “Today if you do an audit of the entire doctors in Edo State Health Management Board, they are less than 200. We need to employ health personnel.”
Responding, Obaseki said his administration is rethinking healthcare.
“We should not think of healthcare as hospitals, but as a system,” he said.
He also said his administration has introduced the Edo State Health Insurance scheme. “Once people can put something aside for their health care, then it becomes easy to pay for care and get investments into the health care system.”
Obaseki lauded his administration’s efforts in agriculture.
He argued that they’ve helped farmers de-risk farming by providing support with fertilisers, new seedlings, and off-take.
“The sort of yield we are getting from maize, rice, has been impressive,” he said.
In a riposte, Ize-Iyamu said the Obaseki administration has failed to position the state for agriculture excellence.
“As of today, what do you know Edo for?” he asked. “There are some states you say rice, some you say cocoa, but what do you know Edo for? Nothing.”
He said his administration will invest in small-scale and commercial farming. “We believe that farming is the right way to go,” he said.
Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu contested in the 2016 Governorship election in the state.
In 2020, both have switched political allegiances, with Obaseki moving from the APC to the PDP after Ize-Iyamu switched sides.
Describing why he left the APC to join the PDP, Obaseki said it was a decision he made with the support of his base after he was disqualified from the APC primaries.
He thanked the PDP leadership for admitting him into the party and giving him a platform to contest for a second term.
On his part, Ize-Iyamu said he was one of the founding fathers of the APC and only left because of certain issues.
“I am going to a place that I built,” he said. “It’s a homecoming.”
Obaseki was disqualified from the APC primaries based on controversies around the authenticity of his University certificate obtained from the University of Ibadan.
On Sunday, he defended his school credentials by re-stating that he attended the university.
The University had confirmed he graduated.
“It’s a very sad testimony that in a country like Nigeria, you find people who do not have the qualifications, have the effrontery to challenge the qualifications of those who went to proper schools,” he said.
Allegations of cultism and violence during his time at the University of Benin have previously been leveled against Ize-Iyamu.
On Sunday, he waved off the allegations.
“I graduated from the University of Benin. I was very active in the Students Union. And my records are clear. People have alleged that ‘oh, when you were in school, you did that’.
“But I think they should go to school authorities and find out exactly what was the offence. I am proud to say that throughout my stay, I had no criminal matter.”
Ize-Iyamu went on to allege that Obaseki failed his O-Levels and has not been able to present an A-Levels certificate.
The Oshiomhole Affair
Oshiomhole, undoubtedly a major factor in the election, came up at the tail-end of the debate.
Asked to describe their relationship with the former Governor, Obaseki said he was one of those who helped Oshiomhole win his election as Governor.
“I supported him,” Obaseki said. “I put together the plan for his administration and for eight years I worked pro-bono to make sure he succeeded.”
However, he said Oshiomhole had his own agenda when he (Obaseki) became Governor.
“He had his own personal agenda and thought that I would be so subservient, and he didn’t realise I would have been as independent as I have become,” he added.
But Ize-Iyamu said he was shocked at Obaseki’s claim.
“When I heard the claim that he raised money (for Oshiomhole), I laughed,” he said.
The debate ended with both candidates getting the opportunity to ask each other a question.
Ize-Iyamu questioned Obaseki over one of his agriculture projects in Sobe, Edo state, for which he had apparently borrowed N2 billion. “That money, has it been plowed back to that project? Is that money back to the state coffers? Or has the project failed?” Ize Iyamu queried.
Obaseki denied that N2 billion was spent on the project and said it was still ongoing.
For his own question, Obaseki asked Ize-Iyamu how he hoped to fund his SIMPLE agenda, in light of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The waste you waste money is not the way I waste money,” Ize-Iyamu replied. “I’m very prudent in financial management.”
Bandits Lay Siege To Armed Forces Command And Staff College, Jaji
Some criminals, suspected to be bandits, are currently laying siege around the premises of Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) located in Jaji, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Their mission, according to some locals in the community who spoke to our correspondent during a telephone conversation, was to abduct some staff of the college and the communities around the area.
This is coming in less than two months after bandits stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Mando, also in Kaduna and kidnapped no fewer than 39 students.
AFCSC is a training facility for the Nigerian Armed Forces, including the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Navy.
A resident of the area, who simply identified himself as Adamu, told Daily Trust via telephone that the bandits have always surrounded the institution while terrorising the communities around the college.
“It is only Allah that has been saving us. They (bandits) have always rustled cows in our communities. Military operatives do engage them in gun battle anytime they come around, that is why we don’t have major casualties yet,” Adamu said.
The Commandant of the college, Air Marshal Olayinka Alade, confirmed this on Wednesday in Abuja when he visited the Army Headquarters to brief Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, on the development and other issues in the institution.
Alade said the institution has decided to launch impromptu searching and clearance operations in some communities where the bandits are operating around the college having informed General Officer Commanding 1 Division.
“There are some communities around the school that have developed and because it is like part of the college, maybe they are hiding under that cover, so some bandits are there. Because of that, there is collaboration with other institution’s heads in the college. Constantly, we try to conduct an impromptu searching. We conduct search and patrol from time to time.
“What we discovered now is that, not too far ahead, some communities… it is like all these bandits have made all that place their aim, so I discussed with GOC 1 Div. From time to time, we need to carry out clearance operations,” the AFCSC Commandant said.
The Commandant further disclosed that the bandits rustled some cows behind the college on Tuesday, April 13 – a development that led to gun duel between them and the military operatives.
He, however, did not disclose whether there was any casualty, noting that he came to brief the COAS so as not to be surprised if he hears anything subsequently.
According to him, “In fact, yesterday (Tuesday), I was told that some bandits came to come and rustle some cows just behind us. There was an exercise that was carried out by the NACI. They actually encountered these bandits, they had to exchange fire during the exercise.
“Those are the things we’re trying to ensure that we are not surprised if they have come that close, then, we need to sit tight and ensure we clear that place.”
$1bn Arms Procurement: Clear Your Name Now, Coalition Charges Defence Minister
The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) has called on the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, to clear his name from the controversial purchase of security equipment.
The group noted that Magashi must explain how his ministry expended the $1billion approved by the Federal Government in April 2018.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, national coordinator, Timothy Charles, described the minister’s silence as “unholy” and an “embarrassment” to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Charles said the group is alarmed that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim is carrying out acts to shield the minister.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice, therefore, advised the COAS to be bold enough to stand by the truth instead of being clever by half and attempting to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.
The group also urged all well-meaning Nigerians to demand that the minister comes out clear by providing facts and details on arms procurement under his watch.
While absorbing the former service chiefs of any involvement, the Coalition for Truth and Justice added that Magashi must come clean for Nigerians to take the FG more seriously in its quest to address the security challenges in the country.
Read the full statement below:
The Coalition for Truth and Justice, a non-governmental organization in Nigeria dedicated to the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in governance in Nigeria, welcomes you all to this important press conference that is intended to address some of the pertinent issues that have surrounded the $1 billion released for the purchase of arms in the prosecution of the war against terrorism and other acts of criminalities across the country.
We must agree that these issues are of great importance to the well-being of the country at large, given the country’s security challenges in recent times as well as the government’s efforts in addressing these challenges.
It is common knowledge that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had in April 2018 approved the release of $1 billion to Nigerian Defence authorities for the purchase of security equipment to fight insecurity in the country under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.
Thus, it is pertinent to state that since the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, arms purchases have been domiciled with the Ministry of Defence and not individual services as erroneously projected in the public space.
It is also succinct to state that the Honorable Minister of Defence, who is in charge of the Ministry of Defence, should provide answers to questions surrounding arms purchase in the country. It is thus despicable that there has been some well-orchestrated attempt by some vested interest to divert attention from the Minister of Defence.
We are constrained to add that the statement credited to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, during his appearance before the House of Representatives is diversionary and an indication that he is carrying out the whims and caprices of the Honorable Minister of Defence.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice views the recent happenings as a sad development in the sense that as a high ranking officer of the Nigerian Army and one who is conversant with the operational procedures in the Nigerian Military would elect to feign ignorance to an issue as sensitive as arms purchase in the prosecution of the war against terrorism in the country.
We are aware that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for arms purchases and the unholy silence of the Honorable Minister of Defence in this regard leaves many questions unanswered. This is also an embarrassment of unimaginable proportion to the Muhammadu Buhari administration that the Honourable Minister of Defence cannot articulate a response to the questions surrounding the monies meant for arms purchase.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice uses this medium to call on the Honorable Minister to come out clear by providing the much-needed information surrounding the $1billion released to purchase arms.
If this is not the case, we then wonder why the Honorable Minister of Defence has elected to play to the gallery in a case as sensitive as this. More alarming is that the Chief of Army Staff has been carrying out acts that aim to shield the Honorable Minister of Defence.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice frowns at such display and wishes to advise the Chief of Army Staff to be bold enough to stand by the truth instead of being clever by half and attempting to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.
We are constrained to add that if the Chief of Army Staff who has barely spent months in office would not be bold enough to call a spade a spade, we are afraid that his ability to lead the prestigious Nigerian Army is indeed questionable.
It is also curious that the Chief of Army Staff could ask that the past service chief be invited to answer questions on arms procurement during their tenures. This is indeed an anomaly that all well-meaning Nigerians must resist.
This also goes to the Honorable Minister of Defence, who, by his actions, has displayed that he does not have a grasp of the operational strategies of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is our considered opinion that the Honorable Minister of Defence must, as a matter of necessity and urgency, provide the general public details on how the $1billion was expended under his watch in the spirit of transparency and accountability.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to demand that the Honorable Minister of Defence come out clear by providing facts and details on arms procurement under his watch.
Therefore, it would be inexcusable for the Honorable Minister of Defence to continue to shy away from his responsibilities by pushing a distractive narrative in the public space. And not until this is done, the government’s seriousness in the prosecution of the war against terrorism would always be called to question.
The general public must also be aware that the former service chiefs were never involved in arms procurement and must do good to ignore the well-orchestrated campaign in this regard. Consequently, the Honorable Minister of Defence must come out to clear the air if we are indeed serious in addressing the security challenges in the country.
This is the position of the Coalition for Truth and Justice as critical stakeholders in the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in governance in Nigeria.
We thank you for your time and charge all present to take this message to their various constituencies.
God bless Nigeria.
God bless the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
UK Group Task Ibomites to Support Their Leaders
The people of Akwa-Ibom state have been urged to celebrate their own rather than castigating leaders who have sacrificed for the development of their region.
The president General, Global Peace Movement International UK, Dr. Mike Uyi made this declaration in a statement on Thursday in London.
According to him, the people of Akwa-Ibom should see themselves as a region in Nigeria that are lucky to have a leader like the former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio now minister of Niger Delta.
He said, “People of Akwa-Ibom state should learn to celebrate what they have. For any reason whatsoever, Sen. Godswill Akpabio is a palm tree, an iroko which is known by every native and international farmer”.
“Akpabio is tested and trusted. As commissioner, Governor, Senator, now a minister of Niger Delta, he performed excellently and still have outstanding performance among his minister counterparts. So, why attack him?”.
Uyi said assessing Akpabio’s political journey so far, one will not be wrong to call Akpabio a successful politician because of his antecedents.
“If not for anything else, he puts Akwa-Ibom state in the Guinness book of record. The state or region is currently enjoying what Akpabio left on the ground”.
“Global Peace Movement International UK is saying clearly that the future of Nigeria is in Akwa-Ibom”.
Dr. Uyi said Akpabio’s progressive portfolio has added a label (GSM) to his personality. The label GSM stands for: Governor (G), Senator (S) and Minister (M).
“His starling performance can not be compared to any in the history of democracy in Nigeria and in Akwa-Ibom state since the creation of the state”.
Uyi further stated that Akpabio has long transcended state or regional barriers. “His sole motivation has been raising the standards of living of Nigerians, promoting the good image of the country and empowering ordinary citizens of Nigeria to not only pursue their dreams but more importantly in providing them with the means to achieve these dreams”.
Politics7 months ago
Electricity Tariff Hike: Review Is A Painful Adjustment – President Buhari
Politics8 months ago
Party Crisis: Progressives Governors’ Forum DG Calls For Constitutional Review
Politics10 months ago
PGF Boss, Lukman Denies Media Report of Division Among APC Governors
Investigation9 months ago
NDDC Spent 1.3trn Between 2015 And 2019 – Senate Report
Politics2 years ago
Ignore Tinubu’s Comment, He Cannot Speak for South-West – Activist
News2 years ago
Armed Forces Need N9bn Annually For Shoes, Boots, Says DG Defence Research
News2 years ago
Amaechi Endorses AAC Guber Candidate in Rivers
Politics2 years ago
Emir Sanusi Plots Cancellation of Kano Rerun Election