Ize-Iyamu, Obaseki Bicker Over Protest Against APC Running Mate, Supporters’ Harassment

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The Edo political atmosphere was charged, yesterday as a staccato of accusation and counter-accusation were fired by the campaign organisations of the APC and PDP, and their candidates.

The first exchange of brick-bat was over a  protest against the deputy governorship candidate of the APC, Mr. Gani Audu when he visited the traditional ruler of his Agbede community.

And the second was the allegation of the APC Candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu that Governor Godwin Obaseki was harassing APC’s supporters, who refused to defect with him to the PDP. Mr. Crusoe Osagie, the special adviser on Media and Communication Strategy to Governor Obaseki, dismissed  the accusation as balderdash, saying ‘’with the mass exodus of Obaseki’s supporters to PDP, we have no reason to harass anyone.’’

Some youths displayed placards when Audu visited Agbede on Saturday. The Chairman, Edo State APC Media Campaign Council, John Maiyaki alleged that the protest was sponsored by agents of Governor Obaseki describing it as part of PDP’s desperation.

He said Audu’s insistence on not participating in the controversial inauguration of the state House of Assembly was also part of the reasons he is being attacked.

“The protest was staged. It is a continuation of the desperate propaganda of the PDP. They are not interested in campaigning based on issues because Obaseki has no plan or manifesto. All they want to do is incite Edo people against each other and their own. Hon. Gani Audu is with his people and they are with him.”

In a counter statement, the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, said: “Strangely, the APC woke up on the wrong side of the bed, days after the widely reported incident, to accuse the PDP of sponsoring the Agbede protest.

“We wish to state that the PDP did not sponsor the protest. The claim by APC that the protest was sponsored by our party, the PDP is a figment of their imagination.’’

Obaseki’s intimidating my supporters —Ize-Iyamu

Also, the Vice-Chairman, Communications and Publicity of the Ize-Iyamu Campaign Council, Mr. Patrick Obahiagbon, accused Governor Obaseki of harassing members of the APC serving in elected offices over their refusal to join him in the PDP

Obahiagbon, while addressing news men in Benin, said: “The brazen resort to strong-arm stratagems, unbridled intimidation and macabre bludgeoning of APC members elected into various government positions simply because they have refused to decamp to the PDP along with the Governor verges on depreciable intolerance. It’s unacceptable to us and we call on all progressive democratic forces to condemn this anti-democratic acts oozing from the seat of government, in the strongest of terms.

“A situation where our faithful party elected officials have been suspended from their offices and in some cases, their salaries withdrawn and at other times, forced out of office is not only anti-democratic and Machiavellian but also palpably displays a resort to brute force which must be robustly repudiated by a coalition of progressive forces.’’

It’s propaganda, we have no reason to harass anyone — Obaseki

Countering Mr. Osagie said Obahiagbo’s allegation is mere propaganda because “the PDP in Edo State ran out of membership cards a few days ago over the unprecedented demands for the cards by thousands of Governor Obaseki’s supporters, who are coming into the PDP family from the APC and other parties.

‘’This mass exodus of people into the PDP was widely reported in the media. So why would a well established party like the PDP, with tested structures and verifiable track records for electoral triumphs in Edo State, harass anyone desiring to leave the party?”

‘’The APC is in a dilemma and working hard at deflecting attention away from the credibility crisis it is engulfed in, with the status of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who has been jumping from campaign grounds to the court to face his N700m criminal trial.’’