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Live Updates: Edo Decides 2020

Key Statistics Registered Voters: 2,210,534 Collected PVCs: 1,726,738 Uncollected PVCs: 483,796 Number of Polling Units: 2,078 Voting Units: 1,892         Edo Election 2020: The Countdown    September 19 Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu Go Head to Head as Edo St
Key Statistics

Registered Voters: 2,210,534

Collected PVCs: 1,726,738

Uncollected PVCs: 483,796

Number of Polling Units: 2,078

Voting Units: 1,892

Edo Election 2020: The Countdown 

September 19

Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu Go Head to Head as Edo State Votes

•INEC promises free, fair election•Police deploy 31,000 personnel, vow to deal with lawbreakers•Obaseki: God, let me lose if my re-election bid will cost the blood of anybody

Adibe Emenyonu and Chuks Okocha in Benin, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

After weeks of acrimonious campaigns, the people of Edo State will this morning troop out, amid tension, to elect a governor that will manage the state in the next four years.Fourteen political parties are fielding candidates for the election, but the contest will be a straight fight between incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

For most of yesterday, tension remained very high across the state, with voters bitterly divided between the two leading candidates. Allegations and counter-allegation of planned rigging by the camps of the leading candidates dominated.

Fear of violence is palpable, but the police and other security agencies have assured voters of maximum security. Indeed, every nook and cranny of the state is heavily policed.The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered restriction of vehicular movement in the state from 11:59 p.m yesterday to 6.00 p.m today to curb the movement of illicit arms, hard drugs, and political thugs.

The IG, in the statement signed by Force PRO and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr. Frank Mba, said the restriction order was in line with concerted efforts at ensuring public order and safety during the election holding today.

He said the measure “was informed by the need to prevent the free flow, circulation and use of illicit arms and hard drugs and checkmate the movement of political thugs and touts and other criminally-minded individuals, especially from contiguous states from hijacking and disrupting the electoral process.”

IG Adamu had, during a stakeholders meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission in Benin last Monday, disclosed that no fewer than 31,000 personnel had been deployed for today’s election.

He noted that the force was aware of heightened tension and violence that had characterised political campaigns ahead of the election.He added that the personnel deployed would ensure adequate security and protection of lives and property across the three senatorial districts, as well as the 192 wards and the more than 2,000 polling units in the state.

Adamu stressed that violators of electoral laws and rules during the election would be decisively dealt with irrespective of political affiliation.Also yesterday, the police asked the people of Edo State to return home immediately after voting rather than wait for the counting of the ballot.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Research and Planning, Adeleye Oyebade, who is to coordinate election security in Edo State, said this on a television programmed in Benin.He said, “It is better to come, do what you want to do, and go home; because some people will be kept behind bars and we will do proper investigation and diligent prosecution of offenders that we will apprehend.”

Oyebade said aides to VIPs had been withdrawn until after the poll.He said the police would remain neutral during the exercise and vowed to arrest political thugs.

Oyebade said movement remained restricted and advised any traveler planning to pass through Edo State to take an alternative route.The DIG urged the candidates who signed the peace accord to make sure that they abide by the terms of the agreement.

Behave Responsibly, Buhari Tells Political Parties

President Muhammadu Buhari has equally advised political parties, candidates and security agents to behave responsibly during the Edo election.“I am passionately committed to free and fair elections, but my own commitment is not enough if other actors at ground zero refuse to abide by the rules,” the President said.Buhari said he wants to see democratic standards in the country raised higher at every level.

“These cannot be achieved when politicians resort to do or die methods to gain power by any means or machination.”The president added that “the do-or-die mentality to politics is a threat to free and fair elections because the actors are more focused on winning than caring about a fair outcome that reflects the will of the people.”He advised election officials and security operatives to remain neutral, ensure free elections and to avoid actions capable of compromising the integrity of the elections.

Obaseki: My 2nd Term Ambition is Not Worth Spilling of Anyone’s Blood

Meanwhile, Obaseki has said his second term ambition was not worth spilling the blood of anyone.A statement quoted him as speaking yesterday after a one-day prayer and fasting session for a peaceful election, organised by the Edo Christian Community for all the governorship candidates ahead of the election.

The statement titled, ‘My reelection not worth spilling of blood – Obaseki’, was issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Crusoe Osagie.He specifically asked God to let him lose his re-election bid “if it will cost the blood of anybody.”The governor reassured that today’s election in the state would be peaceful and violence-free.

Obaseki urged eligible voters to come out enmasse without fear of intimidation or harassment, stating that he did not see the need for any form of violence.He said, “Ordinarily, an election is supposed to be a contest where people go to sell their ideal, and citizens in their own free will go and vote for those ideals they believe in; it shouldn’t be one where people will do anything (unwholesome) to get power.

“Election should not be one in which we shed blood because the election will always come. If you die in an election, you will not be there in the next one to vote. So, there is no need for violence.“It’s unfortunate that where we are today we are all afraid that there will be trouble, that there will be crisis and violence but by the grace of God, we will all come out and vote and there won’t be any bloodshed.

“There is no need for any violence and if anybody decides to act in a violent manner, just walk away because our lives are very precious. I have a covenant with God; if it will cost the blood of anybody for me to get into power, he should not let me have power.”On his part, the National President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Reverend Felix Omobude, prayed that God would make peace reign before, during, and after today’s election.

PDP Raises Alarm Over Alleged Harassment of its Governors

Indications that there could be crisis during today’s election arose with the PDP raising the alarm over an alleged harassment of governors elected on its platform, who are in the state for the poll.

Addressing journalists at an emergency press conference, The National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus said while Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state and the deputy senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege were lodged in the Benin home of Adams Oshiomhole, PDP governors were being harassed in their hotels.

Secondus said: “Hope Uzodinma and Ovie Omo-Agege are in the home of the former chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Oshiomhole. PDP governors are being harassed in Westend Hotel, Benin.

“Policemen have surrounded the hotel and their lives are in danger. We call on Inspector General of Police to ask the police to leave the place. If APC governors are in Benin, the PDP governors should be in Benin too. Our governors would remain in Benin, no one can intimidate us.

“We are bringing this to the attention of the international community. Elections must be free. Elections must be allowed to hold. You cannot allow APC governors in Edo, and bar PDP governors,” he said.The PDP claimed Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was prevented from leaving his hotel in Benin City.Wike is the chairman of the PDP national campaign council for the Edo governorship election.

In a statement, Akawor Desmond, Chairman of Rivers PDP, said over 300 policemen had laid siege to the hotel where the governor is staying.He said Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano, and Hope Uzodinma, his Imo counterpart, are moving freely while Wike was prevented from going out.

Desmond said: “Governor Ganduje and Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State are all in Benin, Edo State carrying out their assignment for the APC without any molestation or intimidation.

“And in a breach of the pledge they made, security agencies have decided to harass and intimidate Governor Wike who has not done any wrong.“May I on behalf of entire Rivers people warn that we shall hold the IGP responsible for anything that happens to our Governor.”

Transition Monitoring Group makes case for Mobil Court

The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), in collaboration with the Edo State Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO), yesterday called on the federal government to set up Electoral Malpractices Mobile Court to deal with electoral offenders.

TMG chairman, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi made the call in Benin while briefing journalists on its observation during the electioneering campaign for the Edo state governorship election.

INEC Chairman: Our Staff Will Rise to the Occasion

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu yesterday said that staff of the commission would rise to the occasion of today’s election.In a special message he signed, the INEC chairman said, “I have no doubt that our staff will rise to the occasion. We have done it several times before and we can do it again. The Commission deeply appreciates the never ending sacrifices made by our staff at all times, often beyond the call of duty, to ensure that we carry out our mandate”.

He appealed for commitment from all INEC staff, saying, “Let me appeal to all of you to remain steadfast and committed to the ideals of the Commission Nigerians and the international community expect so much from us.

“They are watching. It is important that we all remain above board in the performance of our respective duties. We must ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other. We must be neutral at all times and stick strictly to our Code of Conduct and Oath of Neutrality to which we have all subscribed”, the INEC Chairman stated.

Yiaga Africa Deploys PVT to Check Credibility of Results

Yiaga Africa, through the Watching The Vote citizens movement, says it is deploying its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for Saturday’s election.

The group explained that the PVT is an advanced election observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and sophisticated information technologies in providing timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting, and it independently verifies the official governorship results as announced by the INEC.

According to Yiaga Africa, “The PVTs are not opinion polls. Yiaga Africa citizen observers do not ask voters for whom they cast their ballot. PVTs rely solely on official results from polling units. This tested and proven election observation methodology has been deployed in over 50 countries worldwide, including Nigeria – most recently by Yiaga Africa in the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections where it detected fraud and manipulation of results collation and declined to verify the official results declared by INEC”.

Situation Room Deploys 300 Observers

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) says it has deployed 300 Observers for today’s election.The Situation Room also said that it would be on ground in Edo State to receive reports from its partners and networks distributed across the 18 local government areas of the State.

In a statement signed Alternate Chair of the Situation Room, Esther Uzoma, the group said it had received assurances from INEC and the Nigeria Police Force “that they are fully prepared for the elections, with INEC assuring that logistics and deployment are fully under its control and the Police assuring that it will keep the security situation under check.”

2,210,534 Voters

A total of 2,210,534 residents have registered to vote in today’s election. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, 1,159,325 are men, while 1,052,209 are women. Also, youths between the ages of 18 and 35 make up 50 per cent of voters.According to the register, the South Senatorial District has the highest number of registered voters with 1,281,414, the North with 564,122, while the Central Senatorial District has the least with 364,998 voters.

The Battle Grounds

In Edo South and Edo North, the fear of a titanic battle is more because of the presence of the two major gladiators in the area.The state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki is from Edo South while his deputy Philip Shaibu is from Edo North.Similarly, while the APC Candidate is from the South district, his running mate is from the North district, thus, today’s election in the two senatorial districts will be tough, leaving Edo Central axis less problematic.

Another reason for the focus on Edo South and North is that the two districts command the highest number of registered voters.The Central District will be less acrimonious because the area has five House of assembly member working for Obaseki and the PDP with only one working for APC.

September 18

Buhari Urges Caution as 2,210,534 Voters Decide Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, Others’ Fate

•483,769 fail to collect PVCs•IG orders restriction of vehicular movement

By Omololu Ogunmade, Kingsley Nwezeh, Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin

President Muhammadu Buhari last night advised political parties, candidates, and security agents to behave responsibly at tomorrow’s Edo State governorship poll in which 2,210,534 voters that have picked up their permanent voter cards (PVCs) would be deciding the fate of the gladiators.

Fourteen candidates, including the incumbent, Mr. Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would participate in the election.

Also, in a move to curb the movement of illicit arms, hard drugs, and political thugs ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday ordered the restriction of vehicular movement in the state.

The president, in a message to voters, political parties, election officials and security personnel, said he was passionately committed to the conduct of free and fair elections.

However, he said his commitment would not be enough if other players at the poll fail to abide by the rules.

A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, quoted the president as admonishing politicians to shun do-or-die affairs in the effort to bring democracy to the next level.

He said: “I want to see democratic standards in the country raised higher at every level, but these cannot be achieved when politicians resort to do-or-die methods to gain power by any means or machination.

“The do-or-die mentality to politics is a threat to free and fair elections because the actors are more focused on winning than caring about a fair outcome that reflects the Will of the people.”

The president appealed to all political parties and their candidates to be peaceful and respect law and order.

He also advised election officials and security agents “to remain neutral to ensure free and fair elections and avoid any action(s) capable of compromising the integrity of the elections.”

Buhari added that conducting free and fair elections is one of his main concerns for democracy.

“I want this commitment to be one of the legacies I will leave behind when I depart office,” the president said.

A total of 2,210,534 voters would tomorrow determine the fate of Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu and 12 others in the race.

According to the election bulletin obtained by THISDAY from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 1,159,325 of these voters are males, while 1,052,209 are females.

However, 483,769 voters failed to collect their PVCs.The document also showed that youths between the ages of 18 and 35 make up 50 per cent of voters.

The electoral commission has, however, pledged neutrality and fairness in the conduct of the election just as the police have promised to deploy three officers to man each of the 2,627 polling booths in the state.

According to INEC document, Edo South Senatorial district has the highest number of registered voters with 1,281,414; followed by Edo North with 564,122, while Edo Central Senatorial district has the least with 364,998 voters.

The document revealed that among the 14 political parties participating, 12 of the 14 governorship candidates are males, leaving two females.

The candidates for the elections are Obhafuoso Paul for Action Alliance (AA); Akhigbe Ehiabhi for the African Democratic Congress (ADP); Ibio Emmanuel for Action Democratic Party (ADP); Osagie Ize-Iyamu for APC.

Others are: Lucky Idehen for All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Igbineweka Osamuede for Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Amos Osalumese Areloegbe for All Peoples Party (APP) and Osifo Uhun-Ekpenma for Labour Party (LP).

The Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) will field Agolebun Tracy as the governorship candidate; Stevie Ozono for National Rescue Movement (NRM); incumbent governor Godwin Obaseki for PDP; Jones Osagiobare for the Young Progressive Party (YPP), while Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) would field Akhalamhe Amiemenoghena.

The election would be conducted in 193 wards located in 18 local government areas of the state.

IG Orders Restriction of Vehicular Movement

Meanwhile, in a move to curb the movement of illicit arms, hard drugs, and political thugs ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday ordered the restriction of vehicular movement in the state.

A police statement said the restriction of vehicular movement would commence from 11:59 p.m on Friday (today), September 18, 2020, to 6.00 p.m on Saturday, September 19, 2020.

IG, in the statement signed by Force PRO and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr. Frank Mba, said the restriction order was in line with concerted efforts at ensuring public order and safety during the election slated to hold on Saturday.

He said the measure “was informed by the need to prevent the free flow, circulation and use of illicit arms and hard drugs and checkmate the movement of political thugs and touts and other criminally-minded individuals especially from contiguous states from hijacking and disrupting the electoral process.”

Adamu warned that the force would not sit idly by and watch citizens who may want to engage in any criminal, violent and destructive acts, snatching of ballot boxes, vote-buying, vote-selling, hate speeches, and other acts capable of compromising the electoral process.

He enjoined the citizens to see the restriction as part of the necessary sacrifice towards the enthronement of democracy.

PDP Protests, Demands Free, Fair Election

Meanwhile, PDP national leadership yesterday led all members of NWC of the party to INEC, demanding that the commission must remain neutral in the tomorrow’s election.

Speaking with journalists after their protest to INEC headquarters in Abuja, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said: “We are deeply worried and in pain because of our past experience especially those of Kogi and Bayelsa states.

“We are worried because the country is in crises: crisis in economy, crisis in the area of security, virtually in all facets of the life of the nation; and the only way out of all these crises is to conduct free and fair elections, which will at most reduce the tension in our country today.

“Let me also use this opportunity to call on all the security agencies, especially the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Director-General of DSS. We have been reliably informed that over 1,500 men and the special squad are on their way to Edo State to carry out their lawful duties. We agree, but the past elections have shown that some of the officers in plain clothes are used by APC to replace results; it has happened.

“I believe that the situation in the country demands from all of us some level of responsibilities, to be law-abiding. Let them conduct free and fair elections, according to the rules, the electoral law. The securities are there to prevent violence, to help INEC.”

According to PDP national chairman, “In an election in a state like Imo where somebody that came fourth according to the results announced by INEC, but the man who took fourth was declared the winner by the court; that is not what the country needs today.

“We pride ourselves as the most populated Black country in the world in our continent, but if we cannot conduct a credible free and fair election, what will be our position? As you are aware, Ghana is setting the pace whereas Nigeria is supposed to be setting the pace for the rest of Africa to follow but today we are behind Ghana, it is a shame.”

He said what took place at INEC office was a “peaceful protest to remind INEC to also speak to other security agencies not to damage the image of INEC, strictly that they should follow the rules. We believe that our message will be delivered to the chairman and we have confidence that INEC will not fail again.”

He said INEC in its response pledged to conduct a free and fair election.

“They made promises before; even the security agencies made a promise before and they failed.

“What legacy are we going to leave behind for the next generation of Nigerians? We want to appeal to you to use your good offices to make sure that the final order and meetings with security agencies lead to the conduct of free and fair elections. That’s all we demanding – free and fair election, transparent election, credible election – so that our country can move forward,” he said.

INEC Expresses Readiness for Edo Poll, Assures of Fairness

Receiving PDP team in Abuja, INEC National Commissioner in Charge of Election and Party Monitoring, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, told party: “The commission is aware of your fears and we will do our best to deliver on a free, fair, credible, and safe election. The commission has just returned from a visit to Edo State; the chairman and members of the commission went to Edo State to check on the processes for the election, last-minute processes.

“By the time we departed, we were very sure that virtually everything is on course.

What remains is the distribution of sensitive materials and that is to take place today. Just before you arrived, the process has been concluded and all the local government has proceeded, in fact, we started with the farthest local government, they have received their materials.

“All the vehicles are being tracked to ensure and to be able to say where they are, at any point in time. So, the processes are on, if there is any local government outstanding, they are the ones within the city of Benin and that process in on.

“The commission has always given you assurances like you said. What we shall continue to do is to assure you that on our part, as the election management body, we will continue to give you our best. I want to tell you that on Saturday, we may not all be in Benin, but we are going to operate a virtual situation room where we will be seeing all that is going on in all locations and we will be dealing with problems as they arise.

“For the second time, election observers, civil society organisations, the media will be allowed access into this virtual situation room. They will be given codes with which they can join and they can ask questions; we can respond to issues as they see them. I think that is already a very high level of openness of the process. So, we have done our best.

“You raised an issue regarding result sheets. I’d like to say that at the stakeholders’ meeting that was held in Benin, your party made a request that the result sheet, the registration area which is the ward collation sheet, the local government collation sheets should be signed by REC. The commission has directed that REC does that and that was done in the presence of parties, civil society organisations, and the media.

“So, once again, I just want to assure you that it is in our own interest, it is for our own good that a free fair, credible election goes on, on Saturday and that is what we promised that we are going to deliver.”

INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Chairman of Information and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, also told THISDAY that the commission is ready for the election.

“We are ready for the election. Everything is in order as planned. Yes. We are ready. All the materials for the election have been distributed. Both sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been sent to their respective and designated places under the eagle eyes of the security agencies.

“Yes, we are ready and we are ready to go,” he stated.

Okoye added that by the provisions of the Electoral Act, all campaigns ended yesterday (Thursday).

Nigeria Police had earlier warned would-be “miscreants and other political thugs” that might be planning mischief on the election day to desist from it or they would be dealt with severely.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Adeleye Oyegbade, told journalists in Benin City on Wednesday that the police had carried out a security threat analysis, noting that all identified vulnerable points, entry, and exit points have been mapped out for special security coverage.

The DIG said: “Adequate police officers comprising conventional, plain-clothed policemen and Special Forces have been deployed to provide robust security, during and after the election.

“We have carried out security threat analysis hence, all identified vulnerable points, entry and exit points have been mapped out for special security coverage, while the military is expected to perform the required complementary role of outer cordoning.

“For effective manning of polling booths, no fewer than three police officers and personnel of other security agencies will be deployed in each of the 2,627 polling booths.”

PSC: Police Must Operate Within the Law in Edo, Ondo Elections

By Kingsley Nwezeh 

Ahead of the gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States, the Police Service Commission (PSC) yesterday warned that  personnel of the Nigeria Police deployed in Edo and Ondo States must operate within the law.

It said any infractions on the laws and rules guiding election policing by any officer would be investigated and appropriate sanctions applied.

A statement issued by the commission said a high-powered team of the PSC was already in Edo State to monitor the conduct of policemen on electoral duties during the state governorship poll scheduled for September 19.

The statement signed by the spokesman of the Commission, Mr. Ikechukwu Ani, said the team was led by the Commissioner representing human rights organisations in the commission, Hon Rommy Mom, and the representative of the media in the commission, Hon Austin Braimoh.

“The commission wishes to advise that all police officers on electoral duty in Edo State must operate within the law and rules of engagement, as any infractions on the laws/rules guiding the election policing by any officer will be investigated and appropriate sanctions applied,” it said.

Ani said the commission received assurances from the leadership of the police charged with maintaining peace and order during the election in the state that every security arrangement was  in place to ensure a hitch-free and peaceful poll.

He added that the commission also released dedicated telephone numbers for complaints and commendation on the conduct of police during the exercise.

PDP Alleges Plot to Move Money from Lagos to Rig Edo Poll

Adibe Emenyonu in Benin-city

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State has raised the alarm on alleged plots by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to use private jets and helicopters to move money from Lagos to Edo State in order to rig the state governorship election in favour of the APC.

The Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, who stated this yesterday, noted that last Tuesday, the electorate in the state were awakened to a vexatious broadcast by a national leader of APC, “where he insulted the intelligence of the Edo people by asking them to overlook the developmental strides made by the candidate of the PDP in the election, Governor Godwin Obaseki, and hand him the treasure of the state to extend his empire to our dear state.

“We have it on good authority that APC national leader, working in concert with the leadership of the APC in Edo State, has gone a step further from the inciting broadcast by sending down helicopters and private jets loaded with money in an attempt to buy our state and annex it as a part of his fiefdom.

“We want the electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), observers and other stakeholders in the electoral process to take note of this move and ensure that necessary actions are taken to avert the sinister plot to subvert the will of the Edo people on Saturday.”

Nehikhare further alleged of plot by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) in league with the APC to cut off power supply to the collation centres across the state at critical time like on Saturday, urging the National Electricity Regulatory Company (NERC) to sanction the Disco if it goes ahead with orders issued by the management.

“We are alerting BEDC and its management that we are aware of their plot, and that Edo people would vehemently resist the role to cooperate in attempting to undermine their will in this election,” he stated.

APC Raises the Alarm over Alleged Arrival of Thugs in Edo

By Adibe Emenyonu

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State has raised the alarm over the alleged arrival of thugs in the state capital, Benin-city, yesterday night and the alleged recruitment of thugs loyal to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, stating that the latest alleged recruitment occurred in Warri in Delta State.

This was revealed in a statement by the Publicity Secretary of the state APC, Mr. Chris Azebanmwani, who said the alleged thugs gained entrance into Benin-city and that more are ready to arrive in the city.

He disclosed that: “One of my good sources in Delta State called me and told me that our election will be “bloody”. He told me that thugs in Delta State are currently mobilising. He has some of them in his contact, and that Obaseki is looking for more thugs. Some of them have already taken off from Warri yesterday and more will be leaving there in morning. These are people that were given clear instruction on what to do once they enter Edo State. They will lie low and carry out some kidnappings then unleash myhem on Saturday morning.”

On the direness of the situation, Azebanmwan said: “The security agencies that have been deployed in the state and the resilience of our people will nullify all the thugs that the governor is bringing in. People are so tired of Obaseki that they actually believe that the governor’s second term must not be. Second term with the man is as good as packing out of Edo State. His governance is like giving gun to a baby to play with, so the people will come out to collect the power of Edo State from him.”

September 17

Edo 2020: INEC Commences Distribution of Sensitive Materials to LGs

By Adibe Emenyonu

Ahead of the Edo State governorship election scheduled for Saturday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Thursday, began the distribution of sensitive materials to the 18 local government areas of the state.

Addressing journalists at the premises of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Benin, venue of the distribution exercise, the Head of Voter Education and Publicity of INEC in the state, Timidi Wariowei, said that the distribution commenced with the farthest local government areas.

He said: “So far, we have loaded about vehicles for 11 local government starting from Akoko-Edo, Etsako Central, Owan East and Owan West, among others.

“Some have gone and others are completely loaded and are sorting out their security escort and very soon, materials will move to all the local government.

“From the local government, the materials will move to Registration Areas Centres (RACs) and from there to polling units and voting points on Saturday morning.

“We are fully ready for the election. This is the high point of our preparation, the moving of materials from the CBN to all the local government areas. As you can see, one of the vans loaded with sensitivity materials is just leaving the premises of the CBN, Benin.”

Ize-Iyamu: My SIMPLE Agenda will Transform Edo

•Promises to diversify economy

•Obaseki fails to show up at conversation despite written invitation, due processes

By Emma Okonji, Eromosele Abiodun, Nosa Alekhuogie, Sunday Ehigiator in Lagos, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday disclosed that his plans for Edo State as encapsulated in his SIMPLE Agenda will transform all sectors of the state’s economy with a focus on security, health, infrastructure and job creation.

Ize-Iyamu, who is the main challenger to the governor of Edo State and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Godwin Obaseki, stated this when he appeared on a special edition of The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers.

The special programme, which was designed as a series of dialogue among the 14 competing candidates, by ARISE NEWS Channel with the support of EiE, a group of individuals and organisations committed to institute a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship, was scheduled to feature Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu yesterday.

But the Edo State governor refused to show up despite a written invitation and assurances from him that he would participate in the dialogue.

However, a statement by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, said Obaseki boycotted the conversation because he learnt at the last minute that it was going to be a debate.

“Governor Obaseki was preparing to depart for the venue of the programme early this morning when information came that the event was no longer a conversation but a debate,” he claimed, adding: “The banner headline on the invitation card to the event reads, Edo Governorship: The Conversation. This information is available online and can be verified. How a conversation turned to a debate is a question only organisers of the eve can explain.”

But from the invitation letter dated September 9, 2020, and signed by ARISE NEWS Managing Director, Ms. Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, (see a copy on page 8) the party chieftain’s explanation for his candidate’s no show would appear to be an afterthought as it was made very clear that the engagement would be a dialogue between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu.

The letter read in part: “There are 14 candidates in the Edo governorship election and we are inviting all candidates to participate in the dialogues. You will be hosted with the APC candidate, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, while the other twelve candidates will be split into two groups of six candidates each in separate sessions.

“The dialogue would be for two hours during The Morning Show, our flagship programme with the highest number of viewers nationwide and The Diaspora. It will focus on topics: (1) education, (2) healthcare, (3) job creation, and (4) the economy.”

Not only did the governor during private conversations with the station’s managing director agree to participate in the dialogue, he also paid for advertisements, which were aired throughout the programme.

In a press statement from the Chairman of Edo APC Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, while reacting to the governor’s refusal to attend the conversation said, “the governor’s cowardice is legendary, shameless, and unbecoming of someone who hopes to lead the fearless people of Edo State.

This is the third time that Obaseki will flee from a debate. What is he running away from? From accountability and transparency? This tells you that the Channels TV Interview was arranged. It is sad that someone that campaigned on accountability and said Edo would be the envy of the western world in terms of transparency is now running away from giving account of what he has done and what he hopes to do”.

The APC spokesman disclosed that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was always ready to serve no matter the obstacles, without giving excuses.

He said, “This tells you that we are ready to serve. You saw how the governor planted his people in the studio for channels television and they yelled thuggishly, making such a fracas with the sole aim of turning a debate into a campaign rally. It was an elaborate setup by the governor Obaseki-led government to hoodwink the nation and the people of Edo State, but those in the state know what is going on.”

He added that although Obaseki had paid for adverts on Arise TV “just the same way he paid for adverts on Channels Television,” it meant nothing to the governor to run away from the debate after wasting Edo people’s money on advertisements’.

He disclosed that, “With this dodgy attitude of Obaseki, Edo people cannot have confidence in him. He has consistently failed promises made to workers, traders and farmers in Edo State. Now, he has taken his unreliability to the media three times and the one time he appeared in the media, he knows how much he spent to present a good image. No one trusts him”.

He therefore urged Edo people, “ to come out en masse and vote out tyranny, cowardice, oppression and dishonesty”. Ize-Iyamu during the conversation accused Obaseki of financial recklessness in managing state resources.

According to him, “I have a comprehensive document on how I believe we can reverse the fortune of our state, and make it better. I believe sincerely that without good security, we would not be able to position our state in where we want it to be. Investors will not come, Tourists will not come, even our own indigenes abroad would be reluctant to come back home if we continue to suffer the level of insecurity that we have.

“In the same way, without serious infrastructure, it is going to be very difficult to attract any serious industry or business to our state. Our people too must be trained and retrained so they can have the necessary skills to compete at any level. So, the agenda has been well thought out, and in terms of implementation, of course, we would be looking at funds. The state is blessed, I just believe that our money has not been prudently utilised in the past.”

If elected, he said, he intends to set up an economic management team that would ensure that the monies of the state are well utilised.

He said: “In terms of immediate implementation, it depends on what we have in the coffers of the state. If our state is not in the red, then there are so many things we can jumpstart and begin to do. If, however, we find out that our state is in the red, there is nothing wrong with accessing the capital market to see how we can get some short-term facility to be able to kick-start what we want to do.“But we sincerely believe that by the time we begin to implement our programmes, the structures of our state will change. By the time people see our sincerity, our focus and priorities, we also believe that so many donor agencies and so many people would be willing to come to our aid and to assist our state.

“So, we are not too much afraid about how we want to implement our project, we just want to win first, get in, and then you would see a serious implementation of the agenda we have set for ourselves.”Ize-Iyamu, who decried the high level of unemployment in Edo State said the state government could have done much more to reverse the situation if appropriate plans were put in place.

“I believe the current statistics are worse. The statistics you have right now are based on the data that was received, and mainly from the Edo State government. But I have told people in another forum that most of those statistics are wrong. The bogus claims that 151,000 jobs have been created are not true. The unemployment rate is a lot higher.

“To be able to reverse the trend, we believe that with the SIMPLE agenda, a lot of things would change.“For example, by the time we make our state more secured, a lot of businesses are going to come, the existing ones are going to expand and increase their scope, and that would help a lot in creating more jobs,” he said.

On the high level of insecurity in Edo State, he said the high rate of unemployment in the state was responsible, promising that he will reverse the trend by engaging the unemployed youths.

According to Ize-Iyamu, “This government has wasted so many resources in Edo State. For instance, the farm projects that the present government embarked upon, actually flopped and it was a complete waste of resources of Edo State people. The farm projects were not well thought out and they did not bring in the right professionals to handle it. In one of the farm projects, the government wasted close to N2 billion on that project because it failed. The rice project in Aghenegbode, where the government claimed it invested over N5 billion, also was a big failure and a complete waste of resources. Those projects failed because the government refused to consult the required experts to handle the projects.

If voted into power, I will consult with the right professionals and ensure that projects are successfully implemented in the state.”

He said a lot of businesses are going to come, and the existing ones are going to expand and increase in scope, which would help a lot in creating more jobs.

“The security aspect of our SIMPLE Agenda is also intended to get many of our young ones employed. We intend to do community policing whereby we identify the local vigilante group all over the state, organise them and make them more functional and ensure that on a monthly basis, we pay them some stipend for keeping our state safe and complementing the police,” he added.

In the area of agriculture, Ize-Iyamu said Edo State government should be able to invest in agriculture in the areas such as rubber, cocoa and cassava, explaining that when he was secretary to the government of the state, the government deliberately established a Cassava Factory at Uromi with support from Brazil.

He also spoke on the state’s capacity for generating internal revenue, saying statistics showed that the state had not been doing very well in IGR in the past three years of the Obaseki administration.“The statistics on IGR in the state for the past three years shows slow growth in IGR because the government is not generating enough money; rather, it has relied so much on federal government allocation and taxes from within the state. A serious government should be able to think outside of the box to attract foreign investments that will drive IGR,” he said, pledging: “If voted into power, what I will do is to diversify the Edo economy and ensure that the economy is stronger with short term return on investments. I will increase the IGR of the state and increase employment for our youths. We will stimulate the economy of Edo State through public-private partnerships that will further raise the IGR of the state.”

On insecurity and poor infrastructural development in the state, Ize-Iyamu said: “My SIMPLE Agenda will bring about investments in security and infrastructure. In the area of security, we intend to use technology to deal with crimes in the state.

“We will employ the services of drones to monitor most of our localities in order to fish out kidnappers and armed robbers from their hiding places. We will purchase trackers to trace and track kidnappers. We will invest in infrastructure in the areas of health, agriculture and ensure that we use modern technology tools to drive processes in those areas in order to give real support to the citizens. People should have access to quality equipment in schools and hospitals.”

He added that if voted into power, he would run a very serious security outfit and bring in all security agencies in the state to fight crimes at all levels.

Fielding questions about the educational situation of the state, Ize-Iyamu said: “We will invest in education, using technology to drive digital education through e-learning. With COVID-19, we need to change from our traditional way of education to a digital way of offering educational services. We intend to resuscitate the Benin Technical College, which has been abandoned by the present government.

If that college was resuscitated by the present government, it would have been a centre for manpower development in the state, where technical skills will be developed for the state.”

According to the APC governorship aspirant: “When I become governor of Edo State, I will build a disease control centre in the state, well equipped with the latest medical tools and medical professionals. We will provide healthcare centres in all local government areas. Hospitals, where serious health issues are addressed, are the responsibility of state government, and that should be an area of priority for us if voted into power.

“We have 34 government hospitals in Edo State, but they are all in a deplorable state, which we plan to renovate and rebuild.”

September 16

#EdoDecides2020: My Devt Agenda for Edo, by Ize-Iyamu

By Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu 

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that his agenda to develop the state is well thought out, saying the plans to revamp the state economy are already in place.

Ize-Iyamu disclosed this Wednesday while featuring on “The Conversation”, a debate programme on The Morning Show of Arise News Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY.

Ize-Iyamu said when elected, his administration intends to invest a lot of money on infrastructure, while also empowering local businesses.

He said, “Without serious infrastructure, it is going to be very hard to attract any serious industry or business for our state and then of course, our people too must be trained to make them have the necessary skills to compete. So, the agenda has been well thought out, in terms of implementation we will be looking at funds, the state is blessed, so I just believe that our monies have not been prudently utilized. This time we intend to set up an economic management team that will ensure that the monies of the state are well utilized. We sincerely believe that by the time we begin to implement our programmes, our state will change, by the time people see our sincerity, our focus, we also believe that so many donor agencies will be willing to come to our aid and assist us. We are not too much afraid on how to implement our project, we just want to wait first, get in and then you will see serious implementation of the agenda we have set.”

The APC candidate said he believes that the statistics of the unemployment rate in the state according the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which it said currently stands at 19 per cent and under-employment rate at 34.9 per cent were worse than that.

According to him, “The statistics are based on the data that they received from Edo state government. But I have told people in other fora that most of those statistics are wrong. The bogus claim that 151,000 thousand jobs are being created is not true. The unemployment rate is a lot higher. We believe that with the SIMPLE agenda a lot of things will change. By the time we make our state more secure, a lot of businesses are going to come, the existing ones are going to expand and increase their scope and that will help a lot in creating more jobs.”

On security, Ize-Iyamu noted that he intended to employ the youths and integrate them into community policing programme, while also identifying local vigilante groups, reorganize them and make them more functional, while monthly stipends would be paid to them.

Ize-Iyamu said: “When this governor came in, the security vote was around 4.5 billion annually. He came in and increased it to 7.5 billion, which is like almost 100 percent increase but unfortunately how is he spending it? The little statistics I got is frightening. Before the Edo state police command was getting like N5 million monthly to compliment what they are doing, and you expect that the governor who has increased the security vote by almost hundred per cent to review that and give them something reasonable to make them function better, but in the last four years there has been no change, it has been the same. Edo security trust fund which I support, which is something that will compliment government investment in security sector nobody is interested because they don’t see any seriousness on the part of government.”

“When I was in government, it was regular to purchase vehicles, brand new ones to support the police so that movement can be easy. What we found in this administration was a joke. Government must invest in security and if they are using security vote for that, complimenting traditional institutions to ensure that the community police are all functioning, I won’t be here querying the security votes, but when nothing is happening, the level of insecurity will be at all time high. That is why people are complaining, you can’t be collecting over N600 million monthly and what we have been able to calculate that you spend maximum is N20 million. How can you spend only 20 million on security when you collected 600 million, what are you doing with the balance. Even during Covid when the governor had to review the budget, the security vote was not touched, the money for judiciary was cut down by almost 50 percent. The issue is what are u doing with it?”

The APC candidate added that his administration would also invest in the teachers, stressing that a functional education system cannot be achieved without investing in the teachers.

On economy, Ize-Iyamu, said, at the moment, the state was stagnated as the administration of Obaseki concentrated focused only on the traditional areas of revenue generation.

He stated: “The economy must be diversified, we can no longer continue that, putting all our hope on what comes in from the federation account. There are some projects that can bring short term returns, we need to diversify our economy and look at projects that can bring revenue to our state. If I can ask where are the new projects that Obaseki brought to the state there are none.

“The so called industrial park that was started with fanfare nothing happened to it. We intend to stimulate the economy, public private partnership will drive the process and we will see more people coming in, which means that the level of economy activities will increase, more people will be employed and more investors, on taxation we will have increase in corporate taxes and payee.”

On Debt management, Ize-Iyamu stressed that the South-south region had the highest debt profile, while revenue generation in the region remains very low; adding, “so, it’s a contradiction that we’ve incurred so much debt and there’s nothing to show for it. We need to see how we can manage these debts. Our experts need to sit with us so we will able to see how these debts can be managed.”

#EdoDecides2020: I’ll Give Priority to Health, Education, Infrastructure, Ize-Iyamu Assures Voters

The Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this weekend’s governorship election in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that his administration will  give priority to health, education and infrastructure.

Ize-Iyamu disclosed this on Wednesday while featuring on “The Conversation”, a debate programme organised for Ize-Iyamu and the candidate of the Peoples Democraic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, on Arise News channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY.

He said, “We have to give priority to health, education and infrastructure. I had a debate with Obaseki sometime ago, he said his primary focus was primary healthcare and not hospitals, I had to make it clear that hospitals are where serious illnesses are treated. The Governor promise to build primary healthcare centres in 192 wards has failed. He did 22 out of 192 which is about 11 percent and that’s failure. He didn’t make any promise for secondary health institutions.”

#EdoDecides2020: Insecurity in Edo Alarming, Says Ize-Iyamu

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has described the insecurity in the state as alarming.

Ize-Iyamu disclosed this on Wednesday while featuring on “The Conversation”, a debate programme organised for Ize-Iyamu and the candidate of the Peoples Democraic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, on THE Morning Show of Arise News channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY.

According to him, “The statistics of our security vote is frightening. Governor that increased security votes has not been able make any change in the security sector. What we found in this administration was a joke. Even the state police were not provided with brand new vehicles. The level of insecurity is all time high. We are faced with challenges of kidnapping, that’s why people are complaining. From our calculations, you can’t be collecting 600 million monthly, only spending about 20 million. So what are u doing with it.”

Details later…

#EdoDecides2020: Ize-Iyamu Promises to Diversify Edo Economy

The Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this Saturday’s Edo election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has promised to diversify the economy of the state if elected as governor.

He disclosed this on Wednesday while featuring on “The Conversation”, a  programme organised for Ize-Iyamu and the candidate of the Peoples Democraic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, the two leading candidates in the Saturday’s election on ARISE News channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY.

Ize-Iyamu said the unemployment statistics of Edo was a lot higher than disclosed, adding that  there is need to diversify Edo economy.

“Edo failed to plan for the rainy days, they concentrated on traditional form of revenue, hence the reason for stagnation and why they were not able to cushion effects of covid-19,” he said, while faulting the economic policies of the current PDP administration of Obaseki.

Details later…

#EdoDecides2020: I Will Not Scrap Security Vote, Says Ize-Iyamu

 Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this weekend’s Edo election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that he would not scrap security vote if elected governor of Edo State.

Speaking Wednesday on a programme on Edo Election tagged The Conversion on The Morning Show on ARISE News where he is discussing his vision for the state, Ize-Iyamu said he would invest in Security to guarantee safety of lives and property, and attract investment.

He noted that there cannot be economic growth if there was no security, adding that he would however ensure that security funds are prudently expended.

Details later..

#EdoDecides2020: My Administration Will Make Case for Debt Forgiveness, Says Ize-Iyamu

Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this weekend’s Edo election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, said if elected governor, his administration will seek for debt forgiveness from lenders.

Speaking Wednesday on The Morning Show on ARISE News where he and Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two main candidates in this weekend’s Edo election, are billed to discuss their vision, he said he would be relunctant to seek loans for projects that are not economically viable.

He said that he would leverage on the people of the state who are well positioned in the Diaspora so that they could pull resources and invest in projects in the state.

He said he was hoping that when he assumes office, if elected, the economic situation in the state will not be very bleak.

Details later..

#EdoDecides2020: My SIMPLE Agenda will Create Jobs, Reposition Economy, Says Ize-Iyamu

Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this weekend’s Edo election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has said that his SIMPLE agenda would create jobs and reposition Edo economy.

Speaking Wednesday on The Morning Show on ARISE News where he and Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two main candidates in this weekend’s Edo election are discussing their vision for the state, the APC candidate said he was in the race to rescue Edo and reposition the economy so that the people of the state can continue to again enjoy the dividends of democracy.

He said the SIMPLE agenda, which is an acronym that stands for Security, Infrastructural development, Manpower development, Public private partnership, Leadership and Employment creation, was all about job creation and repositioning the fortunes of the state economy.

Details later…

Dousing Tension, Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, Others Commit to Peaceful Election

•Tinubu urges electorate to reject Edo gov•We will win, Atiku, PDP reply

By Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Peter Uzoho in Lagos and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, all the political parties and their candidates, particularly the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday signed a peace accord to ensure peaceful conduct before, during and after the election.

The peace deal signed in Benin City, Edo State capital, which seeks to douse the rising pre-election tension was brokered by the Nigeria Peace Committee (NPC), led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd); and supported by the Kukah Centre for Faith, Leadership and Public Policy, headed by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.

The peace deal occurred on the day Obaseki and the PDP berated the National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, for his campaign against the Edo State governor.

The former Lagos State governor had in a viral video called on the people of Edo State to reject Obaseki in the state’s governorship election holding this weekend.

Promising to abide by the peace agreement, Obaseki said he is fully committed to a peaceful election.

The Edo governor, however, appealed to the NPC to also reach out to other political actors in the election who have an influence on the polity so as to get full assurance that the process is sacrosanct.

He said: “I want to say on behalf of myself, as a candidate of the party and my party, the PDP, that we are fully committed to ensuring that we have a peaceful election. I have no choice because, in addition to being a candidate, I am also the governor and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the state.

“I want to commit publicly, once again, that I will live by the letter and spirit of the accord that has just been signed.”

Ize-Iyamu, also promised an unwavering commitment to the peace accord.

“Let me reaffirm our commitment to what has been signed and to assure Nigerians and particularly our people in Edo State, that we will talk to all our supporters and we will conduct ourselves peacefully. We will do our best to ensure that the election is peaceful. We support free, fair and credible election. We believe that is the only way that we can sustain our democracy,” he said, adding: “We want to assure all our dignitaries that, by the grace of God, the election is going to be very peaceful. We thank you and we are grateful.”

Abdulsalami said the essence of the accord was to ensure a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the election.

He noted that it is not just for the candidates to sign the peace accord but to also accept the outcome of the election by telling their supporters to eschew violence.

He said: “We want a situation where voters will come out on Election Day without fear of harassment and intimidation. We urge all the stakeholders and key people to be committed to the Peace Accord and ensure that peace reigns during and after the election.

“As you are all aware since 1999, democratic elections in Nigeria have been conducted with varying degrees of violence.” He said the tension and anxiety around elections necessitated the setting up of the National Peace Committee whose mandate is to support peaceful election processes and cultivate a culture of peace.

The former Head of State stressed that in 2014, the committee commenced efforts to support free, fair and credible elections and to ensure a peaceful transition, adding that the intervention of the committee contributed immensely to the success of the 2015 election.

He further stated that since that time, NPC has successfully intervened in elections to ensure a peaceful outcome right after the just past 2019 general election.

“The gubernatorial election in Edo State is just a few days away and having peace during and after the election is a priority which must be done,” he said, adding: “We as a people should aspire to see a Nigeria where people feel safe to come out of their homes to cast their votes without any fear.”

Abdulsalami explained that election could not hold in the absence of a peaceful atmosphere and said disharmony among political parties was responsible for the tensions usually witnessed during elections.

“Therefore, all contesting parties need to adopt a code of conduct that will remove confrontation among them,” he said.

Earlier, the Inspector-Gen

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