By Emmanuel Oladesu
Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday alleged that Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were fuelling religious tension.
It frowned on the reaction of the PDP to the honorary ‘Itsemakohna’ (‘this is our own’) title conferred on Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu by the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III.
The Opposition said PDP’s uncomplimentary remark about the conferment was a slap on Christians and an attempt to introduce RUGA to Edo State.
APC Media Campaign Council Chairman John Mayaki said PDP is insensitive to the cultural and religious diversities in the state.
But, Obaseki’s media aide, Crusoe Osagie, said the PDP has promoted religious harmony in Edo more than the APC.
Mayaki said in a statement that Auchi, popularly called the Afemai or Afenmai region, is a predominantly Muslim area under the traditional leadership of the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III.
He said this fact had been respected by Edo people for long, adding that the citizens had lived in harmony despite religious differences because of mutual respect.
Mayaki added: “The conferment of the ‘Itsemakohna’ title on Pastor Ize-Iyamu, as explained by the candidate, was a mark of honour indicative of his level of acceptance in all parts of Edo State.
“His religion and position as a pastor are not unknown to the Otaru who, indeed, refers and regards him as a Christian and an ordained man of God.
“The symbolic turbaning is not a religious ceremony, but a cultural one to show that the people of Auchi no longer want Governor Obaseki and have embraced the APC candidate.
“There are many reasons for the rejection of the embattled governor, part of which include his flagrant disrespect for tradition and well-known divisive tendencies, a fact he and his party have corroborated with the evil insinuations they introduced to the event, seeking to stoke religious tension.
“The governor’s disrespect for tradition was apparent when he visited the palace of the Oba of Benin without the customary kola nut he should have carried and met a cold reception. His opponent, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, a more urbane and culturally conscious man, carried the kola nut on his visit and was met by a full regiment of powerful Benin chiefs, who greeted him affectionately.”