Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship flagbearer Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu spoke with EMMANUEL OLADESU on why he believes voters will reject Governor Godwin Obaseki at the poll.
In this era of COVID-19 pandemic, how are you going to campaign?
I must confess to you that campaigning in this era of COVID-19 pandemic is not an easy task but we must not stop. So, we are breaking ourselves into units, so that we can actually do the door-to-door campaign. So, we are deemphasizing huge rallies and focusing more on small meetings. Again, we now need to actually spend more time on dissemination of information through the media, which means that we need the television, radio and newspapers.
There is the belief that some loyalists of Governor Godwin Obaseki, who did not defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with him, might play the role of moles during the election. How is APC going to do deal with this issue?
Yes, we know that there are moles within the party but I want to assure you that we will deal with that. I will not elaborate on our plan to deal with that, but we will deal with it.
Tension is building up in Edo State ahead of the election. How can violence be averted before, during and after the poll?
We have said that we want this election to be issue-based. We don’t even want to resort to name-calling, let us focus on our agenda. I can assure you that we as party will do everything possible to avoid violence during the election and we hope that the other parties, especially the PDP will do the same because of what is already playing out.
They have campaign billboards and posters across the state; in fact they started erecting such billboards before us but we approached the agency of government in charge and asked about available spaces and the cost. They told us and we paid only to find out that a top official of the government said how can APC be allowed to have campaign billboards at strategic locations.
The next thing that happened was that they began to remove our campaign billboards but we have petitioned the commissioner of Police in Edo State and the state Director of the Department of State Services (DSS). Our campaign organization also addressed a press conference, where it made clear that the PDP must be accommodating and tolerant as well as well as avoid anything that will trigger violence. We could have taken the law into our hands but we didn’t do that. From that time till now, they have not mentioned that one of their billboards was destroyed by our supporters. So, I am assuring you that there will be no violence during the election as we will do our best and will cooperate with the security agents to make sure that election is peaceful.
Have you been able to address those factors that worked against you in the 2016 governorship election?
If you had followed that election, you would have found out that despite the fact that I was coming from an opposition party in the state at that time, it was not easy for the ruling party. They had to postpone the election a day to it and brought it back after 18 days and when the result started coming out and I was leading, but you saw the drama that ensued and announcement of the results had to be stopped. By the time they came back, the whole thing had changed. But, when the Supreme Court says a particular person won, you don’t have to argue. However, I can assure that everything that happened then have been addressed and this time is our time.
Former Governor Adams Oshiomhole said all sorts of things about you during the last election, but you are working with him now. How do you react to that?
Yes, Oshiomhole threw punches at me in 2016, but people tend to have short memory. Oshiomole was at Ben Idahosa University, when I was being given a doctorate and he spent over one hour praising me for my contributions in his government and the role I am playing in the state. Oshiomhole also came to my farm at one time, when I was graduating students and he listed the roles I was playing in the state.
At my 50th birthday, there was no world he didn’t use to describe me including the fact that if he wants to mention those, who have helped him to succeed in government, there is no way my name will not be there. So, if during the campaigns for the 2016 governorship election he was abusing me because I was on the other side, what do you expect? Of course, he needed to abuse me, especially when he didn’t have a good product. You can imagine how Governor Godwin Obaseki started his camp for the forthcoming election. They placed a big screen on Ring road in Benin, where everybody passes and one would have thought that all he would be playing on that kind of screen are achievements of his administration in the last four years. Instead of that, he is playing about the governor of Kano State. It was when condemnation came from within and outside Nigeria that they had to stop it. What has the governor of Kano State got to do with the governorship election in Edo State apart from being the chairman of APC National Campaign Council? I am sure that those who had gone through campaigns before will tell you that people will call their opponents all sorts of names during electioneering campaigns, but if you allow those things to border you, they will distract you.
In fact, I confessed somewhere that they succeeded four years because I had my SIMPLE Agenda but I didn’t talk about it as I spent all the time replying their insults. Everyone knew that I had the SIMPLE Agenda but I didn’t talk about what I had, which they never had. This time I will not allow myself to be distracted; I will tell Edo people about my SIMPLE Agenda.
Are you going to limit yourself to just one term in office if you win the election?
When you are elected; are you elected to serve for two terms? You serve one term at a time and one term is four years, not eight years. So, in terms of planning, don’t leave any of your projects to run for an eight-year period or 20 year-period. If you want people to appreciate what you are doing or you want your agenda to be measurable and achievable, let it be within the period of your tenure. So, when I say four years, I am clearly conscious of the number of years a tenure is. Again, we are not God and nobody knows who will be alive tomorrow and death is not determined by age or position. So, why don’t we talk about what is on ground and leave the future to God?
What is your take on security votes and are you going to stop it?
I won’t say that I will stop security votes because what is important is what you use it for. I can’t make security a cardinal part of my agenda and there are no security votes; it is ridiculous. How do you handle security matters without financial votes? But the money you put in will determine or reflect the seriousness you attach to that area. So, for me, part of the security votes apart from going to the security agencies should also go to vigilant groups. They should not be working for gratis.
How can communities raise people, who are guarding farmlands and rural roads and government will not send them anything as support? Today, all the forests in Edo State have been taken over by criminals. If security votes were well managed by the present administration in the state, those forests would have been cleaned out. So, let use security votes judiciously and not see it as money for the governor.