Edo Polls: Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu spar at Edo gubernatorial debate

THE  Edo gubernatorial election debate, ahead of the elections slated for Saturday, saw frontline candidates Osagie Ize-Iyamu, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, going head to head.

The debate which was organised by Channels Television and its affiliate partners which comes barely a week before the elections, featured topics ranging from internal revenue generation, Obaseki’s academic qualification, jobs creation in the state amongst other issues.

During the debate, Seun Okinbaloye had asked the candidates to outline their plans for job creation in the State.

In his response, Obaseki said his antecedents spoke for him because he had promised to provide 200,000 jobs within a four-year span but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed his proposed plan from coming to fruition.

“On the onset, I promised I will raise a minimum of 200,000 jobs within a minimum of a four-year period. And just before COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had created direct and indirect jobs for Edo people as much as 157,000.

“And where did the jobs come from? They came from the way the government decided to address the economy. The government is creating an enabling environment for people to come and invest so that the economy can thrive,” he said.

Ize-Iyamu disagreed with the data on job creation in Edo State Obaseki was falsified because if jobs were created as he claimed the State’s internally generated revenue would have increased.

“I hope the governor is not going to mistake the appointments he is making now as jobs because I know that in the past one month, he has appointed over 200 people as senior special assistants on social media and the rest of them. Those are not jobs.

“So, when you are talking about jobs, where are the jobs, who did you give them to? It is sad when the government that should be accurate with fact begins to feed our agencies with bogus statistics in an attempt to give an impression that we are doing well when we are not doing well,” he said.

On the issue of Obaseki’s disqualification from participating in the APC primary elections that produced Ize-Iyamu as the flag-bearer of the party for the poll due to academic discrepancies.

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“It is very ironic that someone who has no certificate can stand up and comment on someone whose certificate was issued by the premier university in Nigeria. That is a very sad situation that we have found ourselves in as a country.

“In 1976 when I gained admission into the University of Ibadan, there was no JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board); you could either go into the university through Prelim or through Direct Entry in your advanced level examination. I finished my O Level and my Advanced Level and it was As, so I gained admission into the University of Ibadan in 1976,” he said.

Speaking on his relationship with Oshiomhole during the debate, Obaseki said his blueprint was what Oshiomole had implemented in his first eight years as governor.

“Having left labour, Oshiomhole had no money and didn’t live in Edo state. Putting together some friends, he was able to prosecute his ambition and we supported him. I put together his plans for his administration and for eight years I worked pro bono to make him succeed.

“So, having worked closely with him, it was clear I could continue with the plan I had given him and that was why he was encouraged to support my coming in as governor,” he said.

But Ize-Iyamu swiftly reacted when he said from him inquiries, Obaseki only contributed N100,000 to the campaign funds of Oshiomhole.

“I am shocked to hear what Obaseki said. In that fundraising, N10 million was realised and I asked Oshiomhole what was Obaseki’s contribution and he said N100,000,” he said.

Obaseki is currently running for re-election on the platform of the PDP after being denied re-nomination by the APC arising from his fall out with Oshiomhole who was then the national chairman of the party.

Ize-Iyamu was a principal official of Oshiomhole’s government until he left the APC in 2016 and was nominated the PDP’s candidate but lost the election to Obaseki then of the APC.

However, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has also announced that the candidates would sign a peace accord on Tuesday.

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