Politics

Edo 2020: Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu Spar In Heated Governorship Debate

Edo State Governor and governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Godwin Obaseki and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, locked horns on Sunday in a governorship debate.

The debate, organised by Channels Television and its partners, was moderated by TV host, Seun Okinbaloye, and broadcast live.

The heated debate featured claims and counter-claims between both candidates.

The moderator quizzed the candidates on their plans to revive the state economy, especially along the lines of job creation and industrialisation.

He noted that the Human Development Index of the state in 2008 was 0.622 per cent and Edo State stood at 12th out of 36 states. Also, in 2019, Edo State had a poverty headcount level of sixth out of the 36 states of the federation.

In his response, Obaseki said, “In terms of human capacity and employment, that is one area we believe we have accomplished quite a lot. 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 directed 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 role is creating an enabling environment for people to come and invest so that the economy can thrive.”

But Ize-Iyamu disagreed with the numbers, accusing the governor of falsifying data.

“Well, it is sad when the government that should be accurate with figures begins to falsify figures. If it is true that we have been able to have the number of jobs that the Edo State governor claims, our IGR (internally generated revenue) will not be where it is; there will be a significant leap but I can tell you, and they know, it has stagnated.

“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 SSAs (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 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,” Ize-Iyamu said.

Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki at the debate (Photo: Channels Television)

The PDP candidate responded that the data he gave is verifiable and based on a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

His opponent maintained that the state’s economy had been poorly managed in the past four years.

Recall that Obaseki resigned his membership of the APC in June to join the PDP following his disqualification from the participating in the APC primary election. The APC based its decision on discrepancies in governor’s certificates.

Ize-Iyamu asked the PDP candidate to explain how he got admission into the university without having Ordinary level (O’level) credits in English Language and Mathematics.

Responding, Obaseki said, “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.

“I don’t know what has happened but for the University of Ibadan, the standard is still very high and they have come out to say that I graduated from that university. How else do you want to make that clear?”

Ize-Iyamu had also been accused of pouring acid on a fellow student when he was an undergraduate at the University of Benin. He was also allegedly expelled from the university.

Asked to clear the air on the issue, the APC candidate said he graduated from UNIBEN, stressing that he was not involved in any criminal matter as an undergraduate.

“I was very active in the students’ union and my records are clear. People have alleged that when I was in school, I did that but I think they should go to the university authorities and find out exactly what was the offence. If you do something very criminal, the university cannot even handle it. And I am proud that throughout my stay, I was not engaged in any criminal matter,” he added.

Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, and 12 other candidates will slug it out in the September 19, 2020, governorship election.

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