*Ize-Iyamu: How Obaseki Squandered Edo Peoples N75bn On Unviable Projects…
*Obaseki: How I have Created both direct and indirect I57 Jobs In Edo State…
- Why Both Candidates Went Head-on Over Job Creation, Economy, State’s Rising Debt, Certificate Scandal, Past Records, Other Critical subject matters..
By Gbenga Abulude(Politics and General desk)
The candidates of the two leading political parties parities in the upcoming September 19 Edo State governorship poll-the All Progressives Congress(APC)’s Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his rival in the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki on Sunday went head-on in a fiery TV debate that has turned out to be quite historic as both iconic political combatants fired barrage of salvos at each other.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Pastor Ize-Iyamu while engaging in a hot exchange of words with his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival, Governor Obaseki on a plethora of issues during the debate programme organized by Channels Television and partners accused Obaseki of collecting over N75bn in debts with nothing to show for it in Edo State.
Ize-Iyamu queried: ” My contestant has collected over N75billion in debts. What did he do with them? All this promises remain unfulfilled despite the fact that he came in when there was high windfall in Edo.”
But Obaseki in his response fired back: ” The challenge my opponent and brother has is his thinking about government. That thinking is changing globally and it has to change locally.”
The debate between the two candidates who swapped sides to face each other once again after their 2016 epic battle at the poll, came just six days to the election in the South-South state as both rivals round off their weeks-long campaign around mid-week.
Responding to a question on Human Capacity Development and poverty level in the state, 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 countered the Governor in his response to the claim that he had created 157, 000 jobs from the inception of his admimistration. He said the fact was wrong, asking where are the jobs?
The APC governorship candidate stated that no teacher had been employed in the Primary education system, especially in the rural areas. He said: “I am sure he is not going to misplace the appointments he is making now as jobs. I know in the past one month, he has appointed over 2,000 people as SSA s on social media and the rest of them.
“Those are not jobs. When you say you have created jobs, in what area? We know for example that there is a glaring vacancy in the teaching profession and every school we went to, they practically had no teacher.
“It is sad that the government of Obaseki falsifies figures.What the government calls job are appointments;those are not jobs.Every school we campaigned at had virtually no teachers.When you are talking about jobs, who did you give jobs? We are doing badly.”
The Edo State Governor in his reaction noted that the data he gave was verifiable and based on a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics.
“You can’t just come to a debate and mouth figures forgetting that everything you say can be googled. When you talk in general terms, understand that people can just google and find out the facts,” Obaseki said.
But Ize-Iyamu maintained, “I think that in the past four years, the economy of Edo has been mismanaged, has been plundered and all the huge amounts that we receive at the inception of this administration has practically left our state without any serious project to show for it.
“We had the opportunity to diversify our economy. The governor made what I might call a very lame attempt and he failed completely and we are in a very sorry state. During Christmas for example, people were going to Abakaliki to bring rice, they were going to Kebbi to bring rice.”
Obaseki while speaking on the debt profile of the state accused his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, of putting the state in huge debts by borrowing recklessly.
He said, “Let me make some points very clear. What happened is that my predecessor in office borrowed recklessly and the Federal Government had to restructure all the debts that we have taken before I came into office.
“These included a whole series of bank borrowings, borrowing to pay salaries. So, the Federal Government restructured outstanding obligations to Edo State, to the tune of almost N30 billion. That was what was responsible for adding to the debt stock, not borrowings from this administration.”
Obaseki also stated that the immediate past administration owed contractors, amounting to about N70 billion, pegging the debt owed by the state at more than N120 billion.
Ize-Iyamu explained that his manifesto was based on a ‘SIMPLE’ agenda which acronym stands for Security, Infrastructure Development, Manpower Development, Public/Private Partnership, and Leadership by example, and Employment creation which is designed to address the current challenges facing Edo state which the government of Obaseki has failed to address.
The APC candidate said his PDP rival tend to forget that he(Obaseki) was not just part and parcel of the last government which he now tries to disparage but a major player among the team.
The gubernatorial candidates also used the opportunity to clarify issues bordering on their educational qualifications, background, certificates and conducts in the universities they attended.
Recall Obaseki joined the PDP following his disqualification from APC governorship primary race. The party had cited discrepancies in his credentials as reason for disqualifying him.
While addressing issues about his certificate, Obaseki said: “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; 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?
“It is very sad that in a country like Nigeria, some people who do not have the qualifications, have the effrontery to challenge the qualifications of those who went to proper schools. It is sad.”
Ize-Iyamu fired back, saying, “We are not doubting you going to the university, that is not the issue. The issue is, you failed by own records, you failed school cert, you had three credits, no English, no Maths, even to enter A Level would have been difficult. And if you got A Level, why is it that you’ve not been able to present the A Level, where is the result? That is a moral question. A lot of people are looking up to you as a governor and as a leader.
“The question is that you failed your A Level and that is why you were disqualified and your disqualification arose from information from the PDP, which your party now, provided. Because the PDP, when I was contesting against you (in 2016) said you have no results. Why have you not answered the question? Where are your results?”
Also the APC candidate while commenting on an alleged acid pouring incident by a fellow student that reportedly happened when he was an undergraduate at the University of Benin has this to say:
“I graduated from the University of Benin. I was very active in the students’ union and my records are clear. People have alleged that when you were in school, you did that but I think they should go to the university authorities and find out exactly what was the offence. If you do something criminal, the university cannot even handle it. And I am proud that throughout my stay, I was not engaged in any criminal matter.”