11th May, 2012
As the July 14, 2012 date for the Edo State governorship election draws near, the democratic space in the state has become tension-soaked and bloody.
This is as the main contenders, PDP’s Major General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere (retd), a former Director, Nigerian Army Finance Corps and the incumbent, ACN’s Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, fine-tune their strategies for their campaign.
The road to the d-day seems long, tortuous and bumpy. Beside the verbal attacks associated with the campaigns, the apparent violent twist to the whole enterprise is dangerously pushing the state to an edge.
The situation was even made worst by the accusations and counter-accusations that have followed recent developments between the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state.
Edo State PDP described the accusation by Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his campaign organisation that the party was the mastermind of last Friday’s killing of his principal private secretary, Comrade Oyerinde Olaitan, and the accident involving his convoy in which three journalists died as reckless, wicked and criminal.
Responding to the accusation while addressing journalists at the state secretariat of the PDP in Benin City, the state chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, added that the allegation was ridiculous, vexatious, unfounded.
Orbih said the allegation by Oshiomhole, his ruling ACN and his surrogates was a dubious attempt to incite the people against the PDP, and cause unwarranted attacks on the party and its leaders because the governor was aware of the defeat that awaited him at the poll.
He said a great number of the PDP leaders did not know the governor’s private secretary, saying that it was only at his death that they got to know from information already in the public domain that Olaitan was not from Edo State, might not have been a politician or a political analyst, and so might not have and could not have remembered having any dealings with him.
The Edo State PDP chairman called on the police to investigate the information that the driver and owner of the truck involved in the accident with the governor’s convoy were card-carrying members of the ACN and that the lorry even had Oshiomhole and ACN sticker on it.
Orbih said a responsible government would call for detailed investigation and wait for the outcome but that this was not the issue in the present cases, accusing Governor Oshiomhole of influencing police investigation by accusing Chief Tony Anenih and leadership of the PDP in the state.
He recalled that when a former chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Samson Ekhabafe, his son, driver and police orderly died in an auto crash, the party did not accuse anybody, as it took it purely as an accident.
Besides, Orbih also said when gunmen attacked the vehicle of a PDP chieftain in the state, Tes Sorae, and killed the wife, driver, police orderly and two others, the PDP did not accuse anybody as well, and wondered why the PDP should be the target and focus of Oshiomhole each time a misfortune occurred.
Meanwhile, Governor Oshiomhole and members of his party on Saturday defied heavy rain in Benin City, the state capital, to formally flag-off his re-election campaign ahead of the 14 July gubernatorial poll in the state.
The flag-off of the re-election campaign scheduled to hold penultimate Saturday was postponed, following the fatal automobile accident involving the governor’s convoy along Auchi-Afuze Road.
The exercise came under threat again on Friday on the heels of the murder of the principal private secretary to the Governor, Olaitan Oyerinde, with speculations that the Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation might, again, reschedule it.
Oshiomhole, while addressing the rally, said the “servant has come to report to his masters,” informing them that his administration has completed 36 roads while 28 others were under construction in the course of this his first tenure of four years in office.
He urged them to ignore the slogan that says that PDP in Edo State is now a new party, saying nothing had changed in the PDP.
Oshiomhole observed that his promise in 2006 to get politics in Edo State right had been achieved and promised unparalleled development for the people of the state if he was re-elected.
While also promising to transform Benin City to a level that its development would be irreversible, Oshiomhole said: “In every part of the state, we have evidence of our presence. The challenge is on how we can consolidate on it.”