Edo Gov’ship And The Battle Of Manifestos

August 17, 2020

Beyond the political intrigues in the build-up to Edo State governorship election, MOSES ORJIME x-rays the governance agenda of the two leading parties and their candidates

While it seems like political theatrics have beclouded the real issues ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, the two leading candidates, Governor Godwin Obaseki of  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have their separate agenda on how the state should be managed.

Obaseki who is seeking a second term in office projects the “MEGA” agenda while Ize-Iyamu who has been seeking to have a taste of governorship power, has the “SIMPLE” agenda.

Their agenda, expectedly, gives insights into their policy direction, how they intend to govern the state in the next four years, and what they hope to achieve beyond that period.

Interestingly, both candidates have distinct profiles. Obaseki is a businessman and politician who holds post-graduate degrees in both Finance and International Business and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Stock Brokers, Nigeria. He also served as an executive board member of several private companies including Afrinvest.

On the other hand, Ize-Iyamu is a lawyer, pastor, politician, former chief of staff, and secretary to the Edo State government.

Nevertheless, Obaseki’s MEGA agenda centers on a 12-point programme which according to him, is a blueprint for Making Edo Great Again.

Giving insight on his plan for the state, he said his agenda is a development-oriented programme of progress for Edo State with an eye on the future and focuses on these key areas: Social Sector (Education, Healthcare System, Pension and Social Security, Housing, Lands, and Surveys); Critical Infrastructure and Energy; Economy and Industrialisation; Trade and Investment; Environment and Public Utilities.

Other areas covered by the governor’s agenda are Peace and Security, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Public Service, Public Finance and Public Revenue, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, Law, Judiciary and Legal Reforms, Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Arts and Culture as well as Transport.

In retrospect, Obaseki disclosed that six major points had held the pillars of his governance model, which include, Economic Revolution; Infrastructural Development; Institutional Reforms; Social Welfare Enhancement; Environmental Sustainability, and Arts, Culture, and Tourism.

Obaseki revealed that his MEGA Manifesto was his public declaration of policy for the progress and sustainable development of Edo State.

He said: “I am confident that my re-election for a second term as the executive governor of Edo State from 2020 to 2024 will consolidate the transformation of the state through policies, projects, and initiatives aimed at making Edo State an investment hub.

“This policy document is my present declaration to consolidate the foundation of my first term as Governor from 2016 to 2020 in providing leadership and vision for engagement and consensus building in planning, executing, and evaluating state development initiatives and their outcomes.

“We would ultimately create a system that would, at the end of eight years, imbue a strong, indelible Governance Culture that will stand the test of time and make our people proud of their state once more.

“In the last four years, we developed a fast-track approach in transforming Edo State through a robust template anchored on critical focus areas that outlined how we would make the lives of our people better and more fulfilling,” he said.

Underscoring his achievements to include several job creation, pension reform, infrastructural development, Obaseki explained that ‘Making Edo Great Again’ was a mass movement of the campaign for popular participation of the Edo people for development.

“We recognise that there are groups of people in society with differing views on subjects of importance to all citizens.

“The MEGA Movement supports tolerance for the expression of different points of view. Therefore, this is a clarion call to all groups, unions, and associations – students and youth organisations, business associations, labour unions, market associations, community groups, etc – in Edo State to join us in Making Edo Great Again.

“My Social Contract with Edo people is to deliver good governance in a manner that dignifies and liberates the Edo person. We have done that in the last four years, placing the state at the forefront of novelty and innovation in governance. The reforms we commenced four years ago must be sustained if we must truly liberate our people. This is why I present myself for re-election so that I will continue and consolidate what we started.

“My experience in politics, governance, and business is such that I prefer working and delivering infrastructural projects without prior fanfare. Hence, I have been tagged the ‘Wake and See Governor,” he said.

Aside from running a post-COVID-19 economy after the election, the governor promised to push for an economic stimulus package to resuscitate businesses, sustain livelihoods, and hold the economy together. He said it would help to support businesses with low-interest loan facilities; strengthening the productive sector by prioritising the Edo Production Hub Initiative and pursuing more impactful policies in the agricultural sector.

Going forward, Obaseki said that the past four years of his administration have witnessed foundational and fundamental reforms that his government has undertaken, adding that the next four years from 2020 to 2024 will be committed to the continuity of these policies and programmes.

He said: “My vision for Edo Project 2050 is to identify priority areas, set specific targets, and define strategies and policy measures required for the implementation of Short, Medium and Long-term Plans. With my career in Investment Banking, I will be able to outline the strategies required to ensure the availability of resources and capacities and citizenship participation in Edo Project 2050.

“The Edo Project 2050 has its agenda, with aspirations, goals, and priority areas. It is all about what the future holds for Edo State and the people. We have to embrace the future today for the progress and collective prosperity of our people. The need to envision a long-term 30-year plan is for sustainable economic growth and development, driven by Edo people who will become major players in our national economy.”

On his part, Ize-Iyamu has unveiled his agenda for the state tagged: ‘SIMPLE agenda,’ which he explained that every component of it creates room for employment generation.

From the document, S stands for Security and social welfare, I-Infrastructural development/Urban renewal, M-Manpower development and training, P-Public, Private, Partnership, L-Leadership by example, and E- employment creation and social empowerment scheme. (SIMPLE).

Ize-Iyamu explained that what motivated him to adopt the SIMPLE agenda was the manifesto of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).

He said: “When Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1978 formed the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), even though I was quite young, I was fascinated by the manifesto of his party. The four cardinal programmes of the UPN namely: free education, free health services, integrated rural development, and employment for all. It was very easy to understand as it was all-encompassing, and the manifesto alone made me pick an interest in the party and I became a member of the youth wing. From an early age, I appreciate the role of manifestoes in party formation and it was key in the choice of the party to belong.”

Disabusing the minds of those, who thought he’s desperate to be governor, the APC candidate said, “it’s sad and regrettable that my clarity of purpose is what shortsighted minds call desperation; it’s a definite statement of ambition.”

Explaining why he’s gunning for the topmost position in Edo State, Ize-Iyamu said, ”the first thing that came to my mind was what do I have to offer, how will Edo people understand what I want to offer because I have found so many chief executives, governors, political aspirants and candidates who run simply on verbal promises, nothing is documented and no clear programme they want to achieve when they win. Four years on when in office, they are trying to learn the ropes, they are trying to understand the system and then they will tell you that they need a second term to be able to do well.”

He, however, explained why he came up with the SIMPLE agenda, saying, “in coming up with this document, I told my team that the problem with some previous documents is that they are too voluminous, they are too technical and people find it difficult to understand. What attracted me to the UPN manifesto is that it was just four cardinal programmes and many years after, I can still recite it because it was easy.”

The governorship candidate of the APC gave the breakdown of the jobs to be created in each sector to include 2,000 direct jobs in electricity-dependent industries and assistance in creating over 1,000 new businesses in rural areas.

He said in water supply, not less than 10,000 new construction jobs would be created and over 3,000 jobs safeguarded over four years while over 3,000 new jobs would be generated from fire service and 5,000 existing jobs will be safeguarded in the sector.

The APC candidate posited that in the housing sector 10,000 additional new construction-related jobs were projected to be added to the state economy and 10,000 sustainable new jobs in the education sector.

But Ize-Iyamu’s manifesto became a subject of dispute when the convener, Midwest Movement, Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki, in a statement said that the SIMPLE Agenda was his campaign manifesto as an aspirant for the 2016 governorship election in Edo State.

He had said: “I state categorically that I would be commencing processes for retrieving my Intellectual Property, as it is obvious that the idea did not originate from those who are pushing on with it today.

“Every well-meaning, educated person should know what it takes to come up with an idea and articulate such in a manner that would make sense to people. I did that and today some people have plagiarized it and trying to swindle Edo people with it.”

Nevertheless, while Obaseki had put some parts of his agenda to test in the last four years that he has served as governor, Ize-Iyamu seeks an opportunity to put his own to the test.

As such, it is would seem more practical for Obaseki’s team to talk about what his administration had achieved so far even as Ize-Iyamu has the task of persuading voters that he could do better.

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