For the first time since the beginning of the politicking and electioneering process for the 2020 Edo State Governorship Election, the two major contenders in the poll met physically to share their vision with the people of the state.
The All Progressives Congress candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu; and the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, had earlier attended a virtual debate organised by the BBC Pidgin but the two juggernauts stood face-to-face before a live audience on Sunday evening during the Channels Television Edo Governorship Debate.
The debate organised by the television station and its partners comes about a week to the September 19, 2020 governorship election.
At the debate, the moderator, Seun Okinbaloye, asked the candidates their plans to revive the state economy, especially along the lines of job creation and industrialisation.
According to the moderator, the Human Development Index of the state in 2008 was 0.622 per cent and Edo State stands at 12th out of 36 states. Also, in 2019, Edo State has a poverty headcount level of sixth out of the 36 states of the federation.
Responding, 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.
But the APC candidate disagreed with the statistics stated by the governor, saying he falsified the data.
Ize-Iyamu said, “It is sad when the government that should be accurate with figures begins to falsify figures. If it is true that they have been able to have the number of jobs that the Edo State governor claims, their IGR (internally generated revenue) will not be where it is.
Obaseki in his reaction noted that the data he gave was verifiable and was based on a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, saying, “You can’t just come to a debate and mouth figures forgetting that everything you say can be googled.”
But Ize-Iyamu maintained, he thinks 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.
Obaseki had dumped the APC for the PDP following his disqualification from participating in the APC primary that produced Ize-Iyamu as the flag-bearer of the party for the poll. The APC had alleged that Obaseki’s disqualification bordered on discrepancies in his certificates.
Expectations rise daily as the D-day approaches as to who will win the September 19 poll in Edo.
Worried about the recent spate of violence in the state, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, held a peace meeting with the two candidates recently. The Independent National Electoral Commission also said the candidates would sign a peace accord on Tuesday.