More appointees of the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, have walked out on the government to pledge their loyalty to his arch political rival, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the September 19, 2020 governorship election. The latest are three Commissioners of the Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC), who on Monday dropped their resignation letters. The affected commissioners are Osamwonyi Atu, Emmanuel Odigie and Rilwanu Oshiomhole, who represented Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North Senatorial districts respectively on the board of the Commission.
Similarly, former aides of the governor and elected local government council officials who were allegedly illegally sacked or forced to resign after various acts of victimization by the government, have also met with Ize-Iyamu on Monday and declared their support for his ambition.
Giving reasons for their resignations in their separate letters dated July 27, 2020, Atu who hails from Orhionmwon in Edo South senatorial district said “I need to resign to take care of compelling family issues that need my immediate attention.” Odigie, on his part said he decided to leave because he was not prepared to follow the governor to the PDP. According to him “Following due consideration and wide consultations, I have resolved to resign as a member representing Edo Central Senatorial District in the EDSOGPADEC. The appointment was given to me based on my membership and commitment to the All Progressives Congress (APC). I have contested elections twice to the House of Representatives on the APC platform. As a party loyalist, and based on my principles, I strongly believe it will be unfair to cross over to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).” As for Rilwanu Oshiomhole, he said as a loyal party man, his resignation was to enable him join hands with the APC candidate in the September 19 governorship election.
Pledging his support for Ize-Iyamu, Odigie, accused the governor of being “dangerously over -ambitious,” describing his alleged repeated threats to ‘crush’ anyone not supportive of his personal political choice, and victimization of elected council officials who refused to join him in the PDP as “a vicious display of tyranny detrimental to growth and development”. He also dismissed as a ruse, and a deceitful plan designed only to obtain votes, the governor’s touted ‘Esan agenda’.
Regretting working for the governor, Atu lamented the lack of development in the region despite its status as a major oil-producer in the State while Rilwanu Oshiomhole criticized Obaseki’s castigation of individuals instead of focusing on governance and policies, stating that his administration had abandoned the people.
The sacked elected local council officials and former aides gave similar reasons for their exit from government all, alleging “tyranny and the oppressive treatment meted on them as punishment for refusing to join the Governor’s late-hour defection to the PDP”.
Receiving the three ex-commissioners, Ize-Iyamu, described their courageous resignation as a “milestone in the journey to move Edo state forward, change the present deceitful government, and install a government that will truly represent the people.” He said the present situation in the state whereby people were abandoning the government in droves, as opposed to the familiar event of jostling for appointments, is an indication that the governor had failed and is set for an embarrassing defeat at the polls. In his words, “I salute the courage of these men who heeded the call of their conscience and placed their integrity over office to resign from a government that is insincere, fraudulent, and deceitful.”
“I thank Prince Emmanuel Odigie for the revelations he has made today, especially on the deceitful ‘Esan agenda’ that the incumbent is bandying. A governor that does not respect the Esan people or empower them, is that the Governor who will hand over power to them? I know that in their usual practice of castigating and smearing the image of people not supportive of their plan to foist themselves on the State for another term, the State Government will likely commence the spread of baseless reports claiming that these men were induced to make the decision they made.
“But as they can testify to everyone here, this is the first time I am meeting with them in a long while. Their decision to resign was made on their own accord based on their integrity and unwillingness to be a part of a government without profitable plans for their people.” Ize-Iyamu promised to work with the former Commissioners as they, on their part, also vowed to reveal more facts about the fraudulent ways of the incumbent Governor.
Addressing the allegedly victimized aides and elected council officials, Ize-Iyamu berated the governor for his perceived “intolerance and disregard” of the people’s protected rights and freedom to make a political choice, including that of a party.
He assured them that his team had already put plans in motion to drag the governor to court to challenge his “illegal denial of due entitlements and other emoluments to elected local council officials who insist on maintaining their membership of the All Progressives Congress”. According to him, “I will advise the Governor to remember that there is life after politics. Harassing people and denying them what is due to them by law because they exercised their right of association is an act of tyranny that is outside the laws of the State.
“In a democracy, support is earned through successful persuasion, not force or intimidation. I commend all of you here today for your courage and insistence on your conscience. We will provide legal representation to challenge all the illegalities you have suffered in court and will do everything within our powers to ensure that the harassment from the governor and his agents is brought to an end.”
Leader of the Uhunmwode local government council legislative arm, and also the spokesperson of the grassroots politicians, Osarobo Ogbegiere, and the Vice-Chairman of Orhiomwon Local Government Council, Godwin Eleduwa, praised Ize-Iyamu for his leadership and expressed confidence that he would emerge victorious on September 19.
However reacting to the resignation of the EDSOGPADEC Commissioners, the state government, in a statement attempted to correct the impression that they were members of the cabinet. A statement by the special adviser to the governor on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said “This is to clarify that the resigned Board members of the Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC) are not members of the Edo State Cabinet.
“This clarification has become necessary, in order to correct the erroneous impression in the public domain that members of EDSOGPADEC (an agency of government) Board are civil commissioners of the Edo State Government. Osagie said “Though these board members are sometimes referred to as commissioners, a title they share with their counterparts on the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), they are however not civil commissioners of the Edo State Government that assist with the day-to-day running of the government”.
Recall that barely three days ago, the state commissioner for environment and sustainability, Omua Oni-Okpaku, resigned her appointment as a member of the state executive council. In the last three months, other appointees like former Chief of Staff, Taiwo Akerele and erstwhile Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Paul Ohonbamu had left the government.