The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Edo State, and the major opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, are throwing verbal punches over the latter’s call for the declaration of a state of emergency in the state over security concerns and other governance issues.
The APC had on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgent national importance, declare a state of emergency in the state over what it alleged as “collapse of governance”, one year after the Godwin Obaseki-led PDP government assumed office for a second term of four years.
The party insisted that Obaseki could no longer secure the lives and properties of Edo citizens, contrary to his oath of office and had mortgaged the future of the State with his penchant for clandestine borrowing and a blatant disregard for the rule of law and court orders except those in his favour.
Addressing a press conference at the party’s secretariat in Benin, the state chairman of the party, David Imuse, a medical doctor and retired army colonel, said the call became imperative given the fact that Governor Obaseki “has emasculated the judiciary, crippled the legislature, and personalised the executive branch”. He accused the governor of acting as “the Sole Administrator of Edo State” where “his word is law; he is the lawmaker, the judge, and the prison put together”.
The party held that Obaseki’s “flagrant abuse of power is not provided for anywhere in the 1999 Constitution as amended”.
But in a swift reaction, the state government lampooned the APC for daring to call for a state of emergency in the state, when it superintends over a federal government under whose watch Nigerians are slaughtered and maimed on a daily basis all across Nigeria.
The state APC chairman had noted that though elected democratically, Governor Obaseki “is actually functioning as the Sole Administrator of Edo State”. It lamented that over a year into Obaseki’s second term, “Edo is the only state in Nigeria today without a functional Legislature” positing that “What is happening with the 10 PDP jokers who gather regularly at Governor Obaseki’s office is comical”.
According to the APC, “What Obaseki is practicing in Edo today is a democratic taboo. And when a taboo is allowed to exist for too long, it becomes a tradition. If this taboo is allowed to be exported to other States, using Obaseki as a reference, it will endanger our democratic culture. Edo is in serious trouble.
“Mr Obaseki’s flagrant abuse of power is not provided for anywhere in the 1999 Constitution as amended. Meanwhile, this Constitution, which our country, Nigeria, is still operating, remains the grundnorm. So, we wonder where Mr. Obaseki is deriving his powers from, as there is no section in the Constitution either, for a Maximum Ruler or Sole Administrator as we presently have in Edo”.
The party noted that “For almost one-year, local government administration in Edo State has been thrown into a coma, with the governor’s decision not to conduct elections for chairmen and councilors. For a governor who daily interfered with the State’s local government council’s statutory allocations, is it not self-indictment to say that unless he is able to clear the N60 billion debt they owe, he cannot conduct LG elections?
Imuse said “As I speak right now, Mr. Obaseki is demolishing the Central Hospital, Benin City, with a view to replacing it with a motor park. The government says it has no plans for such demolition two months ago, (October) but if you go to Sapele Road by the Hospital this minute, you will see what I am talking about. We know the demolition is imminent and we call on Mr. Obaseki to stop or be ready for the consequences”.
The APC alleged that “The only public library in Edo State where children of ordinary Edo men / women go to read to develop themselves, has been demolished and the land sold to Obaseki’s cronies to build a Supermarket”.
The APC chairman further accused the governor of having also brought untold agony and pain to many as, “Individual homes/private properties are being demolished and certificates of occupancy of prominent Edo indigenes perceived as political adversaries are being revoked” uncontrollably.
He said “many people in Edo State are worried with the approach of Mr. Obaseki to the lingering slide of governance and brutal abuse of the Constitution” stressing that “It is in the light of the precarious situation Edo State has found itself under Governor Obaseki, which is almost akin to anarchy, that the All-Progressives Congress, APC is calling on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Edo”.
Reiterating that Obaseki would rather prefer to be a sole administrator of Edo State rather than a democratically-elected governor, the APC expressed concern that “with a state of emergency, his present disposition towards governance will be legitimised. He would not need a legislature, cabinet or even local government chairmen to function”.
But joining issues with the APC, Andrew Adaze Emwanta, state communication and orientation commissioner, asserted that as of today, “Edo is perhaps the most peaceful place to live in the entire country with incidences of crime and criminality in the state over the last three months nearing almost zero and the APC dares to call for a state of emergency in the state, when it superintends over a federal government under which Nigerian lives are slaughtered and maimed on a daily basis all across Nigeria”.
According to Emwanta, “Can Edo APC not see that their call for a state of emergency should be more appropriately directed to a federal government, which they lead, that has reduced the value of Nigerian lives to near nothing?
“In Nigeria today, under the leadership of the APC, which their shameless and ragtag Executive Committee (EXCO) in Edo who addressed the press conference represent, you cannot travel from Abuja to Kaduna; Abuja to Keffi; or from Abuja to Minna, by road, without a seventy percent chance of being attacked, kidnapped or killed by bandits. And yet these palace jesters gather in the safety of Benin City, provided by the excellent leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki, and mouth non-existent chaos.
The commissioner was miffed that the APC wanted a state of emergency declared in a state that did not only pay salaries and pensions of state government workers by December 14, but also released funds to the local governments to ensure that their employees were also paid salaries in time for the yuletide celebrations, while, according to him, the APC-led Federal Government was struggling to meet their FAAC obligations for the end of year.
He said the government “was not surprised by this outburst as it is their stock in trade. Hence, we advise the public to be wary of the antics of the APC, their stale lies, and baseless propaganda”.
Emwanta assured that “The PDP-led government in Edo State has and will continue to put the interest of the people over and above the interest of all others” adding that “Our programmes, reforms, and initiatives are targeted at improving the quality of life and placing them at the centre of our politics”.
He insisted that the vituperations of APC and their “minions” would never in any way derail the sacred mandate freely given the governor by the majority of Edo people in September last year.
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