As political parties intensify their campaigns ahead of Saturday March 9 House of Assembly election in Edo State, the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, says it is saddened by unfolding developments in the polity.
The PDP said it was not surprised that the All Progressives Congress, APC had taken “its intimidation, harassment, blackmail, connivance and contrivance to an absurd level”.
The PDP defeated the ruling party in the state with over 7,000 votes in penultimate Saturday’s presidential election. The opposition party also won two out of the three senatorial seats, and four out of the nine Federal constituency seats in the House of Representatives. The national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole is from Edo State.
In a press statement, state publicity secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, said the APC’s target this time, are the hardworking traders in the various markets in Benin metropolis, especially New Benin, Oba Etinosa, and Uwa Markets, amongst others. Nehikhare alleged that “after financially inducing the “Iye-Eki”, (market women leader) market leaders, they deployed them to these markets to threaten, intimidate and harass. The market women are being forced and blackmailed to join an “Apology March” to government house scheduled for Tuesday, March 5,
Describing threatening a man’s means of financial survival for political compliance as “reprehensible, irresponsible, and condemnable” the PDP opined that “It exposes this government and its party, APC, as hollow, wicked and devilish! Just like their counterpart in Lagos, they are tyrannical, despotic and anti-democratic”. Urging the market women to resist any form of bullying assuring that the threat is not actionable, Nehikhare asserted that “It is a ruse! They have no powers to take your stalls talk less of demolish the market as they are boasting they would. You must stand up to the bullies. APC cannot bully Edo people! Give them a bloody nose again on March 9, 2019. Only then will they show respect to you.” The PDP said it was clear Edo people had rejected the policy and style of the ruling party having allegedly failed in the nearly 12 uninterrupted years they have been in government in the state.
The party therefore passionately appealed to the traders to extend the same support they gave to its presidential and National Assembly candidates and vote massively for PDP House of Assembly candidates, stressing that their support would guarantee quality representation and robust debates in the assembly.
“This is a golden opportunity to wake Edo State from its deep legislative slumber and make the state work again. We cannot reward and re-enforce failure!”, said the PDP publicity scribe.
The ruling party had a few days ago, expressed its intention to retain its influence in the House of Assembly by winning all, or most of the seats, to sustain the programmes and policies of the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration. Deputy Governor of the state, Philip Shaibu, said this at a rally to celebrate Buhari’s re-election victory. Shaibu urged Edo people to come out en mass this Saturday, to vote for candidates of the APC “to help the government consolidate on its achievements by passing bills that would enable us accomplish more for all Edo people and residents.” He cited the cooperation of the current assembly with the executive arm of government, which he said has led to progress and development in the state.
Debunking PDP’s allegation of intimidation and harassment of market women and traders, the government said the opposition party’s publicity secretary must be suffering from “horrific hallucination” to imagine that an administration that had prioritised the wellbeing of its industrious market women and other business owners through several reforms of trade practices in the state, would hurt their interest. “It is still lost on PDP that they lost the war in the presidential and National Assembly elections held on Saturday February 23. They have depended on lies for decades as a strategy for accessing power and swindling people’s mandates, but Edo people and Nigerians now know them for what they truly are, mandate swindlers!”, the APC fired back at the PDP.
In its response signed by Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy, the government said, “just like the several lies and falsehoods which Chris Nehikhare is notorious for propagating, the allegation of threat to market women is completely false, and the creation of Edo PDP”. According to Osagie, “Nehikhare must think very little of our illustrious women, mothers and sisters, who toil night and day to keep food on the table of most families in our state. Some of these women may not have obtained degrees from universities within or outside Nigeria, but clearly, they are more intelligent than Nehikhare. For example, they know who has cared for them the most; sanitising revenue collection in the markets, rebuilding markets raised by fire incidents, and appointing a market woman as a member of the board of the State Universal Basic Education Board, to represent the interest of our market women and mothers on the SUBEB board.” Cautioning Nehikhare not to drag the market women into his “hallucinations”, Osagie told him to “try another lie, as this one has failed woefully like the others before it”.