Obaseki denies owing college of education workers, says protests politically motivated
The political crisis in Edo State is far from over as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) disagreed over looming violence in the state as the September 19 governorship election draws nearer.
Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, alleged that former National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole and Captain Hosa Okunbo were sponsoring thugs to disrupt the forthcoming polls.
In a statement in Benin City yesterday, he said Oshiomhole, Okunbo and their allies have resorted to violence after realising that they would not win the governorship election in a fair contest.
He said, “Oshiomhole and Okunbo, held a meeting on July 19, 2020, where they perfected plans to recruit thugs to disrupt the September 19 governorship election, having discovered that they cannot win the election in a fair contest.
“They met with the thugs at Okunbo’s GRA, Benin City residence, gave them targets and paid them in advance to cause trouble and undermine the will of Edo people during the elections.”
But in a swift reaction, a factional publicity secretary of APC, Chris Azebamwan, accused the PDP and the Obaseki-led government of recruiting cult groups ahead of the poll to cause mayhem in the state.
“Edo State already has cause for worry, because the violence and chaos have already begun. In a bid to show superiority and prove their mettle, the cult groups have started acquiring weapons and initiating new members,” he said.
Osagie, however, insisted that Okunbo was a key figure in the gang-up to take Edo backwards, adding, “He is actively supporting and sponsoring the warlords, thugs and ill-intentioned politicians, who are scheming to dislodge Governor Obaseki so they could have free access to the state’s resources.
Besides, the Edo State Concerned Farmers Association in Abuja protested against Governor Obaseki’s alleged misuse of N75b agricultural loans. Led by Afeiye Muhammed, the group alleged that Obaseki and his cronies procured the loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the World Bank.
In a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, copies of which were sent to Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker, House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, chairmen of EFCC, ICPC and Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, they claimed that none of their members got the loan in spite of applying since 2017.
“In 2017 we participated in the Agripreneur programme in Sobe, Owan West Council Area, where we planted and harvested maize, but since the harvest three years ago, we are yet to receive proceeds from the sale of our maize by the state government and SARO Agro Sciences Limited,” the petition reads.
Meanwhile, workers of the Edo State College of Education, Ekiadolor, demonstrated on the streets of Benin City demanding payment of several months of outstanding salaries.
The state government insisted that the protests by the farmers and workers of the College of Education were politically motivated, noting that the programme was on course and benefiting genuine farmers for who it was meant, while the workers were being paid even while they were not working.
Commissioner for Education, Jimoh Ijegbai, denied the claims, saying the arrears owed by the previous administration have been cleared, just as Osagie described the protests, as an orchestrated attempt by politicians to hoodwink and incite Edo people against the Obaseki-led administration with their frivolous allegations.