A week to the Edo State governorship election, the Peoples Democratic Party and the Action Congress of Nigeria are still at loggerheads.
A national leader of the PDP, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, in an interview with journalists in Benin, said that the party was confident of victory.
But Edo ACN chairman, Thomas Okosun, countered Ogbemudia, saying his party would not allow the PDP to rig on Saturday.
Ogbemudia, during a recent reconciliation meeting of PDP members at his Benin residence, had outlined how the party’s candidate, Charles Airhiavbere, would emerge as the next governor of the state.
He said, “A research has been carried out in the past two weeks, which revealed that the PDP will garner 25 per cent of votes from Edo North, where Oshiomhole is from, 70 per cent from Edo Central, Chief Tony Anenih’s area, and will win Edo South by 60 per cent.”
He, however, admitted that it would not be easy to defeat the incumbent, saying, “Not only is the governor intelligent, he has a very high IQ (Intelligent Quotient), and he is loved by the people.”
Edo South Senatorial District, with seven local government areas, has the highest voter population, doubling that of any of the other two districts.
Edo North, Oshiomhole’s home zone, has six LGs and Edo Central, the supposed stronghold of another PDP leader, Anenih.
Okosun told SATURDAY PUNCH that his party would check the PDP, which he said was banking on rigging.
He said, “They have also been indulging in other acts: sponsoring violence and buying voter cards from prospective voters in the state. All these things are the antics of a desperate party, but the people of Edo are now wiser and cannot be hoodwinked.
“They will fail because all their evil plans will be checkmated. The people will monitor their votes right from the polling booth to the state INEC head office.
“The good works of the ACN under the comrade governor is for us, just as he has been highlighting at our rallies across the state, we cannot allow the tide of development to be reversed in Edo. The people will vote ACN, and are ready to defend their votes.”
Also, the Director of Media and Publicity of the Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation, Kassim Afegbua, dismissed the PDP’s claim that it would win the election.
He said, “The PDP is lazy about campaigns. It is relying on the use of imported thugs and touts into Edo State.
“They will be shocked to find that the ruling party in the state has tremendous goodwill to checkmate all their shenanigans.”
Calling for the observance of the principle of one man, one vote, President Goodluck Jonathan had said that ballot box stuffing, falsification of election results and violence would not be tolerated during the poll.
He said heads of the country’s security outfits, including the Army, Police and the State Security Service, had indicated their readiness for the election.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission says it has deployed 8,842 personnel for the election.
It said seven candidates would contest the election scheduled for July 14, 2012.
They are Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole (ACN), Solomon Edehiri (All Nigeria Peoples Party), Izevbuwa Roland (Congress for Progressive Change), Andrew Igwemoh (Labour Party), Paul Orumwense (National Conscience Party), Charles Airhiarbere (PDP) and Frank Ukonga (Social Democratic Mega Party). The commission’s Director (Public Affairs), Mr. Emmanuel Umenger, said there were 2,627 polling units in the state, adding that INEC would be “deploying 8,842 personnel to conduct the election.”
According to him, 1,555,776 registered voters are to take part in the election.
The state REC, Kassim Gaidam, during a workshop for some of the participating officials, gave an assurance of early distribution of materials on the election day.
The state INEC office, however, refused to give information on the amount it would spend on the election.
When contacted, INEC spokesperson, Mrs. Priscilla Imodu-Sule, said, “I am not aware of how much has been earmarked for the conduct of the election.”