By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised the alarm over alleged plans by the Edo State Government to hijack the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Benin .
The party warned that the move will erode the independence of the Commission ahead of the State Governorship election billed for September 2020.
In a statement by the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Chris Nehikhare, the PDP observed that in less than six months, INEC will be conducting a Gubernatorial election whereby the All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Edo state, led by Governor Obaseki will be a key contestant.
The party therefore demanded for an immediate investigation and empanelling of an independent judicial commission of inquiry into the circumstances that have led the State Government decision to offer to renovate/reconstruct the INEC office building.
“This ungodly alliance and collaboration was discovered when the tender for this contract was advertised in a national Daily of Monday, April 27, 2020 by the Edo State Government, through the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development”, Edo PDP said.
According to Nehikhare, Edo PDP is saddened and dismayed that Governor Obaseki’s government has now resorted to “bribery” in an attempt to get a second term at all cost.
According to the party, “The situation is yet another manifestation of leadership failure and insensitivity of the Governor Obaseki-led APC administration to the plight of Edo people at critical moments.
“It is unacceptable for a government that is struggling with providing palliatives for its citizens, helping businesses stay afloat and running an efficient and effective government, to continually divert state resources to the detriment of its people.”
Consequently, “Edo PDP condemns unequivocally, the attempt by Governor Obaseki to bribe, compromise, coarse, intimidate, corrupt and manipulate INEC by the renovation or construction of its office building in Benin City.
“It is even more ludicrous for Governor Obaseki to ignore the optics of such a venture. Such anti-people antic from government is symptomatic of a leadership that has not only lost focus, but has lost touch and, certainly, the confidence of the people he was elected to serve.
“Our party holds that Governor Obaseki is desperate to get a second term and as such has thrown caution to the wind by pursing extraneous issues that have no direct benefits on the lives of the people.
“INEC as an independent body, should not allow itself to be compromised by accepting gifts from desperate state governments so close to elections. However, from our investigation, it was discovered that INEC doesn’t have an office in the address advertised.
“This is just another avenue to fleece our state treasury. This APC administration is reputed to be a haven of corrupt individuals, treasury looters, certificate forgers and election riggers.
On this light, the APC said the independent judicial commission of inquiry must ascertain: “Who approached who?, Was it EDSG or was it INEC, What demands were made?, What promises were extracted?
“Our primary focus as a party remains the welfare of our citizens as they are passing through a very difficult and harrowing experience as Edo State government has failed to reach the most vulnerable Edolites whose survival directly depends on daily incomes in the markets, shops and streets.
“The action of the State Government and INEC is unfortunate, reprehensible, treacherous and scandalous,” the statement said.