Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, has accused Godwin Obaseki, his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, of running away from a debate organised by Arise Television in Benin City ahead of Saturday’s election.
Mr Ize-Iyamu was said to have turned up for the interview while his rival in the election, Mr Obaseki did not show up.
This is coming three days after Sunday’s debate on Channels Television, where both candidates debated on issues ranging from economy to education, security, health, and agriculture, among others.
Following Mr Obaseki’s no show, John Mayaki, chairperson of Edo APC’s media campaign council, accused him of running away from the debate, saying Ize-Iyamu was always ready to serve no matter the obstacles, without giving excuses.
Mr Mayaki said, “This is the third time that Obaseki will flee from a debate. What is he running away from? From accountability and transparency? This tells you that the Channels TV debate was arranged. Sadly, someone that campaigned on accountability and said Edo would be the envy of the western world in terms of transparency is now running away from giving an account of what he has done and what he hopes to do.
“With this dodgy attitude of Obaseki, Edo people cannot have confidence in him. He has consistently failed promises made to workers, traders, and farmers in Edo State. Now, he has taken his unreliability to the media three times, and the one time he appeared in the media, he knows how much he spent to present a good image. No one trusts him.
But Chris Nehikhare, state publicity secretary of the PDP, said the programme, which was initially tagged a conversation, was on Wednesday changed to a debate, which was not what Mr Obaseki had planned for.
Mr Nehikhare said, “We are compelled to debunk the falsehood pushed out this morning by the propagandists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that Godwin Obaseki shunned a scheduled debate organised by the Arise TV for him and the governorship candidate of the APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
“This is a lie from the pit of hell. The true story is that organisers invited Godwin Obaseki to a dialogue/conversation on the Arise TV network on the September 19 Edo State governorship election. In his usual manner, the governor posted the scheduled event on his social media platforms.
“To demonstrate his willingness to attend the event, Obaseki listed the event as number one on his schedule for Wednesday, September 16. The governor was preparing to depart for the venue of the programme early this morning when information came that the event was no longer a conversation but a debate.
“The banner headline on the invitation card to the event reads, ‘Edo Governorship: The Conversation’. This information is available online and can be verified. How a conversation turned to a debate is a question only organisers of the event can explain.
“In line with his policy that things should be done properly and in good faith, Governor Obaseki decided not to be part of the sudden arrangement. Recall that Governor Obaseki had last week attended a conversation hosted by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) on the Edo governorship election. He was preparing for a similar arrangement only to be ambushed by the organisers.”
Mr Nehikhare said the people who watched the Channels Television debate have since passed their valued judgement on the performance of the two governorship candidates and the result was already in the public domain.
“After attending the debate organised by the Channels TV on Sunday, Governor Obaseki sees no need to engage in another round of debate with the APC governorship candidate.”
He said it was unfortunate that those who declared that Mr Obaseki avoided a debate with a person he roundly floored only three days ago do not know the difference between a conversation and a debate.