Guber Re-run: Aspirants Engage in Debate…. As Police Flood Delta
Five of the fourteen candidates in the Delta State governorship re-run election of January 6, took their turn in unraveling their manifestoes to Deltans during the 'Channels Governorship Debate' in Asaba. Most expected candidates in the debate, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege of Redemption Party of Nigeria (RPN) shunned the debate which they claimed was a charade arranged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led government. The gubernatorial aspirant of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Great Ogboru, sent a letter to the panel that he would not participate in the debate.
Other candidates, including Barr. Donald Chukwumeka (Justice Party -JP) were disallowed from participating in the debate organized by Channels Television in conjunction with the Delta state government. Aspirants who participated in the live debate were the erstwhile governor of Delta state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (PDP), Onokpite Ogbe of the Citizens Popular Party (CPP); Mrs. Veronica Bamuza-Mutu, All Nigerian Peoples' Party (ANPP); Abel Edijala, Labour Party (LP) and Peter Oghenevwogaga Osalor, Accord Party (AP). The debate, which involved questions from journalists and some members of the audience, dwelt on the candidates' manifestoes, infrastructural and economic development of the state, and security.
The candidates took turns to answer questions on myriad of issues if they are elected governor of the state.
'This is a year we are going to have tremendous change in the history of our state. What Labour stands for is welfarism. We need a welfarist, capitalist government that has the peculiarities of a welfarist state,' said Mr. Edijala.
In his speech, the CPP candidate, Onokpite Ogbe, who spoke with an American accent, maintained that his aspirations would be focused on youth development.
'I'm running the race because of you guys. My people have been suffering since 1999 and that's why I'm running this race. To assist my people. If elected governor, I'm gonna work hard for the people. I'm gonna focus on health, schools, and I'm gonna work with local government chairmen,' Mr. Ogbe said.
On his part, Mr. Uduaghan stated that his development agenda would be two-pronged.
'When you are talking of infrastructural development, there are two of them - the ones that will attract investment like ICT, power, and industries.
'Another is social development, like schools and hospitals. The things that people need on a daily basis,' said Mr. Uduaghan.
The LP candidate, Mr. Edijala, blamed the poor state of infrastructures in the state on shoddy jobs executed by low rate contractors.
'PDP has been on infrastructures in the state for 12 years. World certified professionals have not been engaged and sub standard jobs are being done all over,' he said.
As an oil producing state, some of the aspirants admitted that the state should have no business with epileptic power supply.
Mr. Edijala questioned the rationale behind the state government's massive investment into generating power only to transfer it to the national grid.
'Recently, we have spent N29 billion to transfer electricity to the national grid. We have to fight as a state to ensure that the reforms in the power sector are holistically reviewed,' he said.
Sourcing for alternative avenues of power generation, according to Mrs. Bamuza-Mutu, is the panacea for stable power in the state.
'I'll look into other areas that generate power: gas flares, solar plants, and gas turbine. But first of all, we should state that Delta will generate power independent of the federal government,' she said.
However, the CPP candidate maintained that power is a federal affair and he would simply work the federal government in that regard.
'I can't say a lot about power right now until when I get into the seat,' said Mr. Ogbe.
Mr. Uduaghan promised to complete the ongoing Delta Power Project.
The debate also touched on other issues such as health, security, and wealth creation.
While the AP, ANPP, and PDP candidates promised to create agro based economies, the candidate for the CPP said he would invite his friends from all over the world to help diversify the state's economy.
On the issue of security, the LP candidate promised to borrow a leaf from Lagos State by partnering with the police.
'We have to do identification of Delta citizens. A lot of people come from outside to commit crimes. We are going to identify every Deltan, and if possible, tag them. The technology is already there,' he said.
The ANPP candidate said that job creation, especially in rural areas, is the way out of security problems in the state.
While the AP candidate promised to give the youth 'hope', the CPP candidate said he'd work with police officers and local government chairmen.
The two-hour debate ended with handshakes and hugs between the participating gubernatorial candidates.
INEC cautions candidates
Meanwhile INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Gabriel Ogbudu-Ada has at a meeting with all candidates participating in the governorship re-run election in Delta state not to engage in violent activities during the election as he described the large presence of security agents across as a testimony that ballot snatchers and stuffers would have it difficult. 'A lot of them (policemen) were brought in from various states to police the election. What remains is for you to warn party supporters to restrain from snatching or stuffing our boxes. If they try it, they will see the difference. 'If you want to rule people, if you want to rule Delta state, then you must be of good conduct in this election. Indiscipline will not be tolerated I warn you.
'The DIG (Deputy Inspector-General of Police) from Abuja is here, the AIG (Assistant Inspector-General of Police) in charge of Zone 5 has been deployed, so that we can have a free, fair and credible election.' Ogbudu-Ada, however, disclosed that 1,542,044 million voters have been accredited for the 3,625 polling units and 270 registration centres in the 25 Local Government Areas of the state. He declared that the results will be announced at the polling units, maintaining that "before collation starts here, the results would have be announced and pasted at the polling units as public property. With this, there will be no doubt that a winner and the losers will emerge."
Police assures of security
Police High Command in Abuja has ordered the deployment of 22, 400 Police officers in the state as Deputy Inspector General in charge of Operations at the force headquarters, DIG Abubakar Audu, has relocated to Asaba to coordinate security operations during the elections. Police source said that the deployment of the officers to be made up of Mobile Police squadrons, bomb disposal units, anti-terrorists units, specially trained police dogs unit as policemen stationed in Delta State, are expected to be complemented by reinforcements from neighbouring states like Edo, Anambra and Kogi states.