*President promises free and fair Edo guber poll
By Simon Ebegbulem, Gabriel Enogholase and Henry Umoru
AHEAD of the July 14, 2012 governorship election in Edo State, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday, vowed to ensure security, free and fair election in the state, just as he urged members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state to mobilize properly in order to ensure victory.
The President, who arrived the Benin Airport at about 11:45am, proceeded to the palace of the Benin monarch, Oba Erediauwa, with his entourage, including the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamangar Tukur; Chief Tony Anenih, the governorship candidate of the PDP, Gen.Charles Airhiavbere, and the state chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih.
However, there was a drama when the Oba requested to see only Jonathan, in his inner chambers when the PDP team came topay a courtesy call and they spoke for about five minutes. while the Iyasei of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe, received other members of the delegation. No reason was given why the Oba could not in the open, receive the high powered PDP delegation including its governorship candidate Airiavbere.
Contrary to insinuations, the PDP, yesterday, said its team was not shunned by the Oba of Benin.
The Iyasei, after said, “Our son, the President came on a courtesy visit and, after his visit, he should have a safe journey home.”
While speaking at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, venue of the state PDP governorship rally, Jonathan thanked the people of Edo State for voting massively for him during the last presidential election and recalled that it was in the state that started the campaign for one man one vote, adding that the forthcoming election will not be an exception.
“So, this time around, no stuffing of ballot paper. No thuggery, no thuggery, no thuggery. It must be one man one vote. I came here to promise the people of Edo State that they should keep faith with that promise, Edo State is going to be one state that will show that example.
“And I have been hearing so much stories on Edo State. Let me assure you that even this morning, before I came, I called the Inspector General of Police, are you ready for Edo State? He said yes. I called the Chief of Defense Staff, are you ready for Edo State? He said yes. I guarantee hundred per cent security for your election and there will be no manipulation, election results will be entered at the various units and no body will change figures. PDP is the dominant party, as long as you mobilize and vote, the PDP will win”, he declared.
Anenih, who spoke earlier, said the visit of the President had ended what he described as the rumour being peddled that Jonathan may not show up for the campaign in the state.
He said the party was fully prepared for the election. His words: “We want to put in place a government that will be responsive to the yearnings of the people. Mr President, your presence here has raised our hope. You have energized us. We need a free and fair election. We want to make sure that on election day, all the candidates will be given equal opportunity to vote and go home”.
The national chairman of PDP, Tukur who described the rally as a sea of heads, called on Edo State not to be left out in the PDP train in the South South as the PDP is providing a new agenda in transformation. He presented the PDP governorship candidate, Airhiavbare, to the rally. Airhiavbare was also handed over the flag of PDP as the gubernatorial candidate.
The candidate promised a humane administration and an accountable government. He said the first thing is to address insecurity. According to him, there will be peace through enhanced security, improved health programme and education.
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Drama at Oba’s palace, as Jonathan visits Benin