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There must be security for people to vote – Airehiavbere

Airehiavbere

Candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party in the July 14 governorship election in Edo State, Maj-Gen. Charles Airehiavbere (retd.) in an interview with journalists, talks about his preparation for the poll. NIYI ODEBODE was there.

People believe  that Adams Oshiomhole administration has changed the face of governance in Edo State. What is your view on this?

I think we have reached the level now where Edo State should go beyond lamentation.

If you compare Edo State with states like Cross River, Akwa Ibom and also compare it to a state like Rivers, all of which are in the same South-South region like Edo State, you will discover that Edo State is far behind due to the fact that the level of performance of the old PDP was low.

And that has also given us the platform to asess the performance of the Action Congress of Nigeria that has been there for the past three and half years.

It is clear that most of the people that have been there in the old PDP, who did not create a proper bench-mark for performance, have also moved to the ACN.

It is the same set of people that are still in the helm of affairs in Edo politics. I believe that this is the time for a change, the time that the new PDP is coming with a transformation agenda

Your critics have said that you don’t have any programme. What is your reaction to that?

 We have a programme of action that, by the grace of God if we win the election, for the first 100 days, we intend to assess the ongoing projects of the ACN-led government to ensure that all ongoing projects are completed.

Edo State people have indicated interest to be aware of what is going on. We intend to come up with ‘Operation Cover Potholes’ in Edo State to ensure that our youths are immediately given the platform for employment.

There will be skill acquisition centres that are immediately established in the various local government areas to ensure that within the first 100 days, there will be an immediate effect of a new government in place. We hope that in the first three months of being in office, free and compulsory education policy would have started to come on stream.

All our students in the tertiary institutions would have been granted bursary. And those students that did well in the universities would be given scholarships.

I want to assure you that the healthcare services will ensure that the pregnant women are registered and treated free of charge in the hospitals from their first month to the ninth month when they will have their delivery, no matter the complications.

Our aged, those that are 65 and above, will have their medicals free and children below the age of five will also have their medicals taken care of by government.

In the last debate, the ACN stated that you referred to undergraduates of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma as criminals. 

First, I want to make it categorically clear that I will never refer to my students, my children in Ambrose Alli University as criminals or armed robbers because I also have two of my children in Ambrose Alli University.

What I said was that they should have the best standards for our children so that students of Ambrose Alli University can match others from any university in the world.

I visited Usen recently; one of the students was shot and eventually lost his life in the hospital.

This was a young man with potentials and a son of a police officer.

There is the allegation that the PDP, in its desperation to win, is buying voters’ card from the electorate.

From the interaction we had with the Independent National Electoral Commission last Friday, it was clear that it is the ACN that was buying voters’ cards for the electorate and what they intend to achieve by this, only God knows.

But the chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, made it absolutely clear that if you do not have a voter’s card, you will not be allowed to vote despite the presentation by the ACN that those who don’t have cards should be allowed to vote.

How do you see the deployment of 3,500 soldiers to Edo?

It is the best thing that has happened in Edo State. That soldiers have come will help beef up the security situation in Edo. There have been threats and counter-threats, but I believe that if the environment is secure, people will come out to vote for the candidate of their choice, but not in a situation where the people are scared. What you can find now is that with the soldiers around, people will be free to go about their duties and vote their candidate on July 14.-Punch

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