The All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State, Tuesday, accused Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of fuelling religious tension ahead of the governorship election in the state.
But the PDP, in its reaction, dismissed the allegations, saying it was committed to the peace and unity of the state.
This came on a day 17 factional members of Edo State House of Assembly, claiming to be the authentic assembly, met amidst tight security, alleging that there are plots to attack them.
The APC frowned on the reaction of the PDP to the honorary Itsemakohna title (this is our own) conferred on the APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu by the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III.
The APC media Campaign Council chairman, John Mayaki, accused the PDP of being insensitive to the cultural and religious diversities in the state.
Mayaki, in a statement, said that Auchi, which is in the northern part of Edo State, popularly called the Afemai or Afenmai region, is a predominantly Muslim area under the traditional leadership of the Otaru of Auchi.
He said: “The conferment of the Itsemakohna title on Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, as explained by the candidate himself, was a mark of honour indicative of his level of acceptance in all parts of Edo State.
“His personal religion and position as a pastor are not unknown to the Otaru who, indeed, refers and regards him as a Christian and ordained man of God.
“The symbolic turbanning is not a religious ceremony, but a cultural one to show clearly that the people of Auchi no longer want Governor Obaseki and have embraced the APC candidate.
“There are many reasons for the rejection of the embattled Governor, part of which includes his flagrant disrespect for tradition and well-known divisive tendencies, a fact which he and his party have now corroborated with the evil insinuations they introduced to the event, seeking to stoke religious tension in Edo State.
“The governor’s disrespect for tradition was apparent when he visited the palace of the Oba of Benin without the customary kola nut he should have carried and met a cold reception.
“His opponent, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, a more urbane and culturally conscious man, carried the kola nut on his visit and was met by a full regiment of powerful Benin chiefs who greeted him affectionately.
“Edo has been able to steer clear of the religious tension that the rejected PDP is trying to engender because other Governors and administrators before the sad emergence of Obaseki understood the plurality of the State like most Nigerian societies, and pursued peace and unity, not actively stoke tension with poor propaganda on the account of mindless politics.
“Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu does not discriminate against people because of their religious beliefs. The faith he professes and teaches, as exemplified and instructed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, kicks against divisive actions and preaches peaceful harmony.
“Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s honorary title by the Otaru, an Islamic traditional ruler, is a powerful attestation to his ability to preside over the affairs of the state and its diverse people with the maturity, sensitivity, and fairness required to achieve social harmony and development.
“On the contrary, by seeking to add mischievous interpretations to the event, the PDP and its new leader, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, continue to burnish their reputation as an irresponsible party unfit for leadership at any level, not much as Governor of a diverse state where everyone must be treated with respect, irrespective of leaning and religious beliefs.”
But, in a swift reaction, the PDP denied the allegation that it was inciting religious violence in the state by its comments on the recent title conferred on Ize-Iyamu.
The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Chris Nehikhare said: “We stand by our statement and in that statement, there is nowhere we said anything that will affect the peace and unity of the state. We are committed to the peace and unity of Edo State but we stand by our position that Ize-Iyamu and Oshiomhole are ready to cede part of Edo land to Miyetti Allah for Fulani herdsmen to establish grazing ground. We have heard in the past that such agreement has been reached and Ize-Iyamu receiving that title inferred that our thoughts have been confirmed.”