By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki and the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu on Sunday exchanged hot words at the Governorship debate organised by Channels Television.
The two candidate disagreed and fight over every issue put across to them by the anchorman, Seun Okinbaloye.
In the area of tax, Iyamu said he would abolish multiple taxation and that he would not allow people to collect money and put it in their pocket like it was being done in Obaseki’s government.
“We need to Abolish multiple taxation. So many people are not in the tax net. We are going to support businesses to grow,” he said.
But Obaseki said most of the tax he collected were from Pay As You Earn, PAYE, and that he would expand on that to rake in more taxes.
“Pay as you earn accounts for the largest amount of taxes. What we have done is to try and expand that net.
“We have also used technology to ensure that for the low income tax payers, we make it easy for them to pay their taxes,” he said.
On whether the Civil Service is over bloated and whether he would cut down on the workforce, Obaseki said he would not cut down on the civil service, saying that “the problem is that it is overbloated. we need to bring in more people to work for government, smarter people and we need to train them.”
Obaseki said the problem with the Edo State Civil Service was that it is aged.
But Ize-Iyamu countered Obaseki, saying that “I think the model that the governor has tried to adopt, is to reduce the workforce to the barest minimum. but unfortunately, whatever savings he thinks he is making, is not seen in capital projects.
“The only vote that has been recorded is his security votes which has increased by over 100% but yet, there is no serious investment in the security sector.
“I want to make it clear that the civil service workforce is not overbloated. The problem is that the governor has not lifted a finger to develop the workforce; it will be suicidal to try him again. My simple agenda will be to properly utilise the Civil service.”
On job creation, Obaseki said he had created about 150,000 jobs from the 200,000 he promised during his last four years tenure.
Ize-Iyamu countered him again, saying “it is sad that the government of Obaseki falsifies figures. What the government calls jobs are appointments; those are not jobs. Every school we campaigned at had virtually no teachers. When you are talking about jobs, who did you give jobs to? We are doing badly.”
He also accused Obaseki of collecting over N75 billion in debts, wondering what he did with the money.
“My contestant has collected over N75 billion in debts. What did he do with them? All his promises remain unfulfilled despite the fact that he came in when there was high windfall in Edo.”
On security, Ize-Iyamu attacked Obaseki, saying that “there have been increase in security votes, but there have been no investment in security. Our state is one of the few in the country with no advance in technology for fighting security. Our security vehicles cannot fight security.”
He said he would invest in technology and trackers to fight criminals and cultism that had been on the rise in Edo State.
“The personnel deployed to our state for combating insecurity will be complemented by an organised state police, but we must work with the federal government and every other stakeholder. Our people must feel safe at all times,” he said.
But Obaseki countered Ize-Iyamu on security vote, saying that his “security vote is less than 5% of the total budget, but we have had to create a hybrid of sorts, in the form of PUWOV, working with federal authorities.”
On kidnapping, Ize-Iyamu lamented that it had been very high in Edo, saying that “we are not showing enough concern. If I were governor, I would have acted on veritable intelligence and mobilised security agencies to flush out the forests around Benin-Auchi road.”
But Obaseki said his administration had a software to track crime and monitor trends.
“We have deployed this a couple of times, especially when kidnapping was rife in the Ore-Okada axis. We cleared both sides of the forest and collaborated with federal authorities to bring sanity,” he said.