By Dapo Akinrefon
All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State, Tuesday, alleged that Governor Godwin Obaseki and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, were fuelling religious tension ahead of the election.
The party frowned at the reaction of PDP to the honorary Itsemakohna (‘This one is ours’) 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 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.
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 turbaning 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.
“It is 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 Godwin Obaseki, understood the plurality of the state like most Nigerian societies, and pursued peace and unity, not actively stoking 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.”