The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) shocked his audience on Sunday, September 13, during the Channels Television-organized debate between him and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
In answer to a question on his plans to solve the gaping manpower deficiency in the health sector, Obaseki said healthcare had evolved to digital heights, pointing out that even without doctors and nurses, the sector could still run efficiently.
The health sector has come under very dire straits since his election as governor nearly four years ago with no new employment of medical professionals to man the 34 hospitals in the state.
The governor had promised in 2016 to build a Primary Healthcare Center (PHC) in each of the state’s 192 political wards, a promise that has remained unfulfilled.
The State government has been faced with renewed agitations by unions in the health sector for better working conditions, including the implementation of the federally-approved skipping in grade level and payment of the COVID-19 allowances in the past few months with the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) in the state hospitals embarking on a warning strike 2 weeks ago.
They had expressed concerns over the neglect of the health sector by the governor with inadequate funding, lack of basic medical equipment and facilities to work with and the governor’s refusal to pay any visit to the hospital since his assumption of office four years ago.
In an interactive session with the Edo State Branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), last week, the governor fluffed the opportunity to make amends with the health workers on the issue of adequate remuneration when, in response to whether he would implement approved wage-adjusted awards by other state governments, he merely informed them that a medical consultant earned twice his salary.
This didn’t go down well with the medical workers who are spoiling for a showdown with Mr Obaseki for appropriating so much money to himself as security vote without funding the health sector.
The governor is currently trailing his APC opponent, Pastor Ize-Iyamu in different opinion polls in the state at 37 to 63% in an election expected to be won easily by the APC candidate.
In the elections scheduled for September 19th, there is palpable fear and apprehension in the camp of the PDP candidate over his chances in the election as more aides have recently deserted him to work with his opponent, Ize-Iyamu.
The state Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Hon Joseph Ikpea resigned his appointment, just days ago on the heels of an endorsement of Pastor Ize-Iyamu by very prominent founding members of the PDP in Edo State led by former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Idada Ikponmwen (retd.) who blamed the lacklustre leadership structure of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state as responsible for their resignation from the party besides the very well articulated SIMPLE agenda of Pastor Ize-Iyamu.