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At last, Obaseki humbles godfathers to win a second term

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Governor Godwin Obaseki of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has made history by posting a second shocking defeat against his old rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Both men switched political platforms after their previous contest four years ago, which ended in Obaseki’s favour. Troubled by intra-party squabbles within his former APC party, Obaseki moved over to PDP in search of a second term mandate, while Ize-Iyamu went to fill the chasm created by the accidental displacement of the governor.

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After turbulent and tension-soaked electioneering, which culminated in last Saturday’s poll, Obaseki garnered a total of 307,955 votes to put the Edo State Government House beyond his APC challenger, who polled 223,619.
 
While announcing the result of the election after much delay and suspense, the Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Johnson Alalibo, who is the chief returning officer, declared: “Godwin Obaseki of the PDP, having satisfied the requirement of the law and scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared the winner.” 
 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 7, 2017, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki speaks about migrants brought home from Libya in Benin, capital of Edo State in midwest Nigeria. - Governor Godwin Obaseki of Nigeria's main opposition party has won re-election in southern Edo state, officials said on September 20, 2020, after the nation's first poll since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)


A break down of the result showed that a gap of 84,336 votes separated the winner, Obaseki, and his closest rival, Ize-Iyamu. No sooner was the final pronouncement made on the election result than wild jubilation broke out at various parts of the state, especially Benin City, the state capital. A torrent of reactions also trailed Obaseki’s convincing and historic second electoral triumph on two different political parties.
 
In his remarks immediately after being declared winner, Governor Obaseki, while thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for defending democracy, commended INEC and security agencies for not interfering with the process.
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The governor, who complained about the deployment of non-functional card readers by INEC, noted that the electoral body has shown that it could be an unbiased umpire, saying he never knew the commission was capable of conducting the free and fair election. 
 
Recognizing the heroism and loyalty of his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, Obaseki said the collective will of the Edo people “made us to triumph over godfatherism during our re-election campaign.”
 
He praised PDP for being a part of comfort, recalling that the party provided him an alternative platform upon which he triumphed in the September 19 gubernatorial poll, even as he assured that “working with my deputy, Philip Shaibu, we are determined and committed to making Edo great again.”
 
Bemoaning APC’s defeat, state chairman of the party, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, noted that the state chapter of the party “has been vindicated by the result of this election because we have always held the position that Governor Obaseki was the preferred candidate.”
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While regretting that Ize-Iyamu campaigned without the party, Ojezua disclosed that the APC governorship candidate carried out his electioneering with an unconstitutional and illegal contraption called the Edo Peoples Movement.
 
He stated: “There was a consensus within the party that Governor Obaseki was the consensus candidate. But, we had some people who felt larger than life, who believe they have the power of God Almighty and they went against the wishes of party members within the state.
 
“They took advantage of their position in Abuja and they managed to push the governor out of the party. The result of this election is the result of that perfidy. So this is where we are now.
 
“In doing that, they destroyed the party, because they created a faction out of the party with an unconstitutional contraption called Edo People’s Movement, installed a candidate for the party against the wishes of the members and this is the result. They conducted their campaign without a party, using a borrowed platform as it were. This is the result.”
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Ojezua further said that it “is a pity that a state we have governed for years without any opposition, all of a sudden, we are now taking a back seat; it is so unfortunate. I don’t even know what the state of the party will be after this, because Oshiomhole has succeeded in fractionalizing the party. He has destroyed the goodwill that existed between members of the party. The existence of the party is threatened as I speak.” 
 
Chairman of the PDP Governorship Campaign, Nyesom Wike, said Obaseki’s victory signals an end to godfatherism, adding that the governor’s second victory “is a fulfillment of a dream to end godfather politics in the South-South region.”
 
Flanked by other members of the campaign organization, including Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Wike declared: “We have fulfilled our obligations of kicking out godfatherism, first in Rivers, now Edo Sate. Power truly belongs to the people of the Niger Delta. Congratulations to my brother, Governor Obaseki, and the big PDP family.”
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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in his reaction, said Obaseki’s victory signals the end of godfatherism in Nigeria, stressing that Obaseki’s return to office “ushers in a new dawn in Edo State.” 
 
According to the 2019 PDP presidential standard bearer, “the hard-won victory of Obaseki was not just a victory, but a declaration of independence from the anti-democratic forces of godfatherism and militarism. 
 
“There is a new wind of democratic change now blowing all over Nigeria. The forces of despotism, nepotism, and interlopers cannot successfully withstand this force. Nigeria shall soon be totally free from these forces, from Kaura Namoda, to Lagos. The only power that will stand in Nigeria is people power, not the power of godfathers, or despots.”
 
Atiku explained that no victory could be sweeter than that of last Saturday for Obaseki and the good people of Edo State “for their resilience and for adding a new record as the bastion of Nigerian democracy in the face of the forces arrayed against them.” 
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While tasking Obaseki to be magnanimous in victory, the former vice president lauded PDP for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Edo and their government, in good and bad times, remarking that the party has shown that it was not a fair-weather friend to the good people of Edo.
 
“I also seize this opportunity to thank His Royal Highness, the Oba of Benin, Omo N’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolopkolo, Ewuare II, for the fatherly role he played as a neutral catalyst for peace. That this election was, by and large free from violence, is a testament of the long and effective shadow he casts over his domain,” he added.
 
Also reacting, former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said it was a good development that the Orhiomwon LGA results, which created a little hiccup during collation and declaration of results of the gubernatorial election were resolved peacefully. 
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“Kudos to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),” he said. “I want to commend President Buhari for demonstrating leadership. I believe his statesmanship in instructing that there must be credible polls is what has given us this level of transparency.” 
 
Prominent PDP governorship aspirant, Mr. Ken Imasuagbon, while praising President Buhari, said Nigeria has come back to earn respect in the comity of democratic nations.
 
“The implication of Obaseki’s re-election is that Nigeria has come back to the reckoning of the international community and that President Buhari is a good man.
 
“The military and police have shown that they are professional and patriotic and they are worthy of our commendation. It is a new dawn for democracy; we can take this to Ondo State to show that the people have the final say in their governance.”

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