Edo guber as shadow of PDP, APC’s 2023 chances
There are many sides to the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial poll in Edo State. Chances are that the election might end up as one of the most contested and interesting gubernatorial polls in the Fourth Republic.
Aside the fact that the election is going to be a battle between the dominant political parties in the country since 1999, it would provide the candidates of All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the incumbent, Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ample opportunity to test their clout and popularity before Edo electorate.
One other aspect of the election, which could be considered unique, is that the incumbent, who some months back hoped to run on the APC platform, defected to PDP. Obaseki’s defection was due to some irreconcilable crisis between him and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, a former national chairman of the party. He would now square up with Ize-Iyamu, who left the PDP to realise his governorship ambition on the platform of APC.
Four years ago, Ize-Iyamu contested on PDP’s platform against Obaseki, who is now the candidate of PDP that will face his biggest opponent on his former party. Although, Obaseki enjoyed the support of Oshiomhole to defeat Ize-yamu in 2016, it is not very certain if he can achieve the same feat in the next few weeks without the support of his predecessor, who has since put his political machinery behind Ize-Iyamu. Some political observers, especially in Edo State told The Guardian that in a free and fair game, the incumbent is no match for Ize-Iyamu, who is considered to be more politically savvy with better grasp of the state’s grassroots politics.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Media Campaign Council of the APC has accused Obaseki and PDP, of unleashing violence on the people in Benin City following a confrontation in which the incumbent was booed and embarrassed while trying to gain entrance into the palace of the Oba of Benin.
The chairman of the Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki flayed Obaseki for allegedly instructing some miscreants to attack the people as retribution for publicly booing his arrival with various chants labeling him a rejected candidate.
Mayaki also accused the governor and his loyalists of destroying their own billboards at certain locations in the state as a gimmick to deflect responsibility and get a reprieve for the alleged organized destruction of APC billboards after the party filed a petition with the police and other relevant agencies.
He said: “It is sad that Obaseki, the outgoing governor, has displayed the same traits of intolerance and penchant for violence that made the people of Edo unanimously reject him. Booed by the people at the entrance of the palace of our great Oba for handing the state to the PDP tax collectors, who are unconscionably feasting on our collective patrimony, Obaseki, as an act of revenge, instructed the thugs and cultists he has spent the past few weeks recruiting in the state and beyond to attack the people.”
The APC candidate assured his supporters of peaceful and fair election just as he advised his major opponent, Obaseki and the PDP to shun provocative actions.
Ize-Iyamu said APC, has focused on his manifesto, the SIMPLE agenda, and urged the opposition to follow suit instead of name-calling and campaign of calumny based on things not beneficial to the people of the state.
His words: “We have said that we want this election to be issue-based. We don’t want to resort to name-calling and insults. We want to focus on our SIMPLE agenda. I can assure you that we as a party will do everything to avoid violence.
“The PDP has posters and billboards all around the place. In fact, they started before us by putting billboards around the place. We got agents to help us ask the state government how much we need to pay for the available spaces, they told us and we paid.”
Similarly, a political group involved in Street-to-Street campaign in Edo, the Vintage Campaign Platform, has also appealed to Obaseki to stop his loyalists from verbal attacks against Captain Hosa Wells Okunbo.
The platform in a statement issued by its convener, Daniel Eromonsele, expressed displeasure over the manner the governor’s team has been throwing tantrums at Okunbo, a respected Edo-born business magnate, industrialist and philanthropist.
According to Eromonsele, “Captain Hosa Wells Okunbo is a blessing to Edo State. He has been a major investor in business and even the lives of teeming Edo Youth, as part of his philanthropic disposition. He has displayed a high level of equanimity and maturity, despite the unfounded provocative attacks on his person by Obaseki’s apologists.”
The platform described the recent attack on Okubo as one, saying that the development also shows the desperation of the incumbent to reduce the relevance of prominent Edo indigenes in national affairs because of securing re-election for a second tenure.
The platform also flayed Obaseki over his treatment to the immediate past APC national Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.The platform noted that despite the campaign of calumny, Hosa will always be celebrated for building businesses, lives and providing jobs and development across Edo communities, saying the incumbent is standing on the wrong side of history.
But weighing the chances of the two major candidates, a public analyst, Michael Ovienmhada, said the incumbent is no longer an unknown quantity. According to Ovienmhada, “In 2016, he barely spoke a word. Oshiomhole spoke for him, was interviewed for him, danced for him and sang for him. Obaseki just stood by Oshiomhole’s side, smiling, almost handsome, compared to his godfather. We all wondered, mouths wide open, our brains spinning. How could a man stake so much for another human being? We could not but admire Oshiomhole’s total endorsement of Obaseki and his willingness to stake his own future on a man he barely knew. We then concluded that Oshiomhole must have known something we did not know.”
He noted that as Obaseki’s tenure began to unfold “we were at first hopeful that he would bring great development to the state when we saw construction equipment prowling the streets of Benin, fixing roads. I was impressed. The press coverage of his achievements was positive and everyone began to applaud his choice. It did not take long for him to bare his fangs and begin to growl at his benefactor. He rode roughshod over all the political blocs Oshiomhole had deployed to take him to Osadebey House.
“When Oshiomhole completed two terms and nominated Godwin Obaseki to succeed him, one thing was clear. Oshiomhole was not going to let Obaseki go into the field against a tried and tested political giant like Ize-Iyamu in Benin by himself. He would be eaten for lunch. Oshiomhole had to deploy everything in his arsenal to fight for his nominee.”
He noted that now that the battle lines are drawn between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu, one thing is certain; the incumbent must run on his own record.Another stakeholder, Ifeanyi Nwaneri said the ignominious welcome of the governor and his PDP acolytes, was a ringing testament to how badly the people want him out of the Government House.
Nwaneri said the people cannot be blamed, adding: “This was a governor they unanimously voted for just four years ago with the mandate to take the state further than his predecessor, the intrepid Comrade Adams Oshiomole. Oshiomole had set the state on a path to prosperity, as many acknowledge across the state and beyond.”
He faulted the governor for failing to continue to build on Oshiomhole’s legacy insisting, “he whimsically derailed and plunged the state into retrogression, while battling his benefactors and depriving the people of quality governance.”
In less than seven weeks, Ize-Iyamu and Governor Obaseki will test their strength once more before the voters. First, the PDP would like to retain control of the entire South South region, as APC will not want to let go the only state it controls in the zone. In similar vein, the two political parties to have their way might likely deploy power of incumbent and federal might.
While Obaseki may be banking on power of incumbency to retain the governorship, the ruling APC is likely to deploy federal might to suppress the chances of the governor.
Most importantly, the election is also going to create room for a balance of power play in APC. A member of APC said Oshiomhole would only stand the chance of becoming relevant both in Edo and the ruling party if Ize-Iyamu wins on September 19, otherwise it may signal the end of the former national chairman’s political career.
On the other hand, the echoes of Obaseki’s possible victory will resound even in APC, especially among those who felt the erstwhile national chairman’s tenure was a disaster for the party. This could also boost PDP’s chances ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Meanwhile, the National Leader of APC and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, who is also an interested party to the election, is not resting on his oars to ensure victory for Ize-Iyamu.
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