The recent governorship election in Edo State has left in its trail some victors and the vanquished, writes Adibe Emenyonu
It is natural that every contest must produce both a winner and a loser, including their numerous supporters and fans that share such moments with them. Thus, the governorship election in Edo State, penultimate Saturday, was not different.
With a gale of violence and trade tackling that trailed the election, the build-up to the exercise was tense and left no one in doubt that the election was going to be bloody.
But contrary to some of the predictions and disturbing indications, it ended up being one of the most transparent, credible, free, fair and non-violent polls in recent time, conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The books were not favourable to him before the election but he proved his mettle, which saw him trounce his opponent in a landslide. Against all odds, he beat his rival even in his local government area with more than 3,000 votes to emerge victorious.
In addition to this is the elimination of godfatherism in the politics of Edo. It is, however, hoped that with this new chapter in the artery of Edo’s politics, another godfather will not emerge after the exit of Adams Oshiomole.
Described as the foot soldier of his boss for galvanising the youths against godfathers and at the end, defeated them even with all their knowledge in electioneering.
He boasted he would defeat the former national chairman of APC and that came to pass. Even as he lost in his local government, the overall results showed PDP won the election.
Osarodion Ogie is the Secretary to the Edo State Government (SSG) and a lawyer by profession. Ogie is not the noise making type, because he always works from the background. But he was the brain behind all the court cases instituted by the Obaseki administration against opponents of government.
Little wonder he is always referred to as the “Field Marshall”, because of his unassuming disposition but deadly blows that are usually associated with the outcome of his plans.
For once, the Independent National Electoral Commission has proven its mettle in conducting what was generally adjudged as a free, fair and credible election. This is because many people believed that the outcome would surely be skewed in favour of the ruling party, APC and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
To many, therefore, a Daniel has come to judgment. Kudos to the National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and other staff of the Commission for redeeming their image by conducting an impressive election.
Although the election was not totally free of violence, because of reported cases of death of three persons and invasion of polling units at Urhonigbe South, which led to the cancellation of results from the entire area, security agencies deserve commendation.
With the public hype of impending danger orchestrated by the political parties and their allies, many had thought the election would be bloody. The security agencies deserve commendation for proofing different.
At the inception of the quarrel between Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole, Chief Oyegun did not hide his support for the governor. At every given opportunity, the former governor of Edo State and also, former National Chairman of APC has always demanded that Obaseki should be allowed a second term.
With the victory of Obaseki at the polls, Oyegun has been vindicated and surely a happy man that after all, Obaseki still made it.
President Muhammadu Buhari
By standing neutral in the election, President Muhammadu Buhari needs to be commended. He demonstrated the spirit of nationalism. Even as a member of the All Progressives Congress, he did not allow that to bend his sense of judge. He is one of the heroes of the election.
Oba of Benin, Ewuare II
The Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin set the stage for the near zero violence recorded in the election, when he summoned the gladiators of the two major siders, including some of their leaders to commit themselves to peace before, during and after the polls.
Oba Ewuare II is another hero of the poll. History will continue to remember him for the positive role he played to ensure the election came up without any acrimony.
The PDP Governors
Governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), took the election as their personal project. Right from the very day Obaseki defected to the PDP, the governors began to rally round him in terms of moral and financial support.
They came to Edo during the campaign kick-off and were also in the state during the grand finale. And on the Election Day, a good number of them came to give their support. All these efforts added to give Obaseki victory. Now Edo has completed the circle in the South-south controlled by PDP.
People of Edo
Without the people, who came out to cast their votes, the polls would not have been adjudged as well. They were the greatest heroes by coming out en mass to cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. They are the ones, who really chased the godfathers away and ensured they were completely demystified.
Twice, he has kissed the dust in the pursuit of his governorship bid. First, it was in 2016 as candidate of the PDP against Obaseki of the APC. But in a twist of fate, both gladiators met again in the just concluded gubernatorial poll. He contested under the APC with Obaseki of the PDP. The dwindling fortunes of a non-performing party did not help either.
To crown it all, the APC-controlled national government as naive as they were, decided to increase the pump price of petrol from N145 to N161; increased electricity tariff by almost 100 per cent without considering the effect on the citizens especially, with the COVID-19 pandemic. The people had to show their resentment at the polls.
Immediately after the 2019 presidential election, Oshiomhole began to receive bashing from members of his party especially, the governors, who decried his style of leadership. This snowballed to the state level.
A combination of these two forces saw to his forceful exit as the national chairman of the APC. These same forces collaborated to see that his preferred candidate did not win the election.
Perhaps, the greatest political miscalculation of Bola Tinubu in the poll was the public call he made to the Edo people to reject Obaseki, because according to him, the governor was not a Democrat.
Many indigenes of the state saw that as an affront and an intended extension of his political influence into the state. That was why on the Election Day, the people came out to affirm the slogan that, “Edo No Be Lagos”.
Idahosa Wells Okunbo
For the first time, the Edo born business Mogul made a wrong political choice of who to support in any election in the state. But in the spirit of good sportsmanship, he has congratulated Obaseki. He nursed no bitterness despite having spent so much on his candidate.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. There was an alleged sabotage by some governors and other leaders of the APC, who refused to give the needed support to their Edo candidate simply because they perceived him as a launch pad to Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition, forgetting the prism that “united we stand, divided we fall”.
This singular attitude, because of the hatred for one or two leaders of the party by others, if not addressed now, could mar the chances of APC in 2023. When that time eventually comes, they’d realise that the seed was sown during the Edo election.
Obaseki’s Aides Who Quit
All those who resigned from the Obaseki-led cabinet by now will be gnashing their teeth by for making the mistake of leaving with the impression that the table would turn in their favour. They made one of the biggest mistakes of their lives.