Editor's note: Public affairs commentator, Yusuf Biliaminu, writes on the Edo state governorship election. The writer posits that Governor Godwin Obaseki and his party, the PDP, have been rejected by the people of the Edo state, predicting that the governor's defeat is imminent.
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The re-election campaigns of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, and his new political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently suffered a major setback, when they were totally disgraced penultimate week outside the Palace of the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II.
The governor’s convoy was blocked. The angry residents numbering hundreds booed and jeered at him and his guests. They called him various derogatory names, particularly “thief." It degenerated into violence, scores were injured and properties vandalised.
That development did not go down well with the governor and the PDP and has generated different reactions from both parties, because of the potential implications it has on the governor’s political fortunes. The direct interpretation of the incident could that he had been rejected by the people and that his defeat is not just imminent, but would be overwhelming.
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Not anybody could fathom that level of outrage outside the Benin palace against an incumbent governor and the implications are huge. For one, if it was just the youth, who reacted like that, they had sent a clear signal to the Oba that they were done with Obaseki.
The reason was simply because in Edo state, the Oba of Benin is well respected in political decisions and a politician, who does not have the backing of the palace would find it very difficult, if not impossible to garner the support of the people.
The PDP claimed that the APC sponsored the attack and that the grand plan was to eliminate the entire opposition leadership because Obaseki had the PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus, members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), Governor Nyesom Wike (Rivers state), Governor Ifeanyi Okowo (Delta state), Governor Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto state), Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo state) and other notable leaders with him.
Earlier, at a press conference, the APC had pointed fingers at Governor Obaseki over the violent incidence at the Oba’s palace. The vice-chairman, media and publicity committee of the APC Campaign Council, Mr Patrick Obahiagbon, specifically blamed the clash on the PDP.
He alleged that the governor resorted to violence, because the duo of former governor and former national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and business mogul, who his government had been victimising for fear that he was planning to pick the APC governorship ticket, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo.
Obahiagbon stated that after the palace incidence, APC supporters were accosted and attacked on the street of Benin, stressing that it is “unacceptable to us as a party. How long more can we persuade our teeming party loyalists to hold back?”
The former House of Representatives member, who said the opposition PDP unleashed terror on the citizenry by enlisting the support of renowned cultists in Benin, further alleged that Obaseki is working on plans to arrest the duo of Oshiomhole, Okunbo and other APC leaders on the eve of the election for not supporting him. He also claimed that there was a plan to set Okunbo’s farm on fire.
Not unmindful of the attacks on him just on the ground of assumption that he was the preferred candidate for the governorship and his perceived support for the APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Okunbo was quick to state that he had no hand in the embarrassment the governor faced at the palace.
He said: “I condemn the booing of the governor and the PDP team, and the reprisal attack. I am particularly pained that some ungodly insinuations in some quarters have linked me with the unfortunate saga.”
But away from all the rhetoric, the governor’s goodwill is fast dwindling among the people and so also is his political fortunes.
In 2016, his cousin, Dr Don Pedro Obaseki categorically urged the people not to vote for him. He didn’t stop at that, he stepped down his ambition and endorsed Ize-Iyamu of the PDP then on the ground that he was the “best candidate” for the election.
“I will rather support Pastor Ize-Iyamu, who represents the collective aspiration of Edo people than support Godwin Obaseki, who is being promoted by external political and economic investors,” Obaseki stated in 2016.
The APC candidate, Ize-Iyamu, also feels there are enough reasons why the people don’t want the governor to have a second term. In a recent interview, he said contrary to claims that Obaseki has been a performing governor, who is hated by a political godfather that is mad at him because he was not allowing them access to the state’s purse, but identified several factors that made the governor ineligible for a second term.
The APC governorship hopeful said Governor Obaseki is not getting the people’s support because he has not made good his campaign promises in the education, security and health sectors, and that despite all accolades he receives for his major achievements in the education sector, Edo Best, he did not employ teachers throughout his first term of office.
While he continues to appeal to his supporters not resort to violence, Ize-Iyamu has repeatedly assured the people of the state that given the opportunity to lead, he would ensure that the people experience economic growth and infrastructure development.
Thus, from the orchestrated show that held outside the palace of the Oba’s place to the much-anticipated election of September 19th, it is evident that the battle is already lost for Obaseki and that indeed, the governor’s defeat would come handy as a critical lesson in poor and vindictive leadership. Importantly, re-electing Obaseki could mean rewarding treachery, betrayal and ingratitude.
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APC disqualifies Obaseki from Edo guber primaries | Legit TV