Editor's note: Public affairs commentator, Elizabeth Tejumola, in this piece, suggests Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot defeat Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Edo state governorship election. According to the writer, many factors favours the APC candidate.
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As the appointed day for the Edo people to choose their preferred governor for the next four years approaches, politicians from various camps and parties are bracing up, leaving no stone unturned to ensure victory for their candidates, apprehensions are rife and political anxiety is shored up among residents and observers alike.
Drumbeats and counter-drumbeats of war could be heard at deafening volumes. The closer the election date, the more ingenious some of the political camps have become in their bid to outwit one another.
There is no doubt that the forthcoming Edo governorship election fits like a prototype for the 2023 general election, largely as the real battle for "Osadebe House" remains squarely between the duo of incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Both the APC and PDP have worked tirelessly to ensure that enough friends are made and are converted to loyal voters for the September 19 poll.
Politics anywhere in the world is a number’s game and the numbers have to be accumulated. Both Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu have been traversing the length and breadth of the state – from Edo south to Edo central, not leaving out the much-coveted Edo north senatorial electorate – all in the bid to shop for friends, who would be converted into favourable voters.
Though usually, the outcome of any election involving an incumbent officeholder, particularly in Nigeria has almost always been predictable, because they usually sway every state apparatus, including the security agents and even electoral umpires to their advantage, usually in a manner that makes a mockery of democracy.
Apart from squandering state funds illegally on an election, which usually is their (the politicians) selfish pursuit, it has also become a wise tactic for politicians to woo voters and political influencers with posts, appointments, contracts and other patronages. The power of incumbency is usually arrogated to the advantage of the incumbent.
However, the incumbent in the Edo election, Governor Obaseki has been in the thick of one storm or the other since the warm-up began for the forthcoming polls. He has had a seemingly endless battle of supremacy against his immediate predecessor and benefactor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomole. But the former APC national chairman is just one out of the many hurdles awaiting Mr Obaseki in his bid to have a second term as a governor.
That the political combat for the control of APC in Edo state between Oshiomole and Obaseki ripped Oshiomhole of his APC chairmanship garb is no longer news, but the laurel won by the governor against his former boss, who many believe is neither down nor dead, will be a major albatross for him.
The greatest challenge for Obaseki at the polls will be the over 60 per cent of the total Edo state constituents, who have been denied representation on the floor of the house. It implies that the 17 house members and their teeming supporters will work against the governor at the polls. How he intends to convert this larger and aggrieved populace, mostly in APC dominated zones, into supporters and voters remains to be seen.
Again, he has lost the grassroots and no one wins any election with this kind of posturing, more so, the likes of Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo, whom he turned to an enemy overnight is loved by many people in the grassroots and worst still, his challenger, Ize-Iyamu, is a well-known grassroots politician.
Both Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu are from Edo South senatorial district. It is, however, instructive to repeat that the challenger is a respected grassroots politician, loved by his kith and kin. Their love for him has always been demonstrated during elections even when he was not in the central ruling party. For instance, neither Obaseki nor any other politician stands any chance to win against Ize-Iyamu in any election as far as the senatorial district is concerned.
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He has always won and will win the upcoming elections if history and statistics could be valid indices of accurate forecast. Ize-Iyamu is a politician with strong personal political structures on ground, from the pre-APC days, when he founded the Grace Group, a structure that successfully midwifed the ACN and later APC. Ize-Iyamu is a man respected and loved by the who-is-who in Edo politics.
Unlike the incumbent, who relies on syndicated votes from other regions chiefly Edo north, where he rode on the Oshiomole factor to the government house, presently, Ize-Iyamu and Oshiomole are in the same camp against Godwin Obaseki. And boosting the rating of their camp is the fact that nearly all the notable politicians in the state, have now signed up for the Ize-Iyamu ambition.
The APC candidate will naturally carry the day in Oshiomole's north senatorial district. The combination of a split victory from Edo north and central senatorial districts coupled with an assured maximum vote from the South will see Ize-Iyamu coasting to a landslide victory in the upcoming elections.
Though the central senatorial district, for the consideration of 2024 is likely to support incumbent Obaseki, simply because standing with the governor and ensuring his victory might see the baton of leadership switching in their direction come 2024. But votes from this district are the least among the three divisions in the state.
Worst still, the consideration they might have for Obaseki could as well be overwhelmed by the strong ties between Ize-Iyamu and major politicians in this region.
Ize-Iyamu has been a friend of the influential Igbinedion family since the 80s, during the Zero Party. He was an assistant to Lucky Igbinedion as a local government chairman and became the Chief of Staff when Lucky became governor, before eventually making him the Secretary to the State Government. All these factors have definitely propelled the unusual crowd and personalities seen during each of his campaigns.
For instance, when he took his campaign to Edo central, apart from his running mate, Mallam Gani Audu and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the federal commissioner representing Edo in the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Mr Henry Idahagbon, the Edo Central Campaign Director-general and two-time member, Federal House of Representatives, Mr Patrick Ikhariale, two-time former commissioner, Chief Frank Okafi Erewele, the strong man of Edo central politics, Chief Francis Inegbeneki, former civil commissioner, Ken Ihensekhien, Mr Abu Momodu among others were present to lend their support.
In Edo north, the list is inexhaustible with personalities like former deputy governor, Rev. Peter Obadan; Senator representing Edo North Senatorial District, Senator Francis Alimikhena, the member representing Akoko-Edo federal constituency in the House of Representatives. These and many more political heavyweights appear to have deserted Obaseki for an old friend and ally, Ize-Iyamu.
Knowing full well that the crowds seen at political rallies may not be the true representation of the peoples' love for a contestant, the calibre of politicians, who have signified their disapproval of Obaseki's re-election is a better pointer to the fact that he has been roundly rejected by his people, and as such, cannot and will not win the September 19 governorship election in Edo state.
Read more on the Edo election here.
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