Editor's note: Communications analyst, Olutomiwa Alfred, in this piece, posits that President Muhammadu Buhari should be actively involved in the Edo governorship election, stressing that failure to do this could leave a blotch on whatever legacy the president might want to lay claim to after his stewardship in office.
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The September 19th governorship election in Edo state comes with a lot of promises and perils for the political legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari. Lest he is unaware, his claims to a lasting, positive legacy for the All Progressives Congress, APC, are dependent largely on the outcome of the Edo, nay Ondo elections. Alas, it is almost common knowledge that, where he is not directly affected, President Buhari can be patently detached while maintaining a Grand Canyon of distance.
But there is fire on the mountain in Edo state and with the election a few days away, the president needs to shed that passé toga of detachment and adorn the garb of pragmatic proactiveness. This is because the battle for the heart and soul of the state is not just between Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate and APC’s Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu; several powerful forces are tugging at the soul of the state for different pecuniary or political reasons.
As a candidate, Ize-Iyamu has run a good campaign so far. He has creditably sold his SIMPLE (Security and Social Welfare, Infrastructure Development, Manpower Development, Public/Private Partnership, Leadership by Example and Employment Creation) Agenda to the electorate, who now perceives him as a cut above the rest – the one who can liberate them from the shackles of under-development and misgovernance exemplified by the incumbent.
As someone, who is also firmly rooted in the politics of the state, he has also clearly debunked insinuations in several quarters that if he emerged governor, he would be under the shadows and viselike grip of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
What many don’t know or are deliberately glossing over is that Ize-Iyamu has been in politics at the local and national level longer than Oshiomhole. In 1999, upon the return of democratic government to Nigeria, Ize-Iyamu was appointed as the chief of staff to the then governor of Edo state, Dr Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion.
During Igbinedion’s second term, he was elevated to the post of Secretary to the State Government (SSG). All this while, Oshiomhole was a mere activist and labour leader – serving as president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC. Ize-Iyamu later served as national vice-chairman, south-south zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the legacy parties that formed the APC.
Because of his understanding of the Edo political terrain and familiarity with the people, Ize-Iyamu was appointed the director-general of Oshiomhole’s second term campaign organisation and he delivered. So, Ize-Iyamu is no neophyte in politics or a yo-yo that can be tossed about by any person masquerading as a godfather.
This is a fact that has yet to be clearly understood by some frontline members of the APC especially many of the sitting governors and senators, who see Obaseki’s denial of a second term ticket as the handiwork of Oshiomhole. This is the crux of the matter.
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Last June, Obaseki defected to the PDP, where he was offered the governorship ticket at the detriment of other aspirants. Many incumbent governors fingered Oshiomhole as being responsible for this defection and went all out to have him removed.
As the reports go, a delegation of angry APC governors met with the president and presented to him three requests one of which was Oshiomhole’s removal, dissolution of the National Working Committee and the constitution of a caretaker committee headed by Mai Mala Buni, the governor of Yobe state.
All of these were granted. The president never made any request of the governors. In fact, reports say that they were shocked that he acceded to all their requests.
It is now time for the president to ask a favour of the governors, which is for them to close ranks and ensure that they not only win Edo state; they do so convincingly and move on to Ondo state, which governorship election is in October. He must call the aggrieved governors to order by discouraging and denouncing their apparent anti-party activities, speak to their collective conscience, probably make them swear to an oath of allegiance if that would help whip them into line, and commit them to work for the party and Ize-Iyamu. Failure to do this now could leave a blotch on whatever legacy the president might want to lay claim to after his stewardship in office.
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