How Edo Governorship Election Was Won And Lost | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How Edo Governorship Election Was Won And Lost

Posted: Oct 1, 2016 at 3:45 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Francis Onoiribholo

Benin – The vigorous and energy sapping campaign for two months in which the two major political parties in the just concluded elections explained their manifestos and programmes to the people of Edo State, translated into votes on Wednesday 28 September, 2016. The people’s verdict was an indication whether their messages have been well received.

The initial security? report which forced a postponement of the election from the earlier scheduled date of September 10, 2016 created suspicion in the minds of the opposition, especially, the PDP, which claimed that the ruling party connived with the security agencies to make the shift of the election because it was afraid of imminent defeat.

Incidentally, the benefit of hindsight has laid bare the invisible reasons the security agencies saw which were not too obvious then as the election came through virtually without hitches and most importantly, without any loss of precious lives.

Meanwhile, although 19 candidates and political parties were cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the election, in reality, only two political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were in serious contention for the governorship seat at Osadebey Avenue, more so as some of the candidates of other parties a few days to the election declared support for the candidature of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in mock replica of the conglomeration of political parties that successfully unseated the incumbent President in the 2015 Presidential election.

The reward of the candidates and their parties showed through the number of votes they got at the end of the election but though, the Edo Polls may have come and gone, the reactions are bound to last longer especially as the main opposition party, the PDP has indicated interest in challenging the result in court.

Factors that decided the election

However, factors responsible for the voter behavior before the election that impacted heavily on response of voters command deep analysis.

First among the factors was that the election which is about the homogeneous Edo people was to decide how governance under the PDP which previously presided over the affairs of the state for 10 years and now under APC for about eight years, has impacted on their lives and the overall development of the state in the periods under review.

Secondly, the two major candidates, Mr. Godwin Obaseki? of the APC, a technocrat and Chairman of Governor Oshiomhole’s Economic and Strategy Team which immediately portrayed him as Oshiomhole’s man and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP, a former Secretary to Government in Lucky Igbinedion’s administration which unavoidably also portrayed him as Igbinedion’s man, are both Benins from the Edo South Senatorial District.

This made the contest a Benin affair when it came to the people of the senatorial district voting for the two and here began the dilemma for the Benins in making a choice of who between the two candidates will they vote for?

Influence of 2015 elections

Perhaps, an x-ray of the scenario that play?ed out in the 2015 general elections may give inkling to what direction the Benins may go in this election. In the general election, there was a strong feeling among some notable Benins that the state, particularly the Benins, had not got much attention from Abuja because the state government was not aligned to the centre, which was then PDP while the state was APC.

Those who were the champion of that position, including Pastor Ize-Iyamu, were able to convince their people to toe their position, hence the PDP won most of the National Assembly seats and the Presidential election in the South Senatorial District. However, it turned out that their hope of PDP retaining power at the centre failed. However, the proponent of the agenda of Edo aligning with the government at the centre were realistic enough to return to their people to convince them once again to vote for APC in the remaining House of Assembly election, in pursuance of their vision, hence the APC won the Assembly seats in the South Senatorial District.

The necessity of the above narration is to put in perspective what transpired and informed the voting behaviour and pattern of the South Senatorial District in the last general election and to see whether in this election, the Benins will stick to their vision of aligning with the centre or return to vote opposition, which they rejected, and which unfortunately in this election, is PDP.

If they choose to vote for alignment with the centre, then APC will carry the day but if they choose to vote opposition, PDP will carry the day, hence the contest in this Senatorial District predicted to be keen and so it was.

Again, political observers were curious to know the extent Chief John Odigie-Oyegun’s position as National Chairman of the APC will contribute to APC’s victory in the South. Besides, very many of PDP former leaders in this area, have now pitched tent with the APC, a factor many believe, will work in favour of the party in the election.

Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia a reference point in infrastructural development of the defunct Bendel State was unequivocal as he called for recognition of the tremendous and all pervading performance of the Comrade Governor Oshiomhole and therefore, Edo should take advantage of continuity in governance and strive to achieve greater development for the greater number of the Edo people.

Then the Running mate factor which for strategic reasons, the APC and PDP picked their running mates from Edo North and Central, respectively.

The Edo North has six local governments and is the home of incumbent Governor Adams Oshiomhole. The North has more population and voting strength than? the Central Senatorial District with five local governments. In this area, Oshiomhole is adjudged to have performed very well in terms of roads and other projects, though the Owan and Akoko-Edo axis of the district had some initial misgivings in the decision of the party to give the running mate slot to the Etsakos, where Oshiomhole comes from.

Nonetheless, the feeling is that the APC will have an edge over the PDP, in the North Senatorial District, as the people have resolved to show appreciation to Oshiomhole with their votes. The running mate to the APC governorship candidate, Hon. Philip Shaibu who hails from here, is also popular among his people and seen as a tested person, who served two terms in Edo State House of Assembly and currently a member of the House of Representatives.?

Notwithstanding the dissatisfaction of a segment of people of the North Senatorial District, there was a strong feeling in the air that the APC will prevail there and it did.

In Akoko Edo, the last minute project maneuvering of the APC in Igarra where the community access road which had become almost impassable was leveled out over night with laid-on granite stone dust and graded into a motorable condition within a space of a few days to the elections with the promise that the APC under Governor Obaseki will complete the asphalting immediately after swearing in. Needless to say that with the track record of the Oshiomhole’s government in project execution, virtually all the votes went the way of APC.

The Central Senatorial District has been a stronghold of the PDP, where Chief Tony Anenih held sway until the 2012 governorship election, when Governor Oshiomhole won in all the 18 local government areas in a landslide fashion during his re-election for a second term in office, in which he defeated Charles Airhiavbere of the PDP.

The APC again won in all the 18 local government areas during the 2013 local government councils election, though the party’s victory in Esan North East, Chief Anenih’s home local government was controversial, as the PDP claimed it was robbed of its victory there.

In the current dispensation, things are however different. The PDP governorship running mate and former Chairman of Esan North East, Mr. John Yakubu, is from the Central Senatorial District and popular among his people.

In the months leading to the election, the people of the Central Senatorial District felt a strong sense of marginalisation, for removal of the position of Speaker of the State House of Assembly from the area to Edo South and second, APC’s decision not to concede the position of Deputy governorship to the area. Sensing danger, the APC has however restored the speakership position to the Central Senatorial District when the Esan people made a strong case that the position of the Deputy Governor was too dormant and therefore, insisted in controlling one arm of government which the Legislature represents.

Nonetheless, a combination of John Yakubu’s acceptance and coupled with a sense of marginalisation in the minds of many in the District, as well as Chief Anenih’s factor, the PDP succeeded in running away with victory in four of the five LGAs in this area but the APC, whose State Chairman and House Speaker are from the area, did put up a strong showing in Igueben Local Government which the APC won to the chagrin of Chief Tom Ikimi a PDP strongman in the area.

As a factor and political voice, Senator Daisy Danjuma who won the Edo South Senatorial seat 2003 – 2007 is an Edo personality who did not feel compelled to toe party choice as she revealed that if Solomon Edebiri had been put forward as the Party’s flag bearer in the Edo 2016 Polls, perhaps the response of voters would have been different. According to her, putting forward someone already known to have functioned in a past government of no particular achievement was a disservice to the Party and the people of Edo State.

Oshiomhole’s performance

Another strong factor the APC banked on for electoral success is the performance of the Oshiomhole’s government in its two terms in office. During the campaigns, some opposition political parties openly acknowledged O?shiomhole’s impressive performance. How the people appreciate the performance and reward the APC again with their votes was a momentous event that people looked forward to from the result of the election.

The country’s current economic downturn occasioned by the crash of international price of crude oil was a huge campaign factor in the Edo gubernatorial election. The opposition parties, particularly the PDP, took advantage of the economic crisis in its campaigns by adopting the slogan of “change the change”, urging the people not vote for APC who they accuse of being responsible for the recession in the country.? And the people believed the PDP including the fact that the APC made rice to be beyond the reach of the common man, therefore, the choice for abundant rice availability was Ize-Iyamu. This changed the minds of many old people who were not conversant with the international involvement in the prevailing world wide recession to vote PDP. It was a master stroke of a campaign issue.

Notwithstanding, the two parties have showed their strength, campaigned and boasted thoroughly and the result of the election has proven who truly owns Edo land. From all indications, the election was keen with the APC emerging victorious.

Jubilation and protests

Soon after the declaration of results, spontaneous jubilation and protest enveloped Benin City, the Edo state capital. APC supporters trooped out in large numbers, holding brooms, the party symbol, singing and dancing along the major roads and streets of Benin while supporters of the PDP embarked on sporadic protest.

However, PDP supporters’ protest against the results along the streets was short lived following a heavy down pour which drove all the protesters into their homes with the exception of Barr. Chris Agbonwanegbe, the PDP Chief Party Agent who refused to sign the result sheet as compiled by the INEC Returning Officer.

According to Agbonwanegbe, “my Party has rejected the results and therefore directed me not to sign it because the figures therein were manipulated by the APC”.

On a visit to the Obaseki campaign headquarters along Aiguobasinmwin in GRA, Benin City Independent met with another round of jubilation by a large crowd who were seen alongside other senior members of the APC popping exotic wine by party supporters.

Reacting on behalf of the Institute for Benin Studies, Aiko Obobaifo said that any outcome different from Godwin Obaseki emerging as winner of the election would have represented the worst case of demonstrating ingratitude by the Edo people to a government that has completely gentrified the hitherto considered ancient city and state. Only enemies of progress and those scheming to further aggregate state funds to particular persons would rue the non realization of their selfish intentions.

In his acceptance speech, the governor-elect of Edo state assured that all the campaign promises he made will be fulfilled to ensure a greater Edo state for all, irrespective of party affiliation.

In his words: “My good People of Edo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the results of the 2016 Edo State gubernatorial poll, and I have been declared as the winner of the election.

“It is with great humility and abiding faith in God Almighty that I accept this pronouncement of my victory as the next Governor of Edo State. This is a historic victory for all Edo citizens and our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). It underscores clearly your preference for the continuity and consolidation of our programmes.

“More importantly, by your votes you clearly affirmed your faith in my ability to lead our state forward into a new era. This is a responsibility Philip Shaibu, my running mate, and myself do not take lightly. Our promise to build a state anchored on a productive economy that will transform and empower our citizens is sincere.

“We promised jobs. We promised empowerment of our citizens. We promised improved social welfare services, and a more secured state. We will strive to deliver on all of these promises. As we travelled all over our great state selling our programmes, we also took note of your concerns and problems, and I want to assure you that we will do everything in our power to address them.

“Let me, at this point, sincerely salute the courage of all those who came out to exercise their franchise in spite of the intimidating maneuvers of merchants of violence to derail the conduct of a peaceful, free and fair election; you are the heroes of this election! You saw through their propaganda and lies, and you made the right decision.

“I am happy that the elections were generally peaceful with no loss of lives; I salute the spirit of Edo people. I also want to commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as well as the security agencies, for their role in maintaining peace and order during the elections.”

He also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for his profound commitment to a new order in Nigeria; Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for his vision and singular focus on the progress and development of the state; members of his campaign team, led by the Director-General, Osarodion Ogie; his amiable wife, Betsy; and his entire family, friends, volunteers and all supporters who worked tirelessly to help us achieve this victory. Your hard work and dedication has set the tone for a new era of development in Edo State.

The PDP has promised to challenge the result in court therefore, further analysis could be considered sub-judice and until then, let us keep our fingers crossed.

Comments (1)

  • Oct 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm sunny

    i congratulate godwin. please put the first because they have show their love for development . GOD BLESS THE PEOPLE OF EDO. aya for wike, okowa.

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