FRANCIS OGBUAGU reports on the proxy political battle between Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as they lead the candidates of their respective political parties to the field in state House of Assembly election
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, during the formation of the Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council in Benin City, on October 21, 2022, told party faithful that those who call themselves “Obidients” would soon run out of steam, while himself and the PDP will cruise to victory in the general election. The governor further told his audience, who seemed captivated by his seeming political dexterity that “henceforth governance will take the backseat, while campaigns for Atiku/Okowa and other candidates of the ruling party takes front seat. People who say they are ‘Obidients,’ of course, they will be, but they will run out of steam.”
He added: “We know how to manage elections. How many people can do what we have done? They cannot even form their campaign council, not to talk of having timetable for the election. You get it! This election is ours to lose and by the grace of God, we will not lose it! “Edo is the home of PDP, I urge every member to join hands with Atiku Abubakar to rescue the country…..Continue Reading
By the grace of God, PDP will rescue this great country. Atiku is coming to salvage the country. “PDP is one in Edo, no division. Edo is the home of PDP; every other party is an appendage. Edo PDP is not in contention. The election is hand-to-hand combat. We have done it before, we will do it again.”
Despite his boast, the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections showed that Obaseki was far from the reality on ground as he could not win his unit, ward or any local government area in the state. The governor had during his re-election bid in 2020 after a prolonged fight with his erstwhile political godfather, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, moved from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the PDP and won 13 out of the 18 local government areas in the state.
However, barely three years after that feat, Obaseki and his party were roundly beaten in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections. In Edo South Senatorial District, where the Governor Obaseki hails from, little known Naden Imasuen of the Labour Party (LP) defeated the duo of Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen (a former Majority Leader of the Edo State House of Assembly) of the PDP and Hon. Valentine Asuen of the All Progressives Congress to clinch the senatorial seat. In Obaseki’s Oredo Federal Constituency, where the PDP and APC fielded Hon. Sunny Aguebor and Osaro Obazee (a former chairman of Oredo Local Government Area), LP’s candidate, Hon. Iyawe Eseosa, emerged tops against more political sophisticated opponents. Unlike Obaseki, the political dexterity of ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole was unquestionably evident. The former national chairman of the APC won the Edo North senatorial seat. Oshiomhole also led the APC to pocket five federal constituencies in the state. They are Akoko-Edo (Peter Akpatason), Etsako (Dekery) Anamero), Owan (Julius Ihonvbere), Esan South- East/Esan North East (Odianosen Okojie) and Ovia (Dennis Idahosa).
Results of the polls in Edo Central, the traditional home of the PDP and where the late Chief Anthony Anenih held sway for years, were even more embarrassing. The APC clinched the senatorial through Hon. Monday Okpebholo and a federal constituency seat (Esan South East/EsanNorth East) through Okojie. But for APC’s recent incursion in the zone, no other political party has made inroad in the zone since 1999. With the presidential and National Assembly elections settled except Orhionmwon/Uhunmwonde federal constiency, which had its elections declared inconclusive, and Esan Central/Esan West/Igueben federal constituency, which had its election postponed, there is tension across Edo as Obaseki continues to meet several stakeholders in the state, soliciting for votes for PDP’s candidates for the state House of Assembly poll.
The governor’s plan to maintain control of the 24-member Edo State House of Assembly triggered crisis owing to the fact that only 10 out of the 24 elected members were inaugurated since 2019, leaving 14 others out of job. The opposition APC cashing in on the dwindling popularity of the governor recently alleged that the ruling PDP has perfected plans to rig the state Assembly election after it suffered a heavy defeat during the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state. Edo APC chairman, Col. David Imuse (rtd), who spoke with journalists at the party’s state secretariat, however, said he hopes all the various arms of security agencies are on red alert.
He alleged that there were plans by the PDP with Mr. Godwin Obaseki’s financial support “to compromise the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials and ad hoc staff to bypass the use of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and generally disrupt the House of Assembly election in the state through the use of thugs, with a view to disperse voters at polling units in order to have opportunity to rig the election and subvert the will of the people in or-der to achieve victory at all cost.”
He said since the ruling party in the state suffered massive losses across the state on February 25, “the PDP has held series of meetings at various locations to perfect its nefarious plan to ensure that it disrupts the electoral process, compromise INEC staff and deploy maximum violence.” Imuse added: “They have to buy INEC staff to sabotage the election as described above, and also to specifically ensure that the original result sheets are neither brought to the polling units nor the ward and local government collation centres.
“Since the IREV malfunctioned on February 25, they reasoned that they would calmly write new results when the representatives of other political parties are dispersed at the various collation centres in the belief that results had been announced.” But the Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media Project, Crusoe Osagie, who dismissed the claims by the APC, said that he is confident that PDP will sweep the state Assembly election.
His words: “Like it happened in 2020, when Edo people stood with the governor despite the bullying and intimidation by Oshiomhole and his paymasters, Edo people will again rise in defence of the governor at the state Assembly election; vote massively for the PDP and elect a House controlled by the PDP. Obaseki has never placed his confidence in any man or godfather. He has always placed his confidence in God and the people.” On alleged plot by Oshiomhole to control the state Assembly and possibly use its members to unseat Obaseki, the governor’s aide said: “It is curious that it is Oshiomhole, who has come forward with the agenda of the APC and not any of the candidates. One wonders if Oshiomhole will be a member of the Edo State House of Assembly after the polls…….continue Reading
This, obviously, points to who and where the instructions will be issued if the party’s candidates are mistakenly elected into the House. “Edo people can see the handwriting on the wall and we are certain that they will troop out en masse to vote candidates of the PDP in the election to sustain the developmental strides of the Governor Obaseki-led government.”