BY Taiwo Amodu and Ndubuisi Orji
Last week, precisely on September 28, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, was declared winner in the Edo State governorship election, having polled a total of 319,483 votes to defeat his main rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who polled a total of 253,173 votes.
Announcing the results, the Returning Officer, Professor Kayode Soremekun, said that: “Godwin Obaseki, having fulfilled the requirements of the law and got the highest votes, is the winner and is returned elected.”
It was a declaration that was greeted with excitement in the camp of the supporters of the APC candidate, while candidate of the PDP and other chieftains of the party from the state with the sobriquet, Heart
Beat of the Nation, squealed over it.
APC’s victory , eight years after it registered its presence in the state (as the defunct Action Congress) will for a long time alter the political equation in the state; new power brokers are being thrown up while the forces that have been displaced will continue to lick their wounds and struggle for relevance. Daily Sun chronicles the winners and losers of Edo nerve racking power game. Tony Anenih: for the 8 years that PDP governed the state under former governor, Lucky Igbinedion, the former Works Minister was the de facto godfather— the power behind the throne who decided who got what, when and how. Since the PDP was also in control of the federal government, Chief Anenih also had under his firm grip, the entire South- south geo-political zone.
But the judgment of the Court of Appeal in the Edo State election petition in November 11, 2008, which removed the PDP candidate in the 2007 governorship election, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor and declared the candidate of the defunct Action Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the duly elected governor was the beginning of political diminution of Chief Anenih. His first attempt to regain the state was rebuffed as the Edo electorate rejected the PDP candidate, Major -General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) in the July 2012 election.
The former chairman, PDP Board of Trustees and his loyalists could not regain last week what they lost eight years ago. Daily Sun gathered that some PDP stalwarts had assisted Oshiomhole greatly during the electioneering and while the court processes were on, in 2008 to gain power in the first instance.
Oshiomhole: Enters the new godfather The former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC) won the governorship election in the 2007 general elections, despite the massive war machine of the erstwhile ruling party. But he could only reclaim his mandate in November 2008 after rigorous litigations, albeit with discreet support of the acclaimed godfather of the state politics.
Pained by his alienation from government by Professor Osunbor, the man he ‘fixed’ in office, Anenih’s backing was all Oshiomhole needed to bring startling revelations before the election petition tribunal which ultimately gave a favourable judgment having been swayed by overwhelming evidence before it.
But for a man who craved for a new order, his romance with Anenih was short-lived. Surrounded by hostile neighbours, being the only state in South-South not governed by PDP, the comrade governor managed to win his second term election, as performance endeared him to the people who were determined to put everything on the line to ensure his victory. Eight years in the saddle, the comrade governor has metamorphosed into the master of real politics.
Despite internal dissension within his party over the process that produced Godwin Obaseki, as candidate for the election, and the elite gang up against Oshiomhole and all that he represents, the outgoing governor pulled a stunt last Wednesday, as his anointed candidate won the election.
In his post-election media briefing, Oshiomhole relished his pummelling of the PDP and its ubiquitous stalwarts, saying “Just look at the result of the election; Igbinedion lost his ward, Ikimi was defeated in Igueben and that is because these people have lost touch with the people. The outgoing governor may have been silent on his new status in Edo politics. But having supplanted Chief Anenih, and successfully fixing Obaseki, Oshiomhole has emerged the new godfather in Edo politics. He is the new ‘Mr. Fix It’.
Oshiomhole’s relationship with Ize-Iyamu
When Governor Oshiomhole contested for his first and second tenure, the Redeemed Pastor was his man Friday. He was even the Director General of his campaign, when the former NLC president contested for his second term in 2012. But as the saying goes “there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy in politics, but permanent interest”. Oshiomhole and Ize-Iyamu fell out after the former’s re-election for a second term. So, with the former SSG picking the PDP governorship ticket to challenge Oshiomhole’s candidate, the stage was set for a showdown between both men and their supporters. For those who followed activities before and during the election, both friends who turned political enemies did not pretend that they had a score to settle. As it turned out eventually, Oshiohmole laughed last. Tom Ikimi: The former Foreign Affairs Minister has always been a strong force in PDP, as he wielded influence during the eight years of Lucky Igbinedion’s administration. Ikimi dumped the party for the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria where he later worked for Comrade
Oshiomhole’s victory in the 2012 election. He was a central figure in the formation of the APC. Following the crisis that trailed its national convention which threw up Oyegun as national chairman, Ikimi resigned his membership of the APC and returned to the PDP.
Prior to last the election, the former Foreign Affairs Minister had threatened to partake in sinking APC in Edo State.
INEC: The jinx of inconclusive elections -Before the Edo State election, the electoral body under the leadership of Professor Mahmood Yakubu has been dubbed in crimson, as lacking the capacity to organize free, fair, tidy and conclusive elections.
But after series of inconclusive polls, the electoral body for the first time since Yakubu assumed office was able to conclude an election in the first ballot.
Since October 21, 2015 when Yakubu was appointed the INEC chairman, the commission has conducted four major elections. They include the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, the local government election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the last Edo governorship poll. The first three were inconclusive. Against that backdrop, many expected that the Edo governorship election would not be any better.
However, amid concern that the Edo State election would be inconclusive like recent ones before them, INEC proved cynics wrong as it concluded the election in the first ballot. The commission declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr Godwin Obaseki winner.
According to the INEC Chief Returning Officer, Professor Kayode Somerekun, he scored a total of 319 483 votes to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and 17 others. The PDP candidate polled a total of 253173 votes.
Out of a total of 1900223 registered voters, only 622039 voters were accredited to vote, representing 32.74 per cent of the registered voters. With its recent successful outing in Edo, Professor Yakubu and his men, may appear to have broken the jinx of inconclusive elections.