Against all predictions of violence and bloodshed, the Edo State governorship election which took place last Saturday, proved bookmakers wrong as it was largely peaceful and adjudged by observers as free, fair, and credible.
Before the election, the entire state was gripped with tension and anxiety, warranting doomsayers to give a damning verdict that it would be bloody.
Perhaps the violence experienced in the build-up to the election gave the wrong impression that it would be blood-spattered and gory.
Even this reporter was advised by some “concerned friends” not to go for the election coverage or at best to remain in the hotel room and make use of Channels or TVC television reports so as to be alive to file stories to Lagos head office.
Despite all the peace initiatives and peace pacts signed as well as the presence of a large number of security agents, most Nigerians were still skeptical that the election will be nothing but brutal, dreadful, horrible with dangerous atrocious linkages.
The hype was so heavy and to see that the prediction of violence and bloodshed did not come to pass during the election, security agencies had to be sufficiently mobilised to provide a safe, secure and conducive environment for the poll.
All the security operatives were on ground: Army, police, Road safety, navy, immigration, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) etc.
To show that they are fully on the alert of the perceived danger ahead, security agencies on Thursday, two days to the election carried out its last joint exercise tagged “Operation Show of Force”, aimed at alerting Edo residents of the security agencies’ readiness for the election and to confront any violence in its deadly efficiency.
But after all the anxiety and tension that trailed the election in Edo, popularly known as the “Heartbeat of the Nation”, the election finally came, and despite protests from the All Progressives Party (APC), Governor Obaseki was finally given the INEC’s final results sheet following his victory in the election.
According to the official result, Obaseki polled 307,955 votes to defeat his closet rival, Ize-Iyamu of the APC, who scored 223,619 votes. Other 14 candidates representing their political parties came behind with All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the third position.
With the final results announced, there are bound to be Winners and Losers, which include and not limited to the following:
There is no doubt that the Edo people displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation, and brutalisation. The victory will not have been possible without the steadfastness and dedication of the determined Edo people who stood firm in the face of provocation.
The Great People of Edo spoke loud and clear that votes count only when the people are determined to take their destiny in their hands. The people proved that no man or group of men can stop the collective will of the people.
Undeniably, Obaseki is the man of the moment. Messages of goodwill and felicitation have been pouring to him from many quarters since his energy-sapping victory, with the latest, coming from President Buhari. All are in agreement that he has achieved a feat in the poll, if nothing else, the demystification of god-fatherism.
The governor proved that with the support of the masses, one could retire godfathers, tame lions, and tigers.
As observed in many political quarters, Obaseki’s victory was not only a vote of confidence in him by the Edo people but also an outright repudiation of god-fatherism and politics of impunity.
The INEC is believed to have lived up to the charge of its Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu who urged them to prove to Nigerians that the success in the Edo election was no fluke but the standard in the conduct of elections. True to his call, the electoral empire showed that free, fair, and credible election is possible in Nigeria. INEC has proved that they are capable of conducting free and credible elections.
Of course, there is no respite yet for INEC as the attention shifts to Ondo State where the Commission will in three weeks conduct another governorship election.
The commission will after the gubernatorial election in Ondo conduct a series of bye-elections in other 11 States.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Buhari is a winner for allowing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to perform their constitutional functions without undue interference. He defended the beauty of democracy by ensuring there was no meddling in the process. Buhari has said at different fora that he is passionately committed to a free and fair election but Nigerians doubted him especially his silence on what transpired at the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship election. The Kogi election was so bad that even the United States of America had to issue a visa ban on Yahaya Bello. Even before the Edo election, Buhari warned against the do-or-die mentality and ensured
The various security agents adhered to instruction. They remained to a large extent apolitical, neutral, and professional in the conduct of their duties, a free hand defending the democracy and allowing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to perform their constitutional functions without interference.
Phillip Shaibu: He is the Deputy Governor and has stood behind Obaseki as the Rock of Gibraltar. His loyalty has paid off as he is also a winner.
Dickson Imasogie: He is one of the founding fathers of the party in the state and he has always been there, come rain come sun. His commitment to the party is legendary.
Anselm Ojezua: Ojezua is the factional chairman of the APC in the state who perhaps helped in frustrating the political ambition of Ize-Iyamu. All things being equal, he may likely benefit from the Obaseki new political arrangement.
Frank Okiye: He is the Speaker of the House of Assembly who has remained faithful. A great fighter who showed enough strength in the re-election project.
Mathew Iduoriyekemwen: One of the committed hands that are known to have worked for the success of Obaseki’s re-election.
Anthony Aziegbemi: He is the current chairman of the PDP and remained committed when the going was rough.
Osarodion Ogie: The current Secretary to State Government (SSG) is believed to have worked and committed time and money to the reelection project.
Raymond Dokpesi: He is the owner of AIT and Ray power communications. A staunch member of the party, who has suffered so much intimidation but remained strong and committed to the party. There is no doubt that his business is going to boom more now that he can easily move into Osadebe House for big business negotiations.
Senator Odion Ugbesia: The former lawmaker is also one of those who was committed to the second journey to re-elect Obaseki. There is no doubt that he will be carried along.
Adams Oshiomhole: He was so to speak the political godfather that gave Edo people Governor Obaseki, his successor. Due to unsettled disagreements, they fell apart and all efforts for amicable resolution proved abortive. Before the Saturday election, the former APC national chairman acted like a demi-god. To show the level of his influence, at a time, over 40 appointees with Obaseki’s government resigned and left him because of their loyalty to Oshiomhole.
Many critical observers believe that the outcome of the poll marks a sudden end to a hazy profile that he had flaunted since his days as a Labour Leader. Political watchers are of the view that unless help and rehabilitation come his way, he seems to be on the way to political oblivion.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu: The governorship candidate of the APC lost to Obaseki. This is not the first time he is suffering defeat in the hands of Obaseki as both met in the 2016 governorship contest but then Ize-Iyamu ran on the platform of the PDP. He was upbeat and confident of victory going by all the “perceived forces” behind him but he was again dazed by the Obaseki magic.
Captain Honsa Okunbo: He is a business mogul and a known great supporter and financier of the All Progressives Congress. At a time, he boasted that he will spend his last card to ensure that APC is in-charge of Osadebe House.
Lee Ikpea: He is an industrialist and business entrepreneur who is known to be a big spender for the APC. Now that the battle is over, he has lost.
Tony Kabaka Adun: He is another major casualty of the Edo governorship poll. In the build up to the election, Governor Obaseki reportedly destroyed his hotel and he had no choice but to join forces with the APC during the battle. Of course, part of the permutation may be that if APC is victorious, he may be compensated in one way or the other.
Pius Odubu: He was a former deputy governor in the state. The story is that he was aggrieved at his removal from the NDDC board; he fingered Obaseki as responsible for that and since then, he joined forces to ensure that the governor is disgraced out of power.
Chief Francis Inegbeneki: He is a strong APC chieftain from Edo Central and has been very faithful to the party at all times. He will be disappointed at what happened.
The 14 lawmakers of Edo state House of Assembly: They had their Speaker, Victor Edoro and they were all committed to the fight to upstage Obaseki but they finally lost. Perhaps, if Obaseki had lost, they were sure that there will be an easy ride back to the state Assembly.