…4 factors that will define the contest
By Ndubuisi Orji
WHO succeeds Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the governor of Edo State? Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu or Godwin Obaseki? It is no more news that the two major political parties in the state,
the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) last week, nominated their candidates for the September 10, governorship contest.
While the PDP nominated Ize-Iyamu as its candidate, the APC in a tension-soaked primaries settled for Obaseki as
its standard bearer. With the nomination process over, the stage is now set for a test of might between the two political parties. Although the APC and PDP are not the only two parties contesting this year’s governorship election, they are the major contenders. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), 9 political parties will be fielding candidates for the election.
But the September 10 governorship contest is unique in many respects and may perhaps
be the toughest since the creation of the state. The reason is not far-fetched. The contest will be prosecuted on many levels. It is not going to be just a contest between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu or PDP vs APC. It is going to be a battle between two families, battle of ego amongst political leaders and maybe a battle of ideas.
By and large, it is going to be a battle to determine between the APC and the PDP who controls Edo politics. The PDP lost the state in 2008 after being in the saddle for a little close to 10 years. Since then, the state
has been controlled by the APC.
But the PDP has been staging a comeback in recent times. In the 2015 general election, the PDP apart from defeating the APC in the presidential election, also won two of the three senatorial seats and five out of the nine federal constituencies.
However, in the House of Assembly election, the APC won 20 seats, leaving the PDP with only four seats. But out of the four seats won by the PDP is the seat for Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s constituency. Therefore, the coming election is an opportunity for the two parties to seek to consolidate their hold on the politics of
Clash of egos The September 10 contest is not just a governorship election.
It would also be a clash of egos, not only between the two candidates but also their backers.
Although the Edo State governor will not be on the ballot on September 10, he sees the governorship battle as directly his own. Therefore, it is a battle of supremacy between the PDP candidate and the governor of the state for two reasons. One, like most governors, Oshiomhole
wants to install his favourite as his successor. Secondly, he wants to affirm his supremacy in the politics of the state.
Achieving the two objectives will perhaps be his greatest political goals.
Oshiomhole is a man of “ war”, who has fought many battles, winning many and losing a few, starting from his days as president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) till his advent into politics. Ironically, in his first political battle in politics, Ize-Iyamu was one of the “ generals” that led him to victory.
On his part, the PDP candidate can best be described as a master political strategist, with vast political network. Recall that Ize-Iyamu had played a key role in Oshiomhole’s emergence as governor in 2008. It was the Grace Group founded by the former SSG that metamorphosed into the AC on whose platform
the governor contested and won the 2007 general election.
In 2012, the PDP candidate was the Director General of the Oshiomhole reelection campaign.
Even the Director General of the Obaseki Campaign, Mr Osarodion Ogie was the secretary of the Grace Group.
Therefore, the election is a contest of two friends turned foes. So, to some extent, both men know the strengths and
weaknesses of their opponents.
However, as the saying goes, there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy in politics.
Oshiomhole and Ize Iyamu went their separate ways about two years ago, as a result of irreconcilable political differences which those in the know ascribed to the ambition of the former SSG. Personal pride and ego, no doubt will be one of the things at stake.
Both men know what is involved and as such are already strategizing on how best to outwit the other and win the minds of the people in the September 10 contest.
One of the key factors that will define the Edo State governorship election is the politics that led to the emergence of the candidates of both parties. In the APC, Obaseki defeated 11 other candidates to emerge as the party’s flag bearer. While in the PDP, Ize Iyamu defeated two others to emerge the candidate.
However, unlike in the PDP, the APC ran a very acrimonious primary election, which greatly polarized the party in the period leading to the primary election. Many had alleged that some powerful forces in the party tried to muzzle other aspirants out of the race for the party’s ticket, so as to pave the way for the emergence of the anointed candidate.
Not a few of the candidates see the governor as interfering with the primaries. Sources close to the deputy governor, Pius Odubu had repeatedly accused the state government of hounding his deputy, because of the utter insistence of running for the party primaries.
The APC state publicity secretary, Comrade Godwin Erahahon had in an interview with Daily Sun two days to the party’s primaries described the action of some of the gladiators as “madness”. In fact, two of the aspirants, Chiefs
Ken Imasuagbon and Chris Ogiemwonyi had openly rejected the outcome of the primaries, alleging that it was
massively rigged in favour of the party’s candidate.
After the primaries, the governor as well as the APC at the state and national level has been making frantic efforts
to reconcile all the aggrieved interest groups within the party. Daily Sun
gathered that Obaseki had met with Odubu and most of those who contested the party’s ticket with him
while the national secretariat of the party has also stepped into the feud, all in a bid to ensure that the APC goes to the general election united.
Also, in the PDP, there are pockets of dissatisfaction with the outcome of the primaries albeit in a very subdued manner. Daily Sun gathered that the candidate and the party are also making efforts to nip in the bud whatever crisis that may arise from its nomination process.
Sources close to Ize-Iyamu said the PDP candidate has been reaching out to the other two aspirants.
All the aspirants prior
to the primaries had pledged to rally round whoever emerges as the party gubernatorial candidate. But if they will keep to that pact is another altogether.
There are also indications that Obaseki had met with one of the PDP gubernatorial aspirants to woo him to his side.
While unconfirmed sources say the factional national chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is also making overtures to the aspirants.
By and large, the ability of the parties to effectively manage discontent arising from the primaries will greatly affect their fortunes in the general election.
Deputy governorship candidate Another key factor that will influence the September 10 governorship
poll is the choice of the deputy governorship candidates and where they are from.
Although, both parties are yet to name their running mates, informed sources say while the PDP is looking towards Edo Central, the APC wants to pick its deputy governorship candidate from Edo North where Oshiomhole
If the parties go ahead and pick their running mate from these areas as speculated, it will rub off on them positively
or negatively. In the case of the PDP, Edo Central is the power base of the party. Therefore, picking the running mate from there will just consolidate the hold of the the party on the zone. Apart, from the 2012 general election where Oshiomhole won the area, PDP had always won majority of the votes in the area in every election.
If picking a running mate from Central works for the PDP, the APC’s plan to pick a deputy governorship candidate from the North may also work in favour of the APC. Edo North has three sub ethnic groups- Akoko Edo, Owan and Etsako. Oshiomhole is from Etstako. To reap maximum benefit from ceding the running mate to Edo North, the ruling party must guard against picking somebody from Etsako. Sources say if it goes to Owan or Akoko Edo, it will help to galvanise the people effectively.
Speculations that the APC may pick its deputy governorship candidate from Edo North notwithstanding, party leaders from Edo Central are making a strong case for the position.
However, in the event that APC picks his deputy governorship candidate from the North, the party may have effectively alienated Edo Central and would have to work real hard to be able to sell its candidate to
people of the area.
The past as a burden The antecedents of the two candidates, their families and political parties will also play a
key role in what happens at the governorship election.
Both the APC and PDP candidates are scions of two illustrious
Benin families, the Obaseki and Ize- Iyamu families. The progenitors of both men have played key roles in the decisive moments in the history of the Benin kingdom. Expectedly, these roles may be subjected to scrutiny as the campaign picks up properly.
Besides, the achievement of the PDP and APC administrations in the state may also come up. The achievements of the
PDP and administrations havebeen subjects of controversy. So, it may actually not count in deciding the next governor of the state, especially as the same people who called the shots under PDP governments are the same people calling the shots in the present administration, with the exception of a few.
Edo State, no doubt is set for a very intriguing and tension-soaked governorship campaigns.
From now on, there will be no dull moments until maybe after the polls, as the politicians tear up themselves.