By David Owens
NOT many expected he would emerge as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State to fly the party’s flag.
But Mr Godwin Obaseki, against all odds, especially with the support of the outgoing governor, Adams Oshiomhole, is expected to lead the party to victory in the September 10 governorship election.
Prior to the APC governorship primary, political pundits predicted that some of the APC bigwigs were sure of clinching the party’s ticket.
Obaseki’s political ambition is no more news to many Edo people, but what is spectacular about his ambition is the fact that, since he joined the governorship race in the state late 2015, political tension in Edo APC has heightened.
Tongues were wagging as to where he came from.
Pundits were skeptical as to whether or not he could fit in.
But at the end of the day, Obaseki took all by surprise.
Interestingly, not many expected that as Chairman of the Edo State Economic and Strategy Team, Obaseki would be a force to reckon with as far as politics of the state was concerned.
As a matter of fact, Obaseki, perceived to be Oshiomhole’s choice as successor, became a source of worry to other contenders.
Meanwhile, when his name was first mentioned in APC circles, he was relegated to the background.
With heavyweights, who were jostling to clinch the APC governorship ticket, the likes of the deputy governor, Dr Pius Odubu, a former Minister of State Works, Dr Chris Ogienwonyi, a former governor of the state, Prof. Osarhiemien Osunbor, a former Commander, Army Finance Corps, Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, Blessing Agbomhere, Prof. Federick Amadasun, Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula, Arch. Austin Ilenre Emuan, Comrade Peter Esele, Kenneth Imasuagbon and Mrs. Agbarha Justina, it was indeed a rat race.
But like many outgoing governors in Nigeria, having a successor was usually paramount to them.
And Oshiomhole was not going to leave any stone unturned as far as the election of his successor was concerned. Ahead of the APC primary, there was speculation that the governor decided to support Obaseki because he (Obaseki) is an in-law of Prince Clem Agba, the state Commissioner for Public Utilities and Environment, who is said to be the only commissioner to have the listening ear of Oshiomhole.
Another speculation was that Obaseki is a confidant of business mogul and multi-billionaire, Aliko Dangote. He was said to be a consultant to Dangote and drafted to the state government to help boost the wealthy Nigerian’s economic activities in Edo.
But there is no doubt that some factors ensured Obaseki prevailed over other aspirants.
One of such factors was the incumbent governor’s track record in Edo, made possible by Obaseki’s headship of the state’s economic and strategy team, which had worked tirelessly to take Edo’s internally generated revenue from hundreds of millions of naira per month to several billions, thus triggering unprecedented economic and infrastructural development of the state under the comrade governor.
This gave Obaseki an edge over others during the primary.
Being a Benin man, and from a prominent family in the kingdom, was another factor that prompted APC delegates to throw their weight behind Obaseki during the shadow election.
His vast business and financial expertise also counted in his favour.
With his rich pedigree, Obaseki, obviously, has what it takes to take Edo to the next destination of development when he defeats the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu, in the September 10 governorship election.
•Owen, a political affairs analyst, lives in Benin-City.