The die is cast in the gubernatorial election in Edo State, where the immediate past chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, wants to show that he holds the ace of power in that state. He can claim to have helped Governor Godwin Obaseki to emerge as his replacement as governor in the state. At that time, he did not reckon that he would not emerge godfather of the state’s politics as he may have hoped. He acknowledged that Obaseki was a prime mover of the successes he made when he was in office. But both men have fallen apart politically, and have pitched tents in different camps. The People’s Democratic Party(PDP), where Obaseki has obtained the ticket to run for the September gubernatorial election, was the opposition he fought. The tables have turned, given that Obaseki and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, his opponent , four years ago, have exchanged platforms. They saying is indeed true that, in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies. Both men have interest in the governorship of Edo State. It would be difficult to know if they have also exchanged supporters. It is hard to know if both contestants have switched parties with their supporters. Election results will show who holds the ace in that state.
Meanwhile, both parties have begun the battle, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State leads the APC campaign council and he has the duty to keep the state within the fold. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who leads the campaign council for the PDP has the duty to get the state to join the others where they are: the PDP.
Ganduje is leading the campaign for the APC just as Wike is chairman of the campaign council for the PDP. Ganduje fired the first shot when he said, “We know the PDP made Wike the campaign council chairman. But I can assure you that we shall isolate him in an isolation centre and, before he recovers, the election would have been over.”
Wike would take no such threat. He fired back: “Nobody can intimidate us in the election, I read in the pages of newspapers that Ganduje said he will isolate me until the election is over…who is supposed to be isolated? A man who pockets dollars from contractors is not isolated but now said that I should be isolated. If he wants to bring his dollars to Edo, I can assure him that we shall chop his dollars and still vote who we want, we are Niger Delta people. We know how we do things.”
The comment by Ganduje can be interpreted to mean an intention to use ‘Federal Might’ in the election, but the PDP has reminded the ruling party that former governor of Edo State, Oshiomhole, won elections in the state as a member of the opposition, which is why they insist that the Edo elections must be free and fair. They have reminded the ruling party that Oshiomhole became governor as a member of the opposition.
Oshiomhole has gone back to his vomit, namely, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, whom he worked against four years ago. There are, indeed, no permanent enemies in politics, which is why Ize-Iyamu and Oshiomhole have become political allies once again. They are driven by the desire to get the governorship of Edo State, one which has brought hitherto political foes to the threshold of political friends.
The puzzle is to hear what Oshiomhole would say on the campaign rounds about Ize-Iyamu in distinction to the mud he plastered on the same man four years ago. Ize-Iyamu was head of his campaign team when he ran for office, but they fell apart on succession, apparently because Oshiomhole had anointed another successor, forcing Ize-Iyamu to leave the ruling party for the opposition.
The former governor took Obaseki by the hand on the campaign train and told the people that he had found a worthy successor in him. He poured invectives on Ize-Iyamu, including unprintable words and allegations bordering on cultism and murder.
Now he would go round with Ize-Iyamu and renounce those statements, a clear indication that lies and mudslinging are veritable instruments in politics.
Both parties would throw punches from the same direction. The power of incumbency dangles either way because the APC is in power at the centre while Obaseki has taken his incumbency at the state level to another party. The die is cast. Now, both parties have opened a war of words. Wike and Ganduje, both veterans in election battles, are leading the campaign councils at the national level for the opposing parties. Edo is the lone party in the South-South region where the ruling APC is in power. Ganduje has the duty to keep the party in the house.
The people of Edo say Obaseki has effectively delivered dividends of democracy but it has also been proven, over time, that elections in Nigeria go beyond performance. In Nigeria, where political godfathers reign without restraint, performance hardly counts when they are hell-bent on taking their pound of flesh. In Edo, Oshiomhole, who helped Obaseki to power, wants to have his pound of flesh because the governor wants to be his own man.
Oshiomhole has gone back to his vomit, namely Pastor Ize-Iyamu, whom he worked against four years ago.
The people have to show that they hold the power. They decide who governs them in the face of a power tussle where politicians seem not to put the masses in the equation.
If Obaseki wins, the challenge will be for him to refrain from becoming the new political godfather, a phenomenon Oshiomhole killed in the state, only to vigorously seek to install himself as a godfather.