Edo: Obaseki’s emergence and PDP’s chances

Obaseki displays PDP membership card

The emergence of Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki, as the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following his defection has further confirmed that the September 19, 2020, governorship election in state will not be a walk on the park. In this report, ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU writes on the chances of the PDP and its candidate.

The second term bid of the Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has been marked by twists and turns. Obaseki, who until June 16, 2020, was a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), went through a tortuous journey to secure the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The incumbent governor was disqualified from contesting the governorship primary election on the platform of the APC over allegations of discrepancies in certificates presented to the party’s governorship election screening committee.

His disqualification is widely believed to be the fall out of his face-off with his predecessor and erstwhile benefactor, Comrade Admas Oshiomhole, who was the National Chairman of the APC in the run up to the primary election.

New lease of life

Notably, on June 19, 2020 the governor alongside some of his appointees and supporters were received and registered at the PDP secretariat in Benin-City, Edo state.

This is as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) granted waiver to Obaseki to contest the Edo governorship election primaries on June 25.

PDP in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, had explained that: “The action of the NWC is pursuant to Section 29(2)(b) of the PDP constitution and in exercise of the powers of the National Executive Committee (NEC) under Section (50)(3)(b) of the PDP constitution.

“The NWC in exercise of the above powers has ratified the application for waiver by the ward, local government and state executives of the party in Edo state and accordingly grants waiver to His Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki to enable him contest the governorship primary of the PDP.”

Consequently, Obaseki joined the governorship primary race and emerged the flag bearer of the PDP for the September 19 governorship election.

He was announced after ratification by party delegates following the withdrawal of his main rival, Kenneth Imasuagbon.

Obaseki vows to return state to PDP

Governor Obaseki, who said he came to the PDP after much consultation nationwide, promised that he would bring the party to winning ways again.

Speaking at the PDP secretariat he said, “I am here, this afternoon to inform you that upon my resignation from the APC I have now decided, having consulted very widely within the state and across the country, to become a member of the PDP. The PDP in my view has demonstrated and shown that it is a party that is rooted in democratic practices; a party that believes in justice and fairness; a party that respects its people.

“…I am here to go through the formalities of registering as a member of this great party. I know and I understand fully well the implications of these decisions. I know that upon taking up membership of this party I automatically become the leader of the party in the state, which is the constitution; I read it thoroughly last night. I want to assure all of you that I am prepared to provide leadership.

“I am prepared to provide leadership that will lead this party to victory and I am prepared to provide leadership that will not only put PDP in office in Edo state but as the ruling party in Edo state. We will make sure that the level of progress, the level of hope and the level of participation in the political system by our party is unrivalled in this country.

“I am committing to you that I will not only lead this party to victory in Edo state, but we will now make sure that this party establishes an example of how states will be run in Africa. So, today, it is with great pleasure that I have come to formally take up my membership of this great party.”

Incumbency vs. federal might

In Nigeria, power of incumbency has remained an important factor in re-election bid for candidates and their party. This could work in favour of Obaseki as a sitting governor. He has through appointments and project locations as an incumbent governor gained the support of his people in most part of the state.

Aside this, a sitting governor expectedly has much more resources at his disposable to facilitate re-election and to an extent influence security operatives to work in his favour as the chief security officer in the state.

However, like Obaseki the APC Governorship Candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, will be hoping on ‘federal might’ which often times translate to the undemocratic practice of using the military, police, and other federal agencies to influence election outcome.

In the same vein, the face-off between Obaseki and Oshiomhole may have won him public sympathy and supporters who are committed to seeing him win at the poll to shame the overbearing god father.

Political pundits are of the opinion that, in Edo it is going to be a fierce fight between the federal might and the power of incumbency. They however, noted that the individual capacity of the two candidates would also determine how the swing each situation to their favour.

Obaseki has people’s sympathy – Analyst

Speaking to Blueprint Weekend on the forthcoming poll, a political analyst Mohammed Ibrahim said the Oshiomhole’s factor would work in Obaseki’s favour.

Ibrahim in a phone chat with our corresponded said: “Many factors will work in Obaseki’s favour. With what Oshiomhole has done to Obaseki, naturally some persons in Edo will vote for the incumbent governor out of pity.

“In terms of performance, many people allege that Obaseki did not perform well or did not perform as expected in terms of projects. But you cannot tell me that Obaseki did not accomplish any project. So, no matter how few it is, projects accomplished by Obaseki will work in his favour. Aside this, the incumbency factor will also favour governor Obaseki.”

Ize Iyamu no match to our candidate- PDP

As preparations for the Edo state governorship election goes to top gear the PDP has declared that the APC candidate, who was the PDP candidate in 2016, was not a match to the party’s candidate.

Ize Iyamu, who had joined the APC in 2019 had emerged the party’s candidate after Obaseki was disqualified from participating the primary election.

Ologbondiyan in a statement issued noted that, “Since Ize-Iyamu emerged as a candidate through the crudest governorship election primary ever, in the history of our nation, the people of Edo state have written off the APC, turned the party into a butt of street joke as well as a new metaphor for disdain for the people.”

He said, “Already, on the streets of Edo state, Ize-Iyamu has become the new lexicon for APC’s crude attempt to suppress and lord it over the people of Edo state.

“From all indications, only failure awaits the APC in the September election. This is because, going by the figures announced from the direct primary, which the APC conducted to produce Ize-Iyamu, it is clear that the totality of the members of the APC in Edo is far below 40,000, in a state where the membership and support base of the PDP soar well above three million.

“Moreover, the people of Edo state had been openly told by Ize-Iyamu’s godfather, Adams Oshiomhole, that he is not fit to occupy the office of the governor of Edo state for reasons he had also put in public space.

“According to Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu is only good for political night meetings and not to occupy the highest office in the state, where he will fail.

“Edo people can also recall how Oshiomhole swore before God and man that people with the character traits of Ize-Iyamu should not be allowed anywhere near a public office like that of a governor.

“It is therefore nauseating that having degraded Ize-Iyamu across Edo state and beyond, the APC, in their arrogance and disrespect for the leaders and the people Edo, want to foist such an individual on the state through a shambolic primary election.”

While both party continue with electioneering it remains to be seen what works in each candidate’s favour.

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