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Edo: Who succeeds Governor Oshiomhole?

Less than seven days from today, over 1.9 million eligible voters in Edo State are expected to go to the poll to decide who will…

Less than seven days from today, over 1.9 million eligible voters in Edo State are expected to go to the poll to decide who will be their next governor.
There are 19 political parties that fielded candidates for the election, but from all indications, only five are actively involved in the campaigns. The five parties are the All Progressives Congress (APC); Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); United Peoples Party (UPP) and the People Progressive Alliance (PPA)
The APC has Godwin Obaseki as its candidate; the PDP has Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu; APGA picked Osaro Onawu; the UPP has Ambasador Unwamagbe while PPA has Thomas Sado.
But pundits believe that out of these parties, only the APC and the PDP would make impact in the poll. Others are believed to be there as spoilers that are out to gain popularity. The two dominant parties have crisscrossed the entire 18 local government areas canvassing for votes while others confined themselves to the corners of Benin metropolis.
It is believed that the election would be won on the basis of performance. Based on this, the APC would depend on what it achieved during its eight-year administration in the state, while the PDP would hope on promises.

Godwin Obaseki

Obaseki is considered as a novice in the murky waters of Edo politics. He started his political career with Governor Adams Oshiomhole. Before his nomination as the APC candidate, Obaseki served as chairman of the state’s Economic and Strategy Team, a position he has held from March 17, 2009 till date. As the arrowhead of the team, he is believed to be behind the successes recorded by the Oshiomhole-led administration in the last eight years. He is an economic development expert who has brought his experience to bear in the development of the state.
His major strength stems from being the candidate of the ruling party, who the electorate believe has done well in terms of infrastructural development. He also has the full backing of APC members despite the apprehension that other aspirants who lost might either defect to other parties or withdraw their support for the party.
Obaseki’s strength also lies in the fact that he is the candidate of the party in power at the federal level. It is believed that many would want to identify with the ruling party so as to enjoy the benefits therein.
Also seen as his strength is the geopolitical calculation in the state, which seems to favour the APC. The Edo South Senatorial district has 58 per cent of the voting population, Edo Central has 16 per cent, while Edo north has 26 per cent of voters in the state. The APC commands a huge population in Edo North, which is the second highest voting population due to the Oshiomhole factor and Philip Shuaibu, his running mate. Obaseki also commands a huge population in Benin due to Oshiomhole’s performance in the area.
The House of Assembly is also seen as another strength of the APC candidate. Out of the 24 seats from the 18 local government areas, the PDP has only three.
Despite the many advantages, however, many see Obaseki as a stooge of Governor Oshiomhole, who they alleged single-handedly ensured his emergence as the party’s candidate. This might have given rise to the insinuation by the PDP that he is Oshiomhole’s third term agenda.
Another weakness is the current high cost of living in the country under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. The opposition party is saying that it would be worse if the APC is allowed to continue in the state.
Though the tax policy has helped in the development of the state, Obaseki is seen as the brain behind the seemingly stringent tax policy of the state government, and as such, will not only continue with the policy, but may make it worse if elected.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu

Ize-Iyamu is seen as a grassroots politician. Many believe that he has been instrumental to the emergence of both the PDP and APC governors in the state. He served as the chief of staff and secretary to the Edo State government under the administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion, between 1999 and 2007. Before his emergence as the candidate of the PDP, he was also the coordinator of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation during the 2015 presidential election.
One of the strengths of Ize-Iyamu is the fact that he is a grassroots politician who is conversant with the dynamics of the politics of the state. Another thing Ize-Iyamu seems to have to his advantage is the economic crisis in the country, which many believe is caused by the economic policies of the APC. Not many believe that the party is not to be blamed for the current economic crisis despite the explanation that it was as a result of the actions and inactions of the PDP-led federal government. The PDP is cashing in on it in their campaign as a weapon against the APC.
Also, the alleged marginalisation of the Esan people is seen as an advantage for the PDP candidate. The party is using it to appeal to the sentiment of the people who now believe that the PDP means well for them, having picked a running mate from the area.
The tax policy of the Oshiomhole administration, which is biting hard on the people, is another albatross of the APC, and the PDP is using it to its advantage.
The pension arrears allegedly owed pensioners, and some local government areas that have not been paid may also work in favour of the PDP.
But an average Edo voter still sees Ize-Iyamu as a continuation of the Igbinedion administration that ruled for eight years without anything to show in terms of development. Also, those supporting him are still the same people largely believed to have been responsible for Igbinadion’s failure? Despite the denial by Ize-Iyamu that he was not the governor, many still see him as one not to be trusted with the state’s resources.
Most of all, the factionalisation of the PDP, both at the national and the state levels, is also working against Pastor Ize-Iyamu. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen from the Ali Modu Sheriff faction is also a candidate of the party for the same election. His alleged case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the N700 million received from the $2 billion arms procurement fund will also work against him.
Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday, a political observer, David Ugolor, said it was difficult to say which party would have the upper hand.
“Looking at the two parties, it would have been easy for the APC to win the election if not for the economic recession and fall in oil prices, which have affected the performance of the federal government. The common man on the street does not understand this. All they want to see is development, and this is affecting the APC negatively in the state,” Ugolor said.
He noted that despite the economic crisis, voters would still look at history, saying that nobody can take away the fact that Oshiomhole has performed to the expectation of Edo people.
“One thing that could count for the opposition is that some people just think the APC has ruled for eight years and another party should come in. And this is not based on fact but mere sentiments.
“The way it is now, the APC will have an upper hand in the Edo North Senatorial District where the governor hails from because of his performance. In Edo central, the PDP would have the upper hand because of the bigwigs like Tony Anenih and others.
“In Edo South, the Benin-speaking area, the election is going to be keenly contested because in Oredo Local Government Area with the highest number of voters, the awareness is high and voting will not be based on tribal sentiments but what the electorate have seen,” Ugolor said. He, however, added that the APC is the party to beat in the election, especially given its performance in the state in the last eight years.

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