Barely a few days to the governorship election in Edo State, political parties have intensified electioneering campaigns.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that 14 political parties registered for the election but that only 12 are fielding candidates. Sadly, out of the 12 parties; only four: All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) have engaged in campaigns.
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Some political pundits believe that largely, the election is between the candidate of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and that of the PDP, Governor Godwin Obaseki, going by their structures across the 18 local government areas of the state.
A keen follower of events leading to the election said, “The ADC candidate, Mabel Oboh, and that of the NNPP, Mrs. Agol Ebun Tracy, are in the race just to test their popularity,” and that most of the other parties and candidates had either collapsed their structures or endorsed the candidates of the APC and the PDP.
The PDP was the first to flag off its campaign, followed by the APC, ADC and NNPP. Interestingly, while the PDP started its campaign across the 192 wards in the state, the APC commenced its campaign with LGA campaigns.
Speaking on the PDP ward-to-ward campaign, the media aid to governor, Crusoe Osagie, said the PDP’s campaign in the 192 electoral wards across the state had continued to yield desired results.
Osagie said the campaigns afforded the governor the opportunity to preach the Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) manifesto and the next stage of development for his second.
He explained that, “Strategically, in most of the wards visited, Governor Obaseki commissioned some state-sponsored projects in fulfillment of his 2016 campaign promises, while some new projects were flagged off.”
He further said the ward-to-ward campaign was designed for assessing the needs of Edo people at the community level to bring more impactful projects closer to them.
Some political watchers are of the view that the ward-to-ward campaign might have yielded the desire results for the PDP as the people had the opportunity to directly interface with the governor unlike the LGAs’ campaign rallies of the APC where people were selected to attend the campaigns at councils’ headquarters.
They said this might have informed the decision of the APC to switch over to the ward-to-ward campaign strategy almost after a month of campaigns.
The Chairman the state APC Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, said the party’s now ward-to-ward campaign had afforded it and its candidate the opportunity to sell its simple agenda to the electorate.
Mr. Mayaki said from its ward-to-ward campaign rally, it was clear that the APC would win the September 19, governorship election.
Stressing the gains of its campaign, Patrick Obahiagbon, Vice Chairman of the APC Media and Publicity Committee, said the successful campaign in Edo North would fetch it victory at the poll and that it had shown who truly owned the land.
Obahiagbon said, “From all that happened, from what we saw, and from all we can forecast, we are now confident of an overriding and comprehensive victory in Edo North.”
Besides, the modes of the campaigns of both parties have not changed in the last minute push as they are still characterised by allegations of plot to rig, importation of arms and thugs to cause mayhem during the election.
According to the pundits, the campaigns have become tools of blackmail in the hands of the political gladiators instead of revealing their parties’ initiatives towards moving the state forward.
Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday, a political observer, Dada Ayokha, noted that last minute push was very important to politicians in every election.
Ayokha said, “It can create surprises and upturn political calculations, but many electorate attending the rallies is not a guarantee that they will vote for a party.”
Ayokha, a media consultant, further said many voters needed the last minute push in taking voting decisions, and that, “The ingredients of last minute push are money, community and political interests like zoning of political positions, defection by opinion leaders, among others, but the final decision on these ingredients is taken during the last minute push hours (sic).”
Another pundit who only gave his name as Jimoh said, “As it is now, the two major political parties are trying to whip up emotional and ethnic sentiments. What you hear each time they mount the podium is that Party A is importing thugs or Party B is colluding with INEC to rig the election.”
According to him, the electioneering campaigns were devoid of issues as the parties were not out to educate the electorate on their agenda but to cast aspersions on opponents.
However, some of the pundits believe that any of the two major political parties can emerge winner.
They said the election might be different from the previous governorship elections due to the personalities involved.
In the 2016 governorship election, the APC won in Edo South and Edo North convincingly, while the PDP won in Edo Central, but the observers believe that the situation may change this time as the Philip Shaibu (Deputy to Gov. Obaseki) and Gani Audu (Deputy to Ize-Iyamu) factors may alter the huge votes the APC got from Edo North in 2016, while that of Edo South may also be altered.