Averting imminent bloodshed in Edo election

The Edo State governorship election would be held on September 19. Even though there are about 13 candidates for the election, there is no doubt the battle is between the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Osagie Ize- Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Obaseki, who was first elected governor in 2016 on the platform of APC is now the flag bearer of the PDP in the election. It is akin to a reversal of roles between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu.


In 2016, Obaseki was the APC candidate and Ize-Iyamu, the PDP candidate. Four years later, they are facing each other again, in opposite parties. The facts that led to the reversal of political parties by the two candidates are in the open.


But a major reason was that Obaseki fell out with his godfather, the immediate past National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who sponsored the governor in his first term. Oshiomhole has now settled for Ize-Iyamu, whom he used some unprintable names for in 2016, stressing why Edo citizens should not elect him. We are not concerned with the petty quarrel between a godfather and his godson.


We are, however, worried by the acrimony, bad blood, threats of violence and several undemocratic practices that are being unleashed in the state in the battle for the September 19 election. We recall the ambush on PDP leaders at the Palace of the Oba of Benin some weeks ago, during the flagoff of Obaseki’s campaigns in the state.


Even though both the PDP and the APC could not own up to the sponsorship of the thugs, there is no doubt that taking such an ignominious battle to the palace of an apolitical monarch, portends danger ahead of the election. We also recall the impasse at the Edo State House of Assembly, where in desperation, the roof of the Assembly building was removed suddenly and tons of gravel and sand were tipped at the entrance to prevent access to the hallowed chambers.


That act of desperation from the state government surely signals a dangerous omen. Yet, there is the matter of 17 out of the 24-man House meeting outside the Assembly to remove the Speaker of the House and install another.


The 17 members have gone ahead to sit outside the Assembly even though it is contestable that sitting outside the main chambers is meaningful to their cause. We recall that the bulk of the 17 members were those who did not honour the proclamation of the House in 2019 by Obaseki.


There is also the matter of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), writing to the Inspector- General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to provide the 17 members with security in order not to allow a breakdown of law and order in the state.


Already, both the governor’s camp and the opposition are making serious accusations of threats to life, violence and all other extraneous propaganda and allegations that go with elections in this clime. What all these point to is that the Edo election is manifesting serious signs of violence before the first ballot is cast. The election is also showing serious signs of desperation from both the APC and the PDP. There is no doubt that the result of the election would mark the end of the political careers of either Oshiomhole or Obaseki.


That is the source of the desperation. Add that to the two characters that are leading the campaign teams of both parties, Abdullahi Ganduje, the Kano State governor for the APC and Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State governor for the PDP, we are certain that a fierce battle is set in Edo on September 19. But we strongly believe that there is a serious need for caution on both sides. APC and the PDP are just two out of the 13 political parties that are involved in the election. Two of them cannot torpedo the election for the whole state.


The unsettled business between Obaseki and his godfather is their private business that is not in the interest of the ordinary Edo person. Already, the signals are bad from the state and even the APC-led Federal Government.


The signals are that the APC wants the state at all cost. We do not begrudge a political party for wanting to win an election – that is its core mandate in the first place. But we are concerned that it should be done with fairness, decorum and with the interest of the larger democracy of the country at heart.


We also believe that the PDP should not be desperate to win Edo at the expense of the blood of the people they want to govern. At the end of the day, both Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu are indigenes of Edo, who will govern Edo people.


They are to govern the living, not the dead. We, therefore, call for sanity in the conducts of both parties. Otherwise, the threat of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt the elections over violence could be justified. We call for a peaceful election on September 19 in Edo.


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