Opinion

Edo 2020: Obaseki’s win may be ‘dramatically bigger’

I just returned from a trip to Edo State where I took time to interact with different people from across the state on political issues.

 

The people were enthusiastic to share their thoughts about Governor Godwin Obaseki, his achievements, his struggle against godfatherism, his major challenger, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his chances of re-election come September 19, 2020. Majority of the people spoke glowingly of Governor Obaseki. They said he has done well.

 

One commentator described him as the best thing that has happened to the state since after Ogbemudia. They said he has a clear vision of the future for the state. Going by public opinion, Obaseki’s chances of winning a re-election are looking extremely good especially if things continue to go right with his campaign. I am with him. I believe in him. I share in his hope for a brighter future for Edo State.

 

I love his courage and the fact that he put Edo first and above overwhelming godfatherism. He needs another four years to complete the good works he has started. I predict that he will win this time bigger than he did in 2017 and much-more-better than is currently hoped. His predictable win may not be unconnected with the disarray in the APC’s camp.

 

So far, Ize-Iyamu’s campaign is unable to steal the thunder from Obaseki. Unlike Obaseki who fitted into PDP seamlessly, Ize-Iyamu remains not sure-footed inside APC where he is rather seen as a stranger. When Governor Obaseki left APC, he apparently left with the soul of the party leaving behind an empty shell, a weak shadow and a carcass of sort.

 

The disillusioned remnants are not battle ready and therefore unable to organize the ground. Weeks after Obaseki decamped, party loyalists waited for the return of Adams Oshiomhole, but were disappointed that the voice of the once comrade governor who was rejected in Abuja no longer command respect in Edo. His attempt to rewrite history and recant past utterances failed to convince.

 

Oshiomhole in the eyes of the people symbolized the rot and decadence that has become of Edo politics and our democracy in general. It is a miscalculation for APC to allow Oshiomhole to lead Ize-Iyamu’s campaign effort, given the fact that he spared nothing in demonizing him in 2017. Some of the words he used in characterizing ize-Iyamu are not printable and needless repeating them.

 

His recent 360 degrees U-turn to now sing praises of the man he spared no words in vilifying put him on the spot as a serial liar. It is only natural that his very words against Ize-Iyamu will be played back against him. All that PDP need do from now to the end of the campaign is to tell the truth about Obaseki’s achievements and his plans for a bright future while simultaneously playing back Oshiomhole’s unhinged tirades against Ize-Iyamu.

 

This will bolster and consolidate Obaseki’s chances of a bigger win and of course a game over. I had a conversation with a Bini Chief who told me that Oshiomhole can use his knees to sweep the entire Benin kingdom if he likes, but that he will lose their votes because    according to him, he allowed APC thugs to desecrate the palace of the Oba Benin. The average Bini man reveres the throne of the Oba more than they would revere the Government House.

 

They respect and honour the Oba more than they will respect or honour the governor of the state. For an average Benin man, after the Oba is God. The Oba, his households, properties and grounds are regarded as sacred and treated with utmost respect and honour.

 

The Binis, therefore, felt violated when APC thugs chose the Obi’s palace ground to engage Obaseki and the PDP entourage as Oba’s guests in riotous show of shame. On account of this unfortunate incident, finding a thoroughbred Bini person who will reward the party with votes for their bad behaviour is like finding a needle in the hay-sack.

 

The rejection appears total. When you lose Benin City, winning Edo becomes extremely difficult, save a miracle happens. Ize-Iyamu and the party may have seen and read the hand writing on the wall, hence the panic visit by Oshiomhole to Aso Rock where he met with the president’s new Mr. Fix It.

 

In a video that went viral he was reportedly heard suggesting the arrest of some individuals so as to change the equation. It thus appear that APC’s only hope of ‘recapturing’ Edo State is not by winning the hearts and minds of the people ,but to have her knees on the people’s neck, using the police to conduct fake arrests and then steal the election.

 

The game plan to overwhelm the state with security forces so as to win at all cost is abhorrent and condemnable, and should be stopped. Without advancing any proof, some of the party stalwarts in the state are shouting and accusing the ruling party in the state of plotting violence and mayhem.

 

Without proof, they are shouting themselves hoarse that PDP is plotting to rig the election ostensibly to instigate high handed security crackdown. Part of their game plan is to orchestrate the arrest of several PDP stalwarts before and during the election, use security operatives to supress votes in PDP strongholds and possibly change the results at the point of final collations.

 

These are usual election malpractices which I believe both the PDP and the people should be prepared to resist. Democracy is all about peaceful election. Edo people want a peaceful election.

 

Both Obaseki and Ize- Iyamu are their sons. None of the contestants are foreigners. A win for any of the candidates is a victory for Edo people so long as such a win is by the express wish of the people.

 

The people must therefore be allowed to freely decide. INEC is under obligation to ensure that Edo 2020 election is free, fair and credible. It must ensure that all votes count and that violence and external interference by state and non-state actors are not rewarded. In a free and fair contest, I am convinced that Obaseki will win ‘big’.

 

He has worked for the people and one good turn deserves another. Let me warn that those who make peaceful elections impossible are destroying our democracy, and we don’t need to go that tired road again.

 

Let’s allow the government of the people, by the people and for the people to triumph in Edo State and by extension Nigeria.

 

 

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