To chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, victory in Saturday’s governorship election could be likened to the saying that the “end justifies the means.” WALE ELEGBEDE reports on the poll’s big winners
The odds were not perfect for him going into the election, but he scaled through in a plush manner. Although the process of his exit from the All Progressives Congress (APC) was rough, he found solace in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
His separation from his ex-ally and predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was perceived in many quarters as the end of his sojourn in politics, owing to the huge influence and structure the immediate past national chairman of the APC wields.
But announcing the result of the election yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Returning Officer, Prof. Akpofure Rim- Rukeh, declared Obaseki winner of the election thereby securing a second term in the face of huge opposition. Obaseki of PDP polled 307,955 votes to defeat his closest rival, Osagie Ize- Iyamu, of the APC, who got 223,619 votes.
While the victory didn’t come cheap, his imposing sway in the state and external support from his PDP governors’ colleagues and his “Edo no be Lagos” mantra did the magic. Of course, not a few queried his defection, but the end justified the means for him.
The big question, however, for him is if he will still stay in the PDP or return to the APC after successfully relegating the godfathers in the party to the background? Describing his reelection as “triumph over godfatherism,” Obaseki said: “Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation, and brutalisation.
The collective will of Edo people made it possible for us to triumph over godfatherism. Congratulations to Edo people.” Philip Shaibu All eyes were on the Edo State deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, ahead of Saturday’s election after he had been identified as the ‘Go-to guy’ for the PDP in the highly tensed election.
If anything, his loyalty was put out in the public space for test and he apparently didn’t fail the test. He stuck with his principal, Obaseki, through thick and thin to secure the hard earned victory.
Although he lost his local government, Etsako West, to the APC, his influence and input, however, cannot be underestimated. As it is in politics, the permutations and discussions about him taking over from Obaseki in 2024 is already a talking point in Edo, but four years is a long time in politics, especially in the light of the contentious issues of zoning and rotation in the state.
Nyesom Wike Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has once again proved his mettle in politics with the success recorded by the PDP in the Edo governorship election. Perhaps, those who wondered why the PDP and its leaders had to persuade him to rescind his earlier decision to pull out of the Edo PDP campaign over alleged interference, now know better the difference his presence and input can make in any political race.
Wike, a man of immense means and influence, always love to be heard and seen, literally took the campaign on his head after he was named as the chairman of the PDP campaign council. On the eve of the election, the hotel he resided in Benin, the state capital, was surrounded by the Police, thereby raising questions about harassment of opposition members.
No doubt, Wike’s hold on the PDP has been reaffirmed and the party may continue to conform to his whims and caprices. He is ticking all boxes when it comes to influence in the PDP and it is doubtful if any governor in Nigeria is as powerful as Wike, even in the APC.
Ahead of 2023 presidential ticket of the PDP, the Rivers Governor, prior to the election has a big influence on who gets what, when and how, but the Obaseki’s victory has only reinforced him as the ‘Governor-General of the PDP’.
The tireless Chairman of the PDP was up and doing to secure the victory for his party just after he midwifed Obaseki’s entry to the PDP from the APC. Under his watch as chairman of the leading opposition party, the PDP now controls 16 states as against APC’s 19.
However, last Saturday’s victory has cemented his party’s grip on the six states of the South-South. However, the strongest of the test for him will come in 2021 when the party holds its national congress.
Would he return for another term and lead the party to the 2023 race? This is a question that will be answered by time. Frank Okiye The speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Frank Okiye, is another man that will heave a big sigh of relief after INEC declared the outcome of the result in favour of Obaseki.
Lately, he has been at the centre of the leadership storm raging in the state legislature but no doubt, the outcome of the poll will ameliorate the crisis and perhaps affirm his position.