Ahead of the Edo State governorship election, BIYI ADEGOROYE writes that the stage is set for an explosive campaign between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Party (APC)
f the snippets of tantrums between the two major political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), few months to the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, are anything to go by, it might be an understatement to say that the election will produce an overdose of fireworks.
Already, the salvos fired by the chairmen of the campaign committees of both parties have set the agenda that the campaign for the Osadebe House, hitherto occupied by the APC, and now in the grip of the PDP suggest that the campaign for the votes of the electorate will be explosive- and for obvious reasons.
The quivers of the National Campaign Council of both parties are massively endowed with political heavy-weights, most of whom are either serving or former governors. The PDP has named a 93-man council with the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike with the Adamawa State Governor, Umar Fintri, is the Deputy.
Similarly, the APC has appointed a 49-member high-level National Campaign Council for the Edo State Governorship Election, with the Governor of Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje as chairman. Others include two former governors of the state, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as members.
It was not unexpected, therefore, that shortly after the inauguration, Governor Ganduje, said the election was a walkover for the APC because his committee is studded with election veterans. He said APC was aware that PDP was trying to rig the election, but promised to dismantle alleged PDP’s rigging machine and send the Chairman of its Campaign Council, the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, to the isolation centre for Godwin Obaseki to win the poll.
Ganduje went for the jugular, stating: “We know PDP made Wike the chairman of their campaign in Edo State. I assure you, we will isolate Wike. We will put him in isolation centre and before he recovers the election would be over,” even as he added in harsh terms that Obaseki will pay for his treachery in the election.
Ganduje said Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the incumbent governor has failed his people and his new found platform the PDP cannot save him. He said: “Obaseki has failed to deliver to his people. He will be shocked at the polls. The art of governance is to provide social and economic development and infrastructural facilities, peace and stability.
“What has he put on the ground to show Edo people that he is seeking re-election? He has 53 cases in court and he is busy fighting his people. Besides the litigations, he has just defected to another party, abandoning the governance of the people that elected him.”
It was not surprising that Ganduje’s threat to send Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike to “isolation centre,” stating that no one can intimidate PDP in the election. In an equally acerbic response, Wike said: “Yesterday, I read on the pages of the newspapers that one Governor Ganduje said that he is going to isolate me until the election is over. If Nigeria is supposed to be a country, who should be isolated?
“A man who pockets dollars in Babanriga (lowing gown) from contractors not isolated and you say that I should be isolated? Is this a country? Where are we heading to? Let me tell you why they made Wike the chairman of their campaign council; it is because of the dollars they saw, but for dollars, Ganduje could not have been made the chairman of the council.”
Wike’s retaliatory fired at the Kano State governor was equally vitriolic, stating the latter failed to understand that he is from the Niger Delta, “we shall chop his money to a coma. So, Ganduje, your dollar will not work in Edo State. We have integrity in our party.”
Though the PDP leadership said Oshiomhole has made their job very easy in Edo State, Wike advised the party not to take Ganduje’s statement with levity, stating that the plan might be to use security agencies to scare way the people of Edo State and rig the election.
“So he just used me to say that they will isolate me, no, I am not at his level. What he was telling Nigerians is look in this election, we shall make sure that Edo people don’t come out to vote. Even if they vote, we will not allow them to protect and defend their votes.
“Edo people, now they have told you that they will not allow you to vote and even if you vote, they will not allow you to protect and defend your votes. “It is a direct challenge to all of you leaders here from Edo State, because we members of the campaign council, we cannot vote because we did not register to vote in Edo state.” he added.
Winning Edo State is of great importance to both parties. Key among these reasons was the defection of Governor Godwin Obaseki to the APC after his disqualification by his former party, an action which was fallout of his fight with his former godfather and erstwhile governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole- also the immediate past National Chairman of the party.
The latest defection now leaves APC with 19 states, while PDP 15 and Anambra takes the last the gradual loss of some states like Oyo, Bauchi, Sokoto and now Edo to the opposition in quick and stupefying succession will no doubt fire up the ruling party to burn its candle from all ends to regain Edo.
Another reason is that the party is on a face-saving and damage control mood to regain the state in order to assuage the bruised ego of Comrade Oshiomhole and give other leaders of the party in Edo State, like the onetime National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
One thing the star-studded campaign teams have in common is the fact that both chairmen were at a point in the current dispensation members of the PDP. Ganduje as Deputy Governor of Kano under Kwankwaso was a member of the PDP, but failed to defect with the lat
ter in the build up to the 2019 elections which he won in controversial circumstances.
Strident as the campaign turns out to be, PDP said Adams Oshiomhole has cut its work out for the party when he described Ize-Iymu as unfit for governor. Besides that the party has commenced publishing materials Oshiomhole used to demarket Ize-Iyamu in the 2016 election before the dawn of their day of long knives and inadvertently market Obaseki in 2020.
Rummaging through the social media, the PDP has been inundating the public with baffling frequency, video clips where Oshiomhole featured as key actor, describing Ize-Iyamu in unsavoury terms and several others where he extoled Obaseki as self-made man who headed Edo State Economic Team and constructed a building from resources galvanized from his business associates.
Just like some of these video may soon find their way into the television stations in the next few days, it has also been alleged that a supposed video of an APC governor pocketing dollars now features on some billboards in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The PDP seemed to have learnt from previous experiences, as Uche Secondus warned “that APC might be standing on the excitement of its previous rigged elections in Osun, Ekiti, Kano and Kogi states in the past and think that their victory at the tribunal legitimises their underhand act but they forget to put into consideration the anger of God and the people to evil doers who refuse to change.”
Speaking on the same vein, PDP Deputy National Chairman, South, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi said the party would not take the isolation threat by APC with a grain of salt. “We have not forgotten what the APC did to us in Kogi State where they released thugs at Governor Seyi Makinde who headed our campaign team. That crass undemocratic conduct will be resisted this time around.
“What I can also tell you now is that the situation is better in Edo State because right now, it belongs to the PDP, unlike Kogi which was hostile to us. In Edo State we also have two senators and a number of members of House Representatives besides the State House of Assembly. So the situation is going to be different.
“I can tell you that we are more strategic and more organised than before. I was in Edo State today, Thursday and I can tell you how peaceful our activities went, but go t there and you will know how rancurous. We know they played do-or-die politics before, but they are the victim now,” he said.
With the foot soldiers and current and former aides of the gladiators taking their respective positions, observers say the battle is set, and as soon as the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) authorizes campaign activities, it will be fire for fire from the cylinders of both parties.