By Stephen Ubanna
When Adams Oshimhole , a former National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, APC, who incidentally was a two -term governor of the south –south state of Edo, forced Godwin Obaseki, the party elected governor of the state to decamp to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, he may have had at the back of his mind that he is finished politically having withdrawn his support from him.
The former APC National Chairman, in order to spite Obaseki, his estranged god son , had thrown up , Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a Clergy man and a former PDP governorship Candidate in the 2015, election to pick the APC, governorship ticket for the Sepember 19, election in the state.
Obaseki’s disqualification from contesting the party primaries at the instance of Oshiomhole may have climaxed a long –run battle between the duo. The Edo state governor who was forced to decamp to the PDP, to test his political popularity in the state without the support of Oshiomhole was said to have linked up to Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state and Udom Emmanuel, his Counterpart in Akwa Ibom state , to prepare the ground for him to join the PDP.
Note that the APC 7-man, screening Committee headed Ayuba Jonathan , a Professor, had picked holes with the National Youth Service Certificate, NYSC, and testimonial of the Institute of Continuing Educaton Center, Benin, the Edo state Capital , presented by the elected APC governor to the Committee.
The disqualification of Obaseki by the party screening Committee may have opened the door way for the PDP to grab him. Wike , the Rivers state governor and Emmanuel , the governor of Akwa Ibom state were said to have softened the ground for him to join the PDP to actualize his political ambition. The two south- south states governors were said to have ensure that he was granted waivers which worked for his favour as some of the party governorship Candidates stepped down for him after much pressure from several quarters. It was not surprising why he emerged as the party governorship ticket for the September 19, 2020 , governorship election in the state with ease.
Obaseki , may not have seen Ize-Iyamu, the APC Candidate as a threat to his re-election bid. This is because of his believe that Oshiomhole who is backing him was a spent force and no more of any political relevance in the state. Oshiomhole , may have known that the APC , will lose Edo state, if Obaseki , eventually decamp to the PDP, and pick their governorship slot. He had threatened to go to Court to challenge his estranged god son’s Certificate if he is fielded by the Opposition PDP in the September 19, 2020, governorship in the state but that was how he could go.
Instead of going to Court to Challenge Obaseki who had had picked the PDP, ticket, Oshiomhole became the victm as he was removed by the Court as APC , National Chairman. Obaseki had described the Court of the former goveror as the APC National Chairman as a good riddance to bad rubbish. He believes that if he could defeat Ize-Iyamu, the then PDP , governorship Candidate in the state in 2015, he will still defeat him again in September 19, 2020 with little or no worry.
Many believe that the APC, leadership, in the state may have been banking on the party control of the country security apparatus of the country as the ruling party to win the election. Recall that Adamu Mohammed, the Inspector General of Police , IGP, had deployed 31,00 policemen to maintain security in the Edo election. Unknown to the APC party thugs and their sponsors, Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, had introduced some new innovations in the electoral process that would make it difficult for any party to rig the Edo election
. This is because all announced results at the Collation centers in the each local government Areas are transmitted to the Commission server before being taken to the state Collation center in Benin city for final announcement by the electoral umpire appointed Returning officer.
Some of the new innovations that were said to have been introduced for the Edo governorship election was the use of the tablet, Z-pad as secondary means of achieving full biometric accreditation of voters using the facial image of the voter, in support of the finger print authentication by the Smart Card Reader that were not used. This may have finally sealed Oshiomhole’s hope of installing Ize-Iyamu, as the next governor of Edo state.
Moreso, Festus Okoye, the INEC Commissioner for Voters Education and Publicity, may have further dashed the hope of the party tugs and their sponsors of rigging the election when he disclosed other measures put in place to ensure a smooth run for the Edo governorship election by the electoral umpire.The Commission spokesperson was emphatic when he said that’’ any voter who comes to the polling unit after 23.0 pm, will not be allowed to join the queque to vote’’. This may have informed why thousands of voters in the state were disfranchised. It was not surprising why there was violence erupted in Esako North in the state where thousands of voters , alleged to be APC, supporters were disfranchised.
Godswill Alan Lukman, a Professor and Collation officer of Esako Central Local Government Area Confirmed that one of the INEC, officials was shot and critically injured while the electorate were voting on Saturday. The Professor had said that the incident had t occurred due to violence that erupted at the venue of the election. He disclosed that another ad-hoc official of the Commission was cut in the face .
The question on the lips of most was: where were the policemen on electoral duties in the local government Area?. There are indications that party thugs may have resorted violence when they found out that their favoured Candidate or Candates wwere losing the election in the local government Area.
According to the Professor, the hoodlums who were suspected thugs had stormed the venue of the election and disrupted the exercise, forcing the voters to scamper for safety. He noted that the election could not be concluded in the area.
The PDP officials, believe that APC, thugs master-minded the violence in the Esako central local government Area to disrupt the election because the party was losing . The party had raised alarm about the disappearance of the INEC Collation officer for the Local Government. The party Leadership were said to have been alerted about the disappearance of the INEC Collation officer by one Omoregie Ogbide- Ihama, an Agent of the party on Sunday, Setpember 20, 20, as the results of the election started trickling in into Benin City, the state Capital, Collation Center for final announcement by the Returning officer.
The PDP Agent had said that the Collation officer for the Esako Central local government was with them at the Collation center but failed to return to the venue after a one hour break announced by the Returning officer. Going by the results from the 13 local government government Areas that were announced by Akpofure Rem-Rukah, the INEC , returning officer, earlier on Sunday, Setember 20, 2020, out of the 18 local government Areas of the state, it was obvious that Oshiomhole and his new found political ally, Ize-Iyamu, the APC, governorship Candidate , have lost the election, which many believe would force Oshiomhole into political retirement. without benefits.
Of the 13 local government Areas result that were earlier released by the Returning officer before the electionresult was finally released shows that, Obaseki, the PDP, Candidate had clinched 11 Local government Areas , leaving only two to Ize-Iyamu, the APC Candidate and his closest rival. He was said to have polled 243,604 votes from the 13 local government Areas to Ize-Iyamu’s 154,192 Bad news for Oshiomhole, who had supported Ize-Iyamu to win the election..
The PDP Candidate had won in Esan West with 17,434 votes to APC’s Candidate’s 7,189, Oredo, 43,498 votes, APC, 18,365, Esan South East, 10, 563, APC, 9,237, Ovia North –East, PDP, 16,987, APC,9,907, Owan West, PDP, 11,485, APC, 11,193, Egor PDP, 27,621 Votes APC, 10,202, Uhunmwonde, PDP 10,022 votes, APC 5,972 and and Ikoa Okha, PDP 41,030 votes , APC 18,218
. The PDP Candidate , according to the INEC Returning officer also won in Esan Central with 10,794 votes to the APC Cadidate’s 6,719 votes, Esan Nort-East, PDP 13,679 votes, APC, 6,556 votes while the party polled 7,870 to APC’s 5,199 votes in Igueben local government Area.
Ize –Iyamu, the APC Candidate was said to have won in Esako West with 26,140 votes to the PDP Candidate’s 17,17,959 votes and Owan East. The APC, Candidate was aid to have polled 19,295 while Obaseki was awarded 14,762 votes in the Owan east local government Area.
Going by the final result of the Edo governorship election that had been released by the INEC Returning officer, Obaseki, the PDP Candidate polled a total of 307,955 votes to Ize-Iyamu’s223,619 votes. With the total votes scored, which cut across all the local government Areas of the state, the Returning officer had declared Obaseki, the PDP Candidate as the winner of the Sptember 19, 2020, governorship in the Niger Delta state of Edo, today, September 20, 2020, amidst Celebration in Obaseki’s Camp. A total of 14 political parties were said to fielded Candidates for the election. An elated Obaseki said the ‘’the outcome of the election in the state is a reflection of the will of the Edo people’’.
He gave kudo’s to President Muhammadu Buhari for defending the country’s Democracy following the good job done by the INEC oficials and the policemen deployed to the state to perform their Constitutional role of maintain security during the election.
Even in the two local government Aras that were said to have been won by the APC, in the results of the 13 local government Areas that had been released the margin of difference was nothing compared to the local government Areas won by the PDP, Candidate, an indication that Oshiomhole was no longer on ground in Edo politics.
This is the first election to be conducted in the country since the outbreak of the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular COVID 19, last March.