By Suleiman Umaru
Uche Secondus, the Rivers state born National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, appears to have used the hard fighting Nyensom Wike, a Lawyer and governor of the oil rich south-south state of to restore life to the sinking national party in securing victory for the party in the just concluded governorship election in Edo state.
Secondus and the party National Executive Council Committee, NEC, members, may have done their homework to come to the conclusion that the only person that could match the ruggedness of Adams Oshiomhole , a one –time governor of Edo and the Court sacked former National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, APC, and ensure that the wish of the people prevail was to appoint Wike as the Chairmman of the party Campaign Council in the September 19, 2020 Edo governorship election is to appoint Wike, as party , Chairman, of the Campaign Council for the Edo election.
His presence in Benin on Friday, September, 18, 2020, to carry out his party mandate was said to have electrified the state and equally strengthened the resolve of the electorate to come out in en-masse to vote for the Candidate of their choice in the election and defend their vote .
Adamu Mohammed, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, who had deployed 31,000 , policemen, to the state to enforce the restriction order during the election may not have been pleased at the presence of the Rivers state governor in the state that he had ordered him to leave the state.
The governor may have raised the awareness of the people about the importance of the election when he urged them to come come out en-masse to vote for the Candidate of their choice. The PDP governor was said to have advised the electorate to be vigilant to protect their votes. Note that the Statement, which was considered inflammatory in security circles, may have informed why Mohammed, the IGP, took the bold initiative to order Wike to leave the state.
The IGP’s matching order to the Rivers governor to leave the Niger Delta state, which was quickly followed with the deployment of some 300 heavily armed policemen who laid siege in the hotel he had lodged in Benin City to forestall any contact with the people, may have drawn sympathy for the PDP, and Obaseki, its governorship Candidate in the state
The IGP’S matching order given to Wike, to leave the Niger Delta state may have forced the electorates who were sitting on the fence to make up their mind to support the PDP and the governorship Candidate in the September 19, 202020.
True to the PDP NEC, Calculation, the appointment Wike, the Rivers state governor to overssee the Edo Election on behalf of the paarty to ensure that it is free and fair, as promised by INEC, may have disarmed Oshiomhole, a one- time Labour activist who had turned himself as the godfather of Edo politics to display all the known political tactics to ensure that Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a Clergy man , emerge as the next governor of the state in the September 19, 2020, governorship election .
The fallout was that he could not deliver the five local government Areas in the Edo North to Ize-Iyamu, his alleged godson because of the close marking giving to him by the PDP, officials. An elated Wike had declared after the confirmed result was released that God had used Godwin Obaseki to end the godfatherism in Edo politics’’.
Expressing his feelings Like an Army General who had conquered an enemy in the warfront , the Rivers state governor had made people to understand that, if for nothing the party has achieved ‘’ that there is nothing called godfatherism in Edo politics’’, while introducing the newest PDP, governor to the people of the state.
It was a strong message to Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state, who pride himself as the godfather of south west politics, that the era of godfatherism, in Nigeria politics has come to an end . Wike , who could not hide his feelings had said to the hearing of Osshiomhole and his followers: Edo people have said , look we cannot altar our fate on one man’s hand.
In announcing the Edo governorship election result, amidst tension in the state, Akpofure Rem-Rukeh, a Professor and Chancellor of University of Petroleum Resources, Effurum , Warri, who incidentally is the INEC , appointed Returning officer for the election, said Obaseki, the PDP, Candidate polled 307,955 votes to Ize-Iyamu, his closest rival and the Candidate of the APC’ s 223,619 votes, thus making him the winne of the election.
The University of Petroleum Resources, Effurm-Warri, Chancellor, had said in the fully filled Collation center, Benin city, the state Capital that Obaseki, the PDP Candidate had’’ satisfied all the requirements of the Law in meeting the 25% in two-third of the 18 local government Areas in the state’’. According to the Professor, the PDP Candidate had ’’a margin of lead higher than the cancelled votes’’.
In spite of the general consensus that the Edo state governorship election was Free and Fair the APC, officials were said to have rejected the result , alleging ‘’strong- arms tactics’’. John Mayaki, the party Chairman of the Media Campaign Council had issued a Statement alleging that its supporters were arbitrarily arrested’’, stressing that ‘’many of the election figures bandied about for the PDP, were fabricated’’.
The party had alleged ’’illicit tampering with the results, to shore up Obaseki, the PDP Candidate’s figures BUT mark down, that of the APC’s Candidate’’. ‘’ Areas where we had won, the INEC officials cancelled them, the party officials had remarked.
More worrisome was their complain that the electoral umpire officials had decreased the party votes in areas where it had an advantage and jerked up the PDP figures. There are indications that the party have assembled a legal Team to head to the Election Tribunal and the Court to challenge the Edo election result.
The question on the lips of most was: how could the PDP officials in the state could have penetrated the ranks of the INEC officials in the state and the security agencies personnel, particular, the police, when the ruling APC, controls the country’s security architecture: the police, Military , Department of State Security, DSS, and other security agencies that could have helped the party secure victory in the governorship by intimidating the opposition party supporters.
Political watchers were said to have advised Ize-Iyamu , the PDP Candidate , and Oshiomhole , his alleged godfather, not see themselves as bad loser but in the spirit od sportsmanship, Congratulate the the PDP Candidate , who had been declared winner of the keenly contested elections.
Ever since the Rem-Rukah, the Edo governorship Election Returning officer, announced Obaseki as the winner of the election, congratulatory messages from different quarters in the country had continued to be sent to him from Nigerians.
President Muhammadu Buhari, of the ruling APC, appears to have opened the floodgate of the congratulatory messages to the Edo state re-elected governor when he urged him ‘’to continue to show humility in victory’’. The Katsina state born Nigerian President , in a Statement issued by by Garba Shehu, Senior Specia Assistant, Media and Publicity had said that the President had Commended the election process in Edo state that had produced Obaseki as the governor, reiterating the government’s determination to a free and fair elections. Garba , may have spoken the mind of the President, when he said’’ that without free and fair elections the foundation of the country’s political and moral authority will be weak’’.
Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Cnadidate of the PDP, in the 2019, general elections, who Commended Obaseki for his victory , was said to have also appreciated the people ”for their resilience in the face of the forces against them”. He had described the Edo state governor’s victory at the September 19 elections, ”not only as a victory but a declaration of independennce from antidemocrattic forces of godfatherism and militarism”.
Ben Ayade, a Professor and governor of Cross river state, and four other governors of the PDP, were said to have also sent congratulatory message to Obaseki, described as a giant killer, who had emerged as the newest governor in Nigeria .
Ndudi Elumelu, the Minority Leader of the Femi Gbajabiamila led House of Representatives may have shown his happiness over the re-election of Obaseki as the governor of Edo stat in an election contested by 14 political parties that had fielded Candidates by equally sending a congratulatory message to the governor-elect.
Elumelu had attributed the victory to the governor’s ‘’sterling performance in his first term in office in developing the state and empowering the people’’. The Lawmaker was said to have also appreciated the people of the state for’’the courage exhibited in coming out en-masse not only to vote but also to protect their votes and monitor the process to the end’’. The PDP Caucus in the House were said to have also Congratulated Obaseki, t, describing his victory ‘’as a reflection of the people’s will to elect a credible a leader that that will serve them and not a few’’.
Political Observers believe that with the successful conduct of the Edo state governorship election, by INEC, and role played by the police to remain non- partisan, the Electoral umpire has sent a signal to politicians plotting to rig themselves into power in 2023, to watch their step as it may be very difficult to rig the election.
This is because the Commission have continued to introduce new innovations on how to conduct a free and fair elections in the country based on what is happening in the North American country of the United States, US, where Democracy had taken firm root.
The structures, that had proved successful in conducting the Edo state governorship or the measures that had been put in place for the Ondo state governorship election on October 10, 2020, may be different from the meaures that had been put in place for the 2023, general elections, to avoid giving room to the political office seekers to exploit the loopholes in the different innovations used to conduct the different elections to to rig .