The Edo State governorship elections scheduled for 19th September, 2020 promises to be interesting and keenly contested for many reasons. There has been a swap of roles by the two major candidates – Pastor Osazie Ize-Iyamu has switched allegiance to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and is running as its candidate, while the incumbent, Gov. Godwin Obaseki formerly of the APC, is running on the platform of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Backtrack to 2016, Obaseki won as APC candidate, while Ize-Iyamu lost as the PDP flag bearer. Therefore, it is understandable that the forthcoming elections will be a battle royal between the two leading candidates.
Between 2016 and 2020, a lot has changed and it is important that the Edo electorate get issues in proper perspective. Gov. Obaseki was disqualified based on discrepancies in his credentials by the screening committee of the APC, of course the then National Working Committee (NWC) endorsed the report, alongside two other aspirants also disqualified. The party had swallowed the bitter pill after losing Bayelsa State which it won at the polls to the jurisprudence of the Apex court based on purported discrepancies in the credential of its Deputy Governorship candidate. Who would have thought a sitting Senator’s credentials would in anyway come under the hammer of the Supreme Court? But as we know, the Supreme court judgment is final and the APC preferred to err on the side of caution on Obaseki instead of backing him and risking the “Bayelsa treatment”. The same opposition party now fielding Obaseki raised eyebrow about his qualifications in 2016, and would have done same if he had emerged as APC candidate.
Most analysts have reduced the disqualification of Obaseki to his disagreement with the immediate past APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, but his ordeal transcends such insular conclusion. For reasons best known to Obaseki, 14 out of the 24 Edo House of Assembly members have been surreptitiously shut out of the State and prevented from being inaugurated, over a year after their election despite interventions from the National Assembly, Party hierarchy, Presidency amongst others. The incumbent thumped his nose at the party that brought him into power, not only preventing elected legislators from serving their constituencies but also carried on as “lord of the manor” riding roughshod over party leaders, and at a point threatened the National Chairman for not getting his permission to land in the State. Such was the rabid display of power by Obaseki that alienated him from party faithful across the State and even resulted in the resignation of his Chief of Staff and top aides at some point. It would have been counter-productive for a party worth its onions to field him, even if he had scaled through the screening process.
After receiving an estimated N350bn in three and half years, nothing on ground suggests that his performance is commensurate with the resources. In the words of the Edo PDP Chairman, Dan Orbih, late 2019, “Obaseki brought agony and deprivation to the populace, denying them the benefits expected from democracy. For instance, the 200,000 jobs he promised youths have remained a mirage, infrastructural development for schools have been nothing to write home about, roads and other indices of developments across the State have not fared better.
Now that Obaseki is running under the party of the kleptomaniacs, where all they do is loot, Edo’s future will be mortgaged, God forbid PDP takes the State. If Obaseki can purportedly fritter away N8bn of Edo resources to purchase the PDP ticket, how much more will he need to cater to “fat cat godfathers” in PDP for 4 years? There is a saying that if we don’t look at where we are coming from, we won’t know where we are going to. Edo people must cast their minds back to the “8 years of the locust” of former PDP Governor Lucky Igbinedion where the state resources were turned into a slush fund. He was eventually convicted for defrauding the State.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu like any human might have imperfections, but running under the platform of the APC – a party with progressive ideology led by President Muhammadu Buhari will make Edo State fare better. We have seen the yeo-man’s job of the Federal Government with the National Social Investments Programme (NSIP), infrastructural renewal that has seen Lagos-Ibadan, Warri-Itakpe railway spring up, 2nd Niger Bridge, agricultural revolution in local staples production amongst other laudable, on-going initiatives. A Gov. Ize-Iyamu will be able to synergise with the Federal Government to hasten development of the State. Just recently, Gov. Wike of Rivers, though a PDP Governor, showered encomiums on President Buhari for returning N78bn spent on Federal projects in the State. If he can do that for an opposition State, how much more a State controlled by his party?
The choice before Edo people is crystal clear. It is between choosing a party renowned for its welfarist and pro-people ideology and another whose stock in trade is feathering the nest of its bigwigs with State resources. In this race, you cannot seat on the fence. Don’t be deceived that Obaseki is the candidate of the people, he is actually the candidate of PDP godfathers who are already aroused by the aroma of Edo treasury. We must stop them in their tracks by voting APC’s Pastor Osaze Ize-Iyamu (POI). Yes, we can!
Segun Tomori is a Member of the Media and Publicity Committee of the APC National Campaign Council (NCC) for the Edo Gubernatorial Elections.