NO governorship election has generated the variant of heat likethe Edo poll slated to hold across 192 wards today. With a population of a little over 4 million people spread in 18 local government areas, Edo is neither the largest nor the richest state in Nigeria.
Nasarawa, a local government in Nasarawa state boasts of a larger landmass than the South-South state. Yet, the election billed to take place today is one like no other in recent electioneering history in the land.
Seen largely as a two-horse race between incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the contest equally has notable figures perched in the two camps, bent on making a bold statement depending on the outcome of the election.
In the event of a victory for Governor Obaseki, a legion of politicians would struggle to stay relevant in the next four years considering the intrigues, scheming and sheer shenanigans that characterised his exit from the APC- a party on which platform he contested and won his election in 2006.
On the other hand, Ize-Iyamu’s victory is fated to throw Obaseki, deputy governor Philip Shaibu and their associates into a dark, gloomy political oblivion. As over 2.2 million registered voters file out to elect the next occupant of Osadebe Avenue today, Saturday Vanguard takes a look at zones and influencers capable of swinging votes in favour of Governor Obaseki.
This Senatorial district has the highest number of registered voters (1, 281, 998) in the state. Made up of Oredo, Ovia South-West, Ovia North-East, Egor, Orhionmwon, Ikpoba-Okha and Uhunmwode; Edo South would throw up interesting scenario as the two gladiators- Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu both hail from the zone. Obaseki would be backing his political allies here to fire from all cylinders.
First elected governor of Edo state and former APC national chairman; Oyegun has remained an unabashed supporter of Governor Obaseki. Although, a member of the APC campaign council, Oyegun recently in a paid advertorial bared it all on what he thinks of the governor.
“My views and statements on the Edo state political situation have been consistent. I strongly advised against the mistreatment of Governor Godwin Obaseki by the late unlamented National Working Committee of the APC and his subsequent forced exit from the APC. Governor Obaseki stood bravely for the dignity and pride of his people and in the process, suffered unacceptable indignities,” the former governor stated.
Sen. Matthew Uroghide Uroghide is the incumbent Senator representing the Senatorial district in the 9th Senate. The lawmaker, a member of the PDP was a member of the 8th Senate in 2015, again recorded another victory in 2019 beating fierce competition from the APC in the process. He will be keeping his eyes on the ball for the governor, expectedly.
Factors that can earn Ize-Iyamu victory
Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama Until Obaseki’s defection to the PDP; Ogbeide-Ihama, incumbent member of the House of Representatives was touted as the anointed choice of the party for the September 19 election. A consistent politician and twice member of the Green Chamber, the youthful lawmaker is one of the reliable forces the Obaseki/Shaibu campaign can back on to stay put in Osadebe Avenue beyond February 2021.
Sen. Daisy Danjuma
Delectable wife of Nigeria’s former Army Chief, General TY Danjuma, Daisy is a mobiliser per excellence. She is credited to have reached out to the womenfolk across the three senatorial districts preaching the gospel of Obaseki-must-stay beyond 2021 to them. Her huge followership made possible with her philanthropic works through the TY Danjuma Foundation, means her influence is not one to be dismissed by a wave of the hand.
Sen. Ehigie Uzamere PDP chieftain, Senator Uzamere is one of the most colourful politicians in Edo state. A member of the 7th Senate, the former federal lawmaker has been consisted in his call for the renewal of Obaseki’s mandate, citing his record of achievements in his first four years.
Sen. Roland Owie
The first to represent the district following the return to democracy in 1999, 75 years-old Owie is a highly respected figure in Edo politics. Despite his advancing years, pundits see him as a man whose support for Obaseki would propel him to seek votes for him regardless of the hurdles.
What will count for Obaseki
Edo North Senatorial district is the second most populous zone and has a total of 564, 122 registered voters. Made up of six local government areas comprising Etsako East, Etsako West, Etsako Central, Owan West, Owan East and Akoko Edo, the senatorial district is tipped by bookmakers as the zone where the race to Osadebe Avenue would be won and lost today.
Edo North is home to both Oshiomhole and Shaibu with the respective towns of Iyamho and Jattu set to rally behind their sons in the mother of all elections. Although the former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, is not a candidate in this election; his quest to teach Obaseki a lesson in “disloyalty” is public knowledge. But the former APC national chairman is not exactly the politician today that he was when he held sway as governor.
Truth be told, Oshiomhole brought life to Edo North by building access roads to link villages with major towns and cities. The people loved him and sang his praises to high heavens. This popularity however began to suffer a steady decline with the ascension of Obaseki whose management of the state’s financial resources elicited commendation across the federation from his supporters.
Shaibu, riding on his visibility among the masses and strong connection with the clergy and traditional institutions, victory in this zone for Ize-Iyamu a difficult task. Speaking exclusively with Saturday Vanguard, David Igbeneghu, a unit leader in Ward 9, Itsukwi, Etsako East Local Area advanced reasons for Obaseki’s increasing popularity.
“Campaigns are over going by INEC guidelines and timetable. So, I’m not going say anything concerning parties or candidates. All I can say is that we have done our home work and in this area, the umbrella is our symbol. We stand for what is just, right and fair. We are ready for the elections.”
For a truth, notable and influential personalities from this zone abound to give Obaseki genuine hope of staying put in office until 2024.
High Chief Raymond Dokpesi
Media tycoon and chairman, Publicity Secretary of the PDP Governorship Campaign Council, Raymond Dokpesi is a popular figure whose political reach cuts across the three senatorial districts. His home town of Agenebode is home to thousands of registered voters, many of whom look up to him as a mentor and role model.
He is a graduate of Business Administration from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and currently, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Obaseki on Sports. Omokhagbor’s strength is his grassroots appeal and ability to mobilise his people for any course he believes in. In the build up to the governor’s tour of wards in Edo North, Omokhagbor pulled a huge crowd in his home town of Okpekpe.
The feat earned him deserved encomiums from the state government as Shaibu publicly acknowledged the reception as one of the best they got in the course of the electioneering campaigns.
Expectedly, the people of Okpekpe, Ebelle, Ukhomhedokha and nine other villages that make up ward 10 would follow the political path of their lovely son in this election.
Hon. Benedicta Ebuehi
The Executive Chairman, Etsako East Local Government Area hails from Okpekpe. Seen as one of the closest government officials to Obaseki, Benedicta, the “Iron Lady,” is a seasoned politician adored by the young and old alike.
Her awareness campaign across the nooks and cranny of the local government at the height of COVID-19 as well as palliatives distributed to cushion the effect of the pandemic, won her a place in the heart of all and sundry, even across political divides.
Like Omokhagbor, Ebuehi’s touch with her people since she assumed office makes her a great asset to the Obaseki/Shaibu’s ticket.
Comrade John Osi Akhigbe Incumbent Chairman, Etsako Central Council is a chieftain of the PDP. Nicknamed “The Promise Keeper,” owing to his philanthropic activities, Akhigbe’s down to earth disposition is such that people in the Fugar axis relate with him as “commoner.”
He holds the ace for the governor in his zone. Alhaji Imonofi Inusa He is expected to call the shots from the Auchi/ Jattu axis as chairman of Etsako West Local Government.
A close ally of Shaibu, Inusa would carry the responsibility of delivering the largest council in the senatorial district on his shoulders. Apart from his closeness to the masses, Inusa has been championing the cause of the traditional institution; a development that is likely to play up in this election.
Apart from the aforementioned, the likes of Damian Lawani (Commissioner for Youths and Special Duties) and Moses Agbukor (Commissioner for Water Resources) are expected to take centre stage in the big contest.
Made up of five local governments comprising Esan South-East, Igueben, Esan North-East, Esan West and Esan Central, the Senatorial district has a total of 364, 998 registered voters.
Since the return to democracy in 1999, the zone has remained a stronghold of the PDP. Even with the exit of Chief Tony Anenih, every attempt to take the zone has so far failed to see the light of the day.
Oshiomhole’s trouble for Ize-Iyamu (The Traditional Institution) Oshiomhole is not only a confirmed “enemy” of Anenih (even in death); a man seen largely by his people as “The leader,” his suspension of Chief Anslem Edenojie, the Ojuromi of Uromi is a tragic tale yet to be forgotten by the people of Uromi.
An injury to one is an injury to all! The traditional institution was united behind him as he had Obaseki to thank who promptly reinstated him to his stool. Thus, Obaseki can afford to see this zone as something already in the kitty. Like other districts, powerful figures are on hand to press the buttons for the governor across the five local government councils.
Sen. Clifford Ordia
Ordia is the incumbent senator representing the zone at the National Assembly. A vocal critic of the APC; the tough-spoken lawmaker is one of those Obaseki is relying upon to sell the MEGA blueprint among the people.
Chief Tom Ikimi
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ikimi is the chairman of the PDP Disciplinary Committee whose wealth of experience in electioneering history would prove invaluable for the party in this election.
It is hard to see the APC making any significantinfoads into a zone where they have continuously suffered electioneering shellacking for years.
Mike Onolomemen He has remained a PDP member in thick and thin. A loyal party man, the former minister of Works is one of the reasons APC has been unable to take the zone from the PDP.
It took quite a while for him to let go of his governorship aspiration for Obaseki but once he did this, support for Obaseki has been total. His energy during the campaigns was as consistent as the sun in dry season.