By Mercy Obas
Politics in Nigeria has always been characterised by the incessant clashes between the two well-known political parties—The All Progressive Congress (APC) and The People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Edo state, The Heartbeat of The Nation, has been intensely agitated due to the coming governorship election on 19 September, 2020. Although thirteen (13) candidates have been nominated for the election, this is clearly a battle between Adams Oshiomhole, the suspended National Chairman of APC with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as his fighting tool, and the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki. The father-and-son relationship between the duos was strong and evident when Adam Oshiomhole made Governor Obaseki his successor who took over when he won the election in 2016. At present, that relationship is sunken and we see that father has disowned his son, likewise, the son has disowned his father.
Governor Godwin Obaseki’s interest to run for second term in office with his former party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), was truncated when he was disqualified at the primaries and refused the ticket for his nomination. Insubstantial reasons like the fickle in his certificates and the missing letter ‘I’ in his surname on his NYSC certificate were given for the denial of the governorship ticket. As stated by the committee headed by Prof. Jonathan Ayuba “In our interaction with issues raised, we concluded that HSLC was defective; the NYSC certificate and based on the party’s constitution, this has made us to recommend that the above candidate therefore, Obaseki, is not eligible to participate in the election.” However, Obaseki did not see these reasons as substantial because while he ran in 2016, these reasons were not brought up, so he defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) smoothly on June 19, where he was made the governorship candidate for the party.
A victory in this election for Obaseki and PDP will be a big blow in the face of APC and Oshiomhole personally, as Edo is the only state in South-South that APC is in control of for now, pending the result of the election. The sudden and recently rekindled relationship between Oshiomhole and Ize-Iyamu is apparently for his own convenience. They both have had a rocky relationship in the past. Ize-Iyamu was one of the ardent supporters of Oshiomhole when he ran for second term in office in 2012. In 2016, Oshiomhole rejected Ize-Iyamu while he campaigned for governor and supported Obaseki. He called Ize-Iyamu a liar and almost ruined his political career. Their fallout was so bad that their coming back together is rather mysterious.
Governor Obaseki has gotten the ardent support of the South-South governors. Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in an interview with African Independent Television (AIT), said that it is time for the South South region to have one political voice. He also made statements such as “Edo election is not an Obaseki election but for the people of the South South,” “APC has never being a political party, it’s a collection of people that came together to fight Jonathan. That’s why they can’t agree.” and “Edo people rejected Ize-Iyamu in the last election because they saw he wouldn’t be a good governor.”
However, there are mixed feelings of the defection of Obaseki from APC to PDP. Some believe that this defection will be of great impact for the PDP party. The likes of Tony Aziegbemi, the state PDP chairman, revealed that ever since Governor Obaseki defected to PDP from APC, a large number of the public also defected to PDP.
“Every day, people are defecting in the various wards across the 18 local government areas in the state to PDP. Our party and the governor are enjoying massive support from the electorate and the people of the state. I can say that 90 per cent of the electorate is ready to return the governor to the government house during the September 19, 2020 governorship election,” he stated.
While others are convinced that the change will cause great problems for PDP, as it seems that Obaseki made PDP a rebound after he was spurned by APC. Mr. Benson Aigbekaen, a rights activist, said that the governor’s emergence in PDP will always be opposed because it is like a house that wants to be built without digging a foundation. Clearly, that house will collapse.”
“Obaseki is currently like a general without command. He has no political structure to drive his ambition. The governor faces and will continue to face stiff opposition within his new party. Some PDP faithful appear unenthusiastic about his emergence as the party’s governorship candidate for the forthcoming election.”
Oppositions are also springing up from PDP party members. They are of the opinion that the alteration of the party’s plans for the incumbent will not be taken lightly and if it requires working hand in hand with APC party members to guarantee his defeat, then they are prepared.
This forthcoming election will definitely make history in Edo state following the tension in the air. Oshiomhole’s pride and the future of APC in Edo state is at stake, as well as Obaseki’s will to fight for what he deems right.
The battle line has been drawn. Who will come out victorious, Oshiomhole (with Ize-Iyamu as his tool) or the incumbent, Obaseki?