Edo election: Between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu who blinks first?
By Oludare Mayowa
At the end of the tally on Saturday, September 19, the winner and losers in the Edo State governorship election would have probably emerged and calmness may gradually return to the state if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) handles the poll the way it should be and the process is not marred by violence and precipitated crisis.
The clear winner of the election will definitely be between the incumbent, Godwin Obaseki and his strong opponent, Osegie Ize-Iyamu, while others on the ballot are more of appendage and pretenders as the case may be merely participating in the election for relevance and perhaps prestige.
From the analysis, the battle for the souls of the state has not been an easy one between the frontrunners who were also the major contender in the last election held in 2016 albeit from different political parties against the platform they are now deploying.
The irony of this year’s election was that both Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu have switched platforms while the governor who contested on the APC platform in 2016 is now the candidate of the PDP. Also, his main opponent, Ize- Iyamu was the candidate of the PDP four years ago and he is now the bride of the APC, the party he was once a member prior to his jumping ship in the last election because of his challenges with the then state governor.
The contest between the two candidates has turned the politics of Edo upside down with the realignment of previously sworn enemies and foes on both sides of the divide.
Allegations of one party planning rigging against the other keep flying around from the two camps while the threat of violence and real violence has been a dominant part of the campaign by the two main parties since electioneering was declared open by the umpire.
The rating of the two main contenders are of equal proportion and this will make the prediction on where the pendulum will swing this Saturday tough to call.
Both have the advantage of incumbency factors in their favour; one as the sitting governor who controls the treasury of the state and wields some influence of some sort, while the other with the full backing of the federal might and perhaps the national treasury too behind him.
Also, both are not new to the contest for the governorship position, having fully participated four years ago together with the margin of defeat then very narrow in favour of the incumbent at the time.
Political analysts said that Obaseki victory at the last election was more as a result of the influence of his party then, APC which deployed the opportunity of being in power at both state and federal into good use.
Ize-Iyamu, who has been described as a grass-root politician lost narrowly to Obaseki due to the incumbency factor and the strong negative sentiments whipped up against him by the then governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
Today, the table has turned full circle, now Oshiomhole has now joined forces with Ize-Iyamu, but unlike the previous election, he is no longer in power as governor and has even lost his crown as the party national chairman to the intrigues heralding the Edo election.
Analysts said the odd could favour Obaseki in the sense that he could garner some sympathy votes from some elements in the state who may have felt that he was unjustly denied the APC ticket because of his disagreement with his former godfather.
They have equally argued that his management of the House of Assembly crisis and the mass resignations of some political office holders in his cabinet at the last minutes to the election could also work against him.
However, a win by Obaseki at the end of Saturday’s ballot will mean the political end of Oshiomhole in the state, same goes for a win by Ize-Iyamu would equally mean the end of the road for Obaseki and the return to reckoning by the immediate past APC national chairman.
The unfortunate thing about the two main contenders in the election is that both are subtly and heavily relying on the use of violence and rigging to win and not the votes of the Edo people to win the election.
Information filtering from the state showed that arms have been deployed by both parties among some youths as part of their counterforce to help sway the election in their favor.
Ordinarily, the election would have been a straight fight for the incumbent had he maintain peace and cordiality with his former godfather, Oshiomhole because of the fact that the PDP in the state was in comatose until the entry of Obaseki after he was denied the ticket of the APC.
But with his battle of attrition to decimate his political godfather and his decamping to the opposition party, the two leading parties have been strengthened by the battle for supremacy to face the battle headlong.
Whatever happens at the end of Saturday’s election could be a pointer to the direction of alignment toward the 2023 general election.
It is obvious that the two main political parties will want to outdo themselves in the race to win the state to further consolidate their positions ahead of the general election in 2023.
* Next week, the Ondo State governorship election will be our focus. Stay with the Global Financial Digest for more in-depth news analysis.