Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state has emerged as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). For the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has also emerged as the candidate of the APC. Although there are other candidates from other political parties, Nigerians and especially the people of Edo state are aware that the race to the Edo government house is between Obaseki of the PDP and Ize-Iyamu of the APC. There is no bigger truth than this.
Now, let’s do a critical analysis of Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki in the build-up to the September 19 governorship election in Edo state. The two contestants have two full months and two weeks to campaign round the 18 local government areas of Edo state. We are looking at the strength and weakness of each of the two candidates. The two parties, without mincing words, are strong. One cannot actually tell which party is stronger.
At the national level, APC is strong but at the moment it is in disarray. We know that is how they are always been. PDP was one time in heavy crisis when Ali Modu Sheriff was made interim chairman and was no longer ready to leave office. The battle brought PDP to its knees and it was at a point of becoming history in Nigeria. But it later happened that they came together and organised themselves and now they have some fragile peace.
At the state and South-South zonal level, there is no doubt that with the situation on ground, the PDP has upper hand in the state and in the zone. While the APC has upper hand at the national, the PDP has upper hand at the state and regional level. Though the APC has some strong men at the zonal level, it is difficult to say whether the men at the zone will be ready to support the APC candidate because he was singlehandedly picked by the ousted and embattled national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
The zonal advantage of PDP is that it has more foot soldiers than the APC. All the state governors, from the very Edo state running through Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River, are all PDP. But three governors are more trusted in the region who will be ready to give powerful assistance to the governor to win. We have Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom state. These are the three major pillars of the party in the zone.
On the part of the APC, it has heavy hand at the national level. In the zone, the APC has men like Godswill Akpabio, minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Timipre Sylva, Minister of state for petroleum, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, former Delta governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan and Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation. But without mincing words, every Nigerian is aware that Amaechi will not support what was produced by Adams Oshiomhole.
One challenge on the part of Obaseki is that his new found party does not have federal assistance. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Nigerian Police, the army, members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense (NSCDC) are all under the control of the APC federal government. That was one of their biggest advantages in the 2019 general elections. There was massive use of the security agencies to intimidate and harass the opposition during that election.
On the other hand, the PDp is very much on ground in the state and in the zone. There is every likelihood that the governors in the zone, especially the three powerful governors of Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta, will pump in so much funds to prosecute the election. This is to ensure that the party wins the state and Edo ultimately becomes a PDP state in the zone. There will certainly be some great men in Edo state who will work to ensure the victory of PDP.
The family of Igbinedion, the former governor of the state, John Odigie Oyegun, also former governor and former national chairman of the APC will definitely work to ensure the victory of PDP. These people were aggrieved with the actions of Adams Oshiomhole and will do all to ensure his dynasty is pulled down from the state. This is coupled with the fact that Oshiomhole has fallen at the moment.
Another challenge of Ize-Iyamu of the APC is the fall of the man who brought him to the party. The fall of Adams Oshiomhole is surely a big blow to Ize-Iyamu. His support base has seriously been weakened by the thunderous fall of Oshiomhole. Oshiomhole’s fall was due to his arrogance and high-handedness. He felt he was bigger than everybody in the APC and so he could do whatever comes his way and go unpunished. He goofed. He is now reaping the reward for his arrogance.
At the defection of Obaseki to the PDP, many of his supporters in the APC defected with him to the PDP. His cabinet members who are from all over the state, members of the state house of assembly, his deputy and his supporters, all of them moved along with him to the PDP. This action may have reduced the political strength of the APC in Edo state. The APC must have lost great members to the PDP following the defection of the governor.
As it is now, Ize-Iyamu seems not to have a real big leader, either at the national level or at the state level. Oshiomhole’s wings have been removed. Ahmed Bola Tinubu is having running battle with the president. The APC governors are also not pleased with the action of Oshiomhole in the build up to the defection of Obaseki and the emergence of Ize-Iyamu as APC candidate in Edo state.
Now, you can tell where the pendulum is swinging as the election gets close. However, political calculation or predictions may not be perfectly correct as predicted but there are possibilities of the sitting governor clinching the governorship again.