The desperation of Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki

There is no question as to the fact that no governorship election in the history of Edo State has been as unpredictable and tension packed as the one scheduled for September 19, 2019. The two major candidates, Governor Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC respectively have their strong credentials that make the duel almost unpredictable. It is, however, remarkable that besides the two men, that one prominent factor or personality who has become almost the issue in the campaigns is the immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Oshiomhole has by his visibility, and recurring presence around the campaign grounds, become about the most mentioned name by both candidates. While Pastor Ize-Iyamu laments Mr Obaseki’s alleged abandonment of the good governance he claims Oshiomhole started, the governor in his several campaigns is talking about the alleged failures he inherited from the former administration. Indeed, by the nature of his preeminence in the campaign, Comrade is achieving a unique feat that only few former governors can attest to; to wit, being a factor in four straight governorship elections in a state.
Obaseki OshiomholeNot only was he a factor in the two elections he won in 2007 and 2012, he was a domineering factor in the 2016 election. After the not too pleasant experiences that curtailed his chairmanship of the APC, it was supposed that Oshiomhole at 68, should find comfort in the hands of his beautiful wife and grand-children. However, from the jaws of the fiasco of the national chairmanship, Comrade has unfurled, reinvented himself and again gained political relevance to the point of sacking an incumbent governor. Comrade’s passion inevitably prompts the question; why is Oshiomhole desperate to stop Obaseki from a second term? The answer is easy. A second term for Obaseki will not destroy Edo State, but will destroy Oshiomhole not only politically, but also psychologically and eventually physically.
Emmanuel AzikenWhile many Edolites and Nigerians have accepted with political equanimity Comrade’s volte face on Ize-Iyamu after the humiliating insults of the 2016 campaign, living through an Obaseki second term will be quite a different scenario for Oshiomhole. A second term for Obaseki will see Oshiomhole live in the shame of having his enduring political foes take the centre stage over where he once operated both in Edo and the national level. It would finally settle the childhood rivalry between him and his Etsako brother, Chief Dan Orbih. It would also lead to the rehabilitation of Chief Lucky Igbinendion, a onetime benefactor he betrayed in the same way that he was also betrayed by his own mentee, Obaseki. Even more, a victory for Obaseki would mean the political atrophy of the many men and women who have counted Comrade as their leader. The desperation is not only on the part of Oshiomhole. Signs of desperation can also be glimpsed from the APC candidate, Ize-Iyamu. His reconciliation with Oshiomhole after the insults of four years ago and the former governor’s failure to look him in the face in the public and say I am sorry smacks of desperation. Besides, this is about the last chance for Ize-Iyamu to bid for the governorship. If Ize-Iyamu loses it this time it would be difficult to sustain him as a candidate in four years time in either political party. The main reason is that if Obaseki wins, the political elite in the Edo Central Senatorial District would in 2024 unite themselves to seal the governorship for the area on the crest of the evolving Esan Agenda. Signs of desperation are also evinced in the conduct of Obaseki. Governor Obaseki had been severally alleged to have dammed the political class at the beginning of his governorship and reportedly claiming that he would not kowtow to them for a second term. All that seems like ancient history now with the governor now pulling all the tricks of those politicians he once despised. The sight of the governor trying to speak Pidgin English at campaign venues shows the zest in him for the second term. If not desperation, what would make a man shuttle as Obaseki did from Abuja to Uyo, to Port-Harcourt and then Benin all in one day as he sought the buy-in of fellow PDP governors for his defection? These marks of desperation in the political class in Edo State underline the case for probity from the electoral commission. Unlike what happened in 2016 in Edo and the scandalous rejection of its own mantra in Kogi, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC must gird itself within the frames of legality as it conducts this very tricky election.

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