Edo 2020: Obaseki Vs Oshiomhole, Who Wins?

Edo 2020: Obaseki Vs Oshiomhole, Who Wins?

…It’s Battle Royal for Osadebey House …INEC Says Poll Will be Transparent, Reflects People’s Will Although 14 candidates are squaring up for the high stakes Edo State Governorship election, holding tomorrow, Saturday 19th, 2020, amidst tension, violence, throwing of darts, and mudslinging, it is perceived more as a horse race between the incumbent Governor and

…It’s Battle Royal for Osadebey House

...INEC Says Poll Will be Transparent, Reflects People’s Will

Although 14 candidates are squaring up for the high stakes Edo State Governorship election, holding tomorrow, Saturday 19th, 2020, amidst tension, violence, throwing of darts, and mudslinging, it is perceived more as a horse race between the incumbent Governor and Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Godwin Obaseki and the Candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr Osagie Ize Iyamu.

Just like other elections in most parts of the country, the candidates of the two leading parties are likely to share more than 90 per cent of the votes expected to be cast by the 1.7 million registered voters.

The name of former National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole may not be on the ballot, he’s not just the arrowhead of the feverish campaign to clinch victory for Ize Iyamu, his newly found godson, but has become the issue of the election, which is a rematch of the 2016 governorship contest that featured the two leading candidates on reversed platforms. Obaseki, who emerged victorious in the last battle contested on the platform of APC while Ize Iyame was the candidate of the PDP.

Obaseki, who says, he’s out to liberate the state from the stranglehold of “godfatherism” and what many call “Oshiomhole’s shenanegans,” posits that “the election is not between me and Ize Iyamu, I’m not contesting against APC but against Oshiomhole and his EPM (Edo Progressive Movement) faction of the party. The election is about the final political burial of Oshiomhole.”

An undeterred Oshiomhole retorted: “I’m not on the ballot, I’ve done two terms as Governor and can no longer contest but since Obaseki keep saying the contest is between us, let the Edo people compare what I did as Governor and what he has done. His four years have been a failure,” he said.  

The anti-Obaseki campaign which initially started as some shadow boxing against the Governor under the platform of the EPM, finally bared its fangs with Oshiomhole, also a former Edo State Governor, openly wielding the cudgels. This got to an edge with the disqualification of Obaseki as an aspirant of the APC in what was seen as a stage managed process. In what was regarded as an even score, forces loyal to Obaseki also put spanner in the works, securing a court judgement suspending Oshiomhole as national chairman of the APC.

Oshiomhole has accused Obaseki of deviating from the path set by him as Governor. He says Obaseki has failed to live up to the aspirations of the people and the huge allocations that has come to Edo fly in the face of what’s on the ground, asking the electorate to vote massively for Ize Iyamu.

Obaseki and those rooting for him have pointed to his sterling performance as Governor to justify another four year term. The building of the Modular Refinery, Ossiomo power projects, both in Ologbo, the transformation of Samuel Ogbemudia stadium into an Olympic size stadium, retraining of teachers to reposition education under Edobest programme, payment of backlog of pension to retirees and others are fingered as part of bold effort by Obaseki to lay enduring foundation in the state.

Some like Mr Charles Idahosa, former political adviser to Oshiomhole have argued that if Mr Lucky Igbinedion who was Governor from 1999 to 2007 and Mr Oshiomhole, who was also Governor between 2008 and 2016 completed their two terms, denying a second term to Obaseki, who in his opinion has done very well, will amount to injustice.

Obaseki may spring a stunning victory in the election with the support of a rainbow coalition comprising the PDP, a faction of the APC including some serving Governors. Analysts believe that Oshiomhole, who carried out a massive demarketing of Ize Iyamu in 2016, did a great deal of damage to the APC’s candidate’s  campaign.   

Many including Yiaga Africa and Governor Nyesom Wike have however called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to be professional and impartial in order to achieve a free, fair and transparent poll. INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu has also restated the resolve of the Commission to conduct an impartial and transparent election.

“INEC must show utmost professionalism in election administration and ensure timely, effective, and secure deployment of its staff, materials (sensitive and non-sensitive), and other resources needed for the election to enable early commencement of polls.

“We urge INEC to ensure transparency and openness in the management of cancellation of votes and determination of the margin of lead in line with extant electoral laws. Uniformity of processes and consistency in applying its guidelines should be maintained across all polling units and LGAs,” Yiaga urges the Commission.

Governor Wike particularly appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the election is a model in order to instil integrity to electoral conduct in the country.

“Let everyone that loves this country ensures that the September 19, 2020 election is credible, free and fair. The Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should show Nigerians that they can support credible elections.

“INEC should ensure that result sheets are not in the hands of individuals. Security Agencies should not whisk away collation officers and later bring them back with cooked results.

“Complete manipulation of the electoral process causes violence. No politician will cause violence if the Police and INEC do not compromise,’’ he stated

Assuring the Edo electorate that their votes will count, Yakubu said only their votes will determine who becomes the nest helmsman at Osadebey House.

“Our ultimate objective is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Edo State is entirely in the hands of the voters. I wish to reassure you that votes will count and only the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election.

“The Commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on our processes and procedures. Nothing more,” he restated, at the stakeholders meeting held in Benin City on Monday.

A deputy inspector general of Police, an assistant inspector general of Police and eight commissioners of Police are at the head of the Police crack team, which according to the Inspector General of Police will be strictly guided by their rules of engagement. Other security agencies like the Civil Defence Corp have also been deployed for the election.

Yiage have admonished voters and the political parties to exchew vote buying in order to avoid compromising the process.

“Voters should adhere to COVID-19 public health protocols and INEC’s voters’ code of conduct for elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Voters should go to their polling units wearing their facemasks, practice physical distancing and frequent washing of hands, or use hand sanitizers.

“Voters should reject efforts by political parties to buy their votes. Remember to uphold the secrecy of the ballot and be guided by conscience as they cast their vote. Communities are encouraged not to engage in collusion and should let members of the community vote for whichever candidate they prefer.

“Political parties, candidates, and their supporters must refrain from vote-buying and the related practice of compromising the ballot’s secrecy so that the voters of Edo state are free to vote their preference for governor,” it says.

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