By Tunji Fagbohun
The attitude of the average electorate to a candidate can be easily measured by how they respond to his or her political campaigns and that simply explains why some politicians go the extra mile to invest hugely in ‘crowd purchase’ for their rallies.
So far so good, everything seems to be working in the favour of the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate for the September 19 election in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. This is because the feedback and the crowd that have been attending his campaigns only suggest that the people are in need of a change and that he is the change they have been waiting and praying for.
Ordinarily, quite a number of Edo State citizens hold the view that as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2016 governorship election, he defeated the incumbent governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki but was rigged out.
Ize-Iyamu got the PDP ticket defeating his closest rival, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen with a wide margin of 584 to 91 in the primary held on June 20, 2016 in what indicated how acceptable he was and still is among the people.
From the outset, after the kick-off of his campaign, Chairman, State Media Campaign Council for the Edo Governorship election, Mr. John Mayaki, described the August 9 APC kick-off campaign for Ize-Iyamu, which was attended by several APC governors, ministers and party leaders, as a display of the party’s unity and consensus to ensure the victory of its candidate.
“For Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the sail has set, and the winds seem aright for sure victory. Through a modern and inclusive engagement so far, he has obtained the favour and love of the people, and by the significant flag-off event yesterday (Sunday, August 9), the APC will no doubt reclaim Edo State,” Mayaki said.
He posited further that by the peaceful nature of the rally, Ize-Iyamu had obtained the favour and love of the people and that his victory in the September 19 election was reassured.
Governors Mai Mala Buni (Yobe State), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Babajide Sanwo-olu (Lagos), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Deputy Governor, Chief Edwin Onoja (Kogi), Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, the 17-pro Oshiohmole Edo State House of Assembly lawmakers, Minister Rotimi Ameachi, Minister Timipre Sylva, and Minister Uchechukwu Oga were few of the dignitaries present at the event.
It was not just about the APC leadership alone, there were a lot of respectable persons from the traditional institutions, religious circles, business world and most notably, the huge crowd was ecstatic – they were so jubilant and they participated effectively in the programme of event in what showed that the people had taken possession of the APC candidate’s ambition as theirs. It is now a movement.
The APC was particularly elated that the kick-off recorded remarkable success at the palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, where, after he fulfilled the necessary traditional rites of obeisance, Ize-Iyamu got the royal blessings, which Governor Godwin Obaseki, did not receive during his turn, which turned violent.
Identifying some of the “necessary ingredients” needed for such important event, Miyaki stated that Obaseki missed it due to the “usual sloppiness and disorganisation that rendered his administration impotent and a complete failure.”
Later, on Wednesday, at Etsako West and Etsako Central local government areas, the APC campaigned at Ekperi and Auchi and as seen at the kick-off, witnessed large crowds, who vehemently affirmed their support for Ize-Iyamu’s bid to become the next governor of Edo State.
The APC candidate also used the opportunity to promise to empower women in the state. He was particular about traders working in the informal sector. He said he would assist them with microcredit schemes to enable them grow and revive some businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.
Ize-Iyamu told the ecstatic crowd that if voted into office, he would be different from the “non-performing” administration of Governor Obaseki and assured the people that his well-thought-out plan and documented manifesto tagged the SIMPLE agenda, contains realistic policy programmes and plans to move the state forward.
He also vowed that he would find a lasting solution to the security and flood challenges of the state, with emphasis on both councils, and equally create an enabling environment that would attract investments and provide job opportunities for the youths.
Former APC National Chairman and former governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who spoke in Ekperi and Auchi, criticised Governor Obaseki for not continuing the construction of a link road between Ekperi and Anegbette, which he started. He said the governor betrayed the trust of the people and abused the powers of his office in pursuit of selfish goals.
“The APC will restore good governance and not use propaganda to deceive the people,” Oshiomhole assured the people.
The story was the same at Esan land, Edo Central Senatorial District, where thousands of residents stormed the venues of the campaign in support of Ize-Iyamu.
It was a very impressive outing for the APC candidate at Igueben, Ubiaja and Uromi, the administrative headquarters of Igueben, Esan South-east, and Esan North-east local governments. He told the crowd that his SIMPLE Agenda would attract investments and development into Edo Central senatorial district.
Ize-Iyamu again received royal blessing at Igueben from the traditional rulers of Edo Central, who gathered at the palace of the Onojie of the Igueben Kingdom, HRH Ehizojie Eiluojerio I.
He harped on his plan to partner the traditional institutions in addressing insecurity and non-aligning policies between the government and the citizenry. He also promised that he would promote cultural values and tradition that are beneficial to the state and the people.
He told the multitude that were at his campaign in Ubiaja that he would continue Oshiomhole’s development programmes that were abandoned by Governor Obaseki in the areas of road construction, schools, health centres and others, while at Uromi, the APC governorship candidate inaugurated a borehole donated by a community leader in Ward 8, Efandion, Professor Steve Iyayi.
Ize-Iyamu gave the message of hope to the people. He said his government would protect and secure their farmlands, invest in tools that would aid productivity and market their produce to foreign buyers. He also assured the people that he would tackle erosion and lack of basic amenities.
Curiously, as though a man, who has secured the Grace of God upon his life, Ize-Iyamu is getting the support of the people of Edo State. His campaign, which is now a movement, is attracting genuinely enthusiastic voters and a reflection of how the outcome of the election will look like. The die is cast.
*Fagbohun works and lives in Lagos