The outcome of the recent governorship election in Edo State might have a spillover effect on the Ondo State election slated for October 10, writes James Sowole
The events that preceded the September 19 gubernatorial election in Edo State and the outcome of the exercise, had confirmed the popular saying that, “There is no permanent friend or enemy in politics and that the only thing that is permanent is interest.”
The situation, had also confirmed that the two dominant political parties in Nigeria – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – have no ideology that differentiates one from the other. It has confirmed that the only thing that was changing in Nigeria’s political system is personalities that are in different political parties.
This is evident, when one considers the swiftness with which the two leading personalities, Governor Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, changed positions and which changed the ruling APC to opposition party in the state.
Interestingly, the two personalities confronted each other in the 2016 governorship election. While Obaseki, who won the 2016 election contested on the platform of the APC, Ize-Iyamu was the candidate of the PDP.
But in the September 2020 election, the two candidates merely changed platforms and confronted each other in a ‘rematch’, that was determined largely by the electorate in the state.
The results of the election, also showed that the Edo voters were more resolute to vote for personalities/candidates rather than parties unlike cases in many states in the previous elections.
On the actual day of election, the behaviour of the people at polling units also indicated that with adequate cooperation of the electoral umpire and security agencies, the peoples’ votes could still count irrespective of inducement by political parties to influence the election.
A source said though both the APC and the PDP engaged in vote buying, this never influenced the resolve of the electorate to vote for a candidate of their choice.
INEC delivered on its promises to be fair to all political parties while security agents, monitored events at polling units without compromise.
However, some people believed that the activities of the security agents might have been in informed by the action of President Muhammadu Buhari, who declared that it is the people of Edo State that would elect their governor.
This declaration by the president and the actions that followed after the announcement of results raised the hope of many people and candidates in Ondo State, particularly, among the the three major contenders that the election is open to be won and lost.
The INEC too has not hidden its joy in the conduct and outcome of the election at various fora in Ondo State while interacting with stakeholders.
The commission said it was ready to improve on its performance in Edo Election and prepared to perform better during Ondo exercise, adding that it remained resolute that it is the people of Ondo State, that would decide, who they want as their governor.
Despite the performances of the INEC and security agents, some people still believed that the case might be like what happened during the primary, when governors allegedly prevailed on APC, to use Indirect Primary mode in Ondo State, whereas Direct Mode, was used in Edo State even as Governor Obaseki, was disqualified from contesting the primary.
Those who were of this thought suspected that the case might turn out to be a lost and won situation like it happened during the primary. Some people even alleged that some APC governors, worked to ensure that one of their own (Obaseki) returns irrespective of the party, under which he runs.
Despite these insinuations, the three candidates and their political parties in the forthcoming election have intensified their campaigns and are leaving no stone unturned, while canvassing for votes from the electorate.
The ruling party, APC, despite being suspected to be more favoured in terms of closeness to the federal government, was positively canvassing for votes through personal interaction with the electorate and on various communications channels.
The APC and the candidate had been doing all it could to attract more members from other political parties into the ruling party.
Speaking on the Edo governorship election and its implication on the forthcoming exercise in Ondo State, Chairman of APC, Ondo State, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, said all indices favoured the incumbent Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, to win the election for another term of four years.
Adetimehin said, “Ondo State is quite different from Edo. What we are doing here is different. This state is always a Progressives State. We have never been conservative. In terms of preparation, we are doing door to door; house to house canvassing for votes.
“We have been going from towns around the state. The response we got from the field has been encouraging. You can find out from the field yourself. We have been intensifying on our campaign. Everywhere we go people have been receiving us overwhelmingly. People love Arakunrin Oluwatotimi Akredolu,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the Chairman of PDP, Ondo State, Hon Fatai Adams, said the results of the election, have shown that it is the peoples choice that matters during elections.
“The lessons are many. The result of the election showed that godfatherism was fading away in our politics. Two, it means the choice and opinion of the people cannot be subdued. Three, it means that if you lead well, you can always enjoy the support of the people.
“Ondo State is a PDP state irrespective of the party in government. People love the PDP, because when we were in government, the people enjoyed the government and the party. We have been telling them that they will enjoy more if we come back to power.”
In a statement signed by his Media Adviser, the Deputy Governor and candidate of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Mr. Agboola Ajayi, said the re-election of Godwin Obaseki, showed that Nigerians were improving on the electoral process and will get to the desired destination if we continue to improve with each election.
Ajayi, in the statement signed by Allen Sowore, said at the election, President Muhammadu Buhari, the INEC and security agents did not encourage the use of illegal processes, adding that the people of Edo State voted in line with their conscience.