In response to the Peoples Democratic Party’s abject performance in Edo State in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, ADEYINKA ADEDIPE reports that the state’s governor, Godwin Obaseki, has taken to the streets to canvass support.
As two political heavyweights in the state, Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole of the All Progressives Congress, engage in a war of wits, the struggle for the Edo State House of Assembly’s soul has grown ferocious. Both of them are running aggressive campaigns to get their parties enough votes to take over the 24-member Assembly.
As the state’s next governorship election isn’t until 2024, the governor needs to win a majority of members in the assembly to prevent any attempts at impeachment.
The governor, whose party failed to win any seats in the National Assembly or deliver the state to the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25, understands that if he wants to gain the majority in the state assembly, he must work twice as hard. However, this seems unlikely given the voting patterns in the previous election, in which the APC dominated in Edo North and Edo Central while the Labour Party candidates were unsuccessful in both of these regions.
There is yet hope, as the governor-led state PDP is working to change the course of events.
However, the Legacy Group’s lackluster approach to the election, which was directed by PDP Vice Chairman South-South, Dan Orbih, may have significantly impacted the party’s dismal performance. It is obvious that the governor and his faction view this week as vital.
Obaseki has taken his campaign to the markets and streets to urge the locals to vote for his party in the next election on March 18 since doing so would enable him to continue the state’s development.
He was met with cries of Obi (the LP presidential candidate) when he recently visited the Uwelu spare parts market, indicating that some traders do not agree with his concept. He was eventually given a hearing once the tension was reduced. He received a stronger response in some of the other markets he visited with his campaign, which may bode well for his party’s candidates in the March 18 election.
On the other hand, the APC, which was previously doing poorly as the primary opposition party in the state, looks to have been reenergized by Oshiomhole’s election as the senatorial representative for Edo North. Oshiomhole moved to Benin, the state capital, after winning Edo North and defeating the Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, who hails from the same local government as the former APC national leader, in the election on February 25. He has since continued his campaigning in open areas and markets there. He was greeted by a jubilant audience that sang his name everywhere he went. The advantage Oshiomhole has is his ability to enthrall the audience and hold them fascinated with his enthusiasm and passion.
The bitterness caused by the exclusion of 14 APC assembly members in 2019 and the breakdown between the governor and Oshiomhole, which resulted in the APC rejecting Obaseki a second-term ticket, are adding to the intense conflict. Obaseki defected to the PDP, where he achieved his goal of serving a second term.
As would be expected, both sides are exchanging salvos as they engage in a verbal and intellectual duel.
Crusoe Osagie, the special adviser to the governor of Edo State on media projects, claimed in a statement that Oshiomhole’s actions during the House of Assembly election exposed his (Oshiomhole’s) cunning strategy to remove Governor Obaseki via impeachment.
Osagie expressed confidence that the electorate of Edo would support the governor at the polls on March 18 and vote en masse for the PDP to take control of the House, just like they did in 2020.
“The recent comment by the former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, on the outcome of Governor Godwin Obaseki in the elections for the Edo State House of Assembly exposes his devious scheme to remove the present governor through impeachment,” stated Osagie.
“However, we are confident that the Edo people will once again rise up in defense of the governor at the polls on Saturday, March 18, vote en masse for the PDP, and elect a House controlled by the party, as it did in 2020 when they stood with the governor despite the bullying and intimidation by Oshiomhole and his paymasters.
“Obaseki has never put his trust in a godfather or a man. He has put his trust in both God and the populace.
The Chief Media Assistant to Oshiomhole, Victor Oshioke, asserted that Obaseki was afraid of the impending effects of his reign of terror.
“Godwin Obaseki is a toxic politician with blatantly leprous attitudes,” he declared. Any group, location, or person he is associated with suffers contamination and destruction. He ruled Edo State like Herod for almost seven years, being indifferent to the hopes, grievances, and screams of the people who chose him.
The Edo people, however, emphatically rejected him and his PDP group in the presidential, Senate, and House of Representatives elections on February 25, 2023. The Edo State PDP failed to gain any seats in the national parliament for the first time since democracy was restored in 1999 as a direct result of Godwin Obaseki’s cantankerous, heinous, and careless use of state authority to intimidate, repress, terrorize, and impoverish our people.
“On March 18, the people of Edo will once more go to the polls to put an end to the unfortunate characteristics of Godwin Obaseki’s two terms in office: impunity, hatred, insecurity, bad administration, destruction of private property, economic backwardness, infrastructural decay, and disrespect for traditional institutions.
“Oshiomhole is not God, and no one is God. He has never claimed to possess divine authority, hence he is unable to choose or install members of the House of Assembly. The electorate should take care of that. But as a leader, Oshiomhole is urging all Edo citizens to cast their votes for all APC candidates in order to bring back true democracy in Edo State.
The Labour Party’s presidential standard bearer, Peter Obi, was in Edo State on Saturday to rally support for the party’s candidates, underscoring the significance of the assembly election for the party. In the Edo South axis, where the LP candidates fared well in the election on February 25, the party would prefer that he also win the majority in the assembly as a warm-up for the real fight in the 2024 governorship race.
Obi advised party members and locals to keep their heads down and their concentration even if he lost the election. He also urged support for all of the LP candidates running for the House of Assembly, stating that the tsunami of change currently sweeping the nation cannot be halted.
Meanwhile, the state LP chairman, Kelly Ogbaloi, adamantly denied that the party is collaborating with the PDP in the assembly election and labeled recent rumors as “mere rumor.”
I must implore Labour Party supporters not to be demoralized by the results of the presidential election, Obi remarked.
Nigeria cannot be allowed to continue in its current state. With the advent of the internet, the world has become a much smaller place.
“The march toward a new Nigeria has begun. There is a movement, and no one can stop it. Nigeria will not be allowed to continue in its current state. We’ll keep supporting the Labour Party in elections.
The Edo State Chapter of the Civil Society Organizations urged the electorate to vote for genuine candidates into the state House of Assembly and oppose any attempts to impose candidates on the electorate in spite of this high-powered “politicking” between the parties, particularly the PDP and APC.
Kola Edokpayi, a Marxist who spoke on the group’s behalf, portrayed the election on Saturday as a contest between the state’s oppressed citizens and those in positions of authority.
He declared, “The election on March 18 is a contest between the oppressed people of Edo State and the political establishment, which has employed anti-policies people’s to make the masses powerless, helpless, and refugees in their own country.
“The Edo people cannot be ruled by individuals like King Pharaoh, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and Idi Amin, who followed Niccolo Machiavelli’s maxim that the ends justify the methods.
This time, instead of a rubber stamp assembly bound to the executive’s apron string, we need a strong state House of Assembly that can reflect the interests of the entire Edo people.
The election, according to Edokpayi, would make people more aware that power belongs to God and the people.
We’re taking this chance to ask the people of Edo to elect respectable candidates to the state’s House of Assembly, he stated. The status quo in Nigeria since 1960, when political vampires imposed their stooges on the populace, has been clearly transformed by current political events.
“The March 18 election is another significant turning point in the history of Nigeria. The people of Edo will turn out in large numbers to cast their votes for representatives who will represent their interests in the Parliament and to express their annoyance and dissatisfaction with the pattern of governance over time.
“Those with integrity, vision, and the bravery to speak truth to power, regardless of whose ox gets gored, should run for office to represent us. I implore security organizations to safeguard people and property prior to, during, and after the election. Any attempt to manipulate and subvert the will of the people would be met with resistance, whether it came from an individual, a group of individuals, the government, or government agents.
Nonetheless, it is interesting to observe that the governor is working really hard to win over the same constituents who supported him overwhelmingly almost three years ago. There is little doubt that the struggle for the state House of Assembly’s very existence will be fiercely contested.