Ahead of the Edo governorship election coming up today, there has been a lot of tension, and anxiety, not only among the key gladiators, and other stakeholders but generally among Nigerians on how the exercise will go. However, while Edo people are expected to turn out in their large numbers to exercise their franchise ,some prominent Edo indigenes have expressed support for candidates of their choice, and here is a run up on how they can influence the poll.
Although the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole is not a candidate in the poll, but his name has continued to feature prominently ahead of the election. Oshiomhole, a former governor of the state took Nigerians, especially Edo people by surprise when he endorsed Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a man he had once publicly castigated during the run-up to the 2016 election. He had been engaged in a running political battle with Governor Godwin Obaseki who had earlier been considered to be his political associate, and ally. The political disagreement between him, and the governor eventually cost him his job as the national chairman of the APC.
It is generally believed that whoever emerges victorious today between Obaseki, and Ize-Iyamu will have his victory largely attributed to the role played by Oshiomhole. Many people in Edo state however are having a feeling that Oshiomhole is trying to impose a governor on the state by openly campaigning for Ize-Iyamu. They see him as trying to play the role of a godfather who is trying to carve a political empire in Edo state. His rejection of Obaseki is even a major reason why many in Edo are supporting the governor.
His critics claim that they were shocked that a man who devoted much of his energy to fight godfatherism can suddenly make a u-turn by trying to foist himself as the new godfather of Edo politics. However, his combative political style notwithstanding, Oshiomhole still remains a strong force to be reckoned with in Edo politics even though he still has several political foes who are eager to send him to political oblivion.
Oshiomhole’s political machinery still remains very strong across the 18 local government areas of the state, and many of his loyalists ,are still solidly behind him. Not only that, these supporters are working actively for Ize-Iyamu. Oshiomhole is also a leader with a strong home base in his Etsako West local government area where he is well loved and adored by the people. He may swing votes in his local government in favour of his preferred candidate.
The Igbinedion family has also been noted for playing critical roles in governorship elections in Edo state. The patriarch of the family ,and the Esama of Benin, Sir Gabriel Igbinedion has been involved since 1999 when he first helped to install his son Lucky as the state governor. The duo later joined forces in helping Oshiomhole to become the state governor in 2008. They however later parted ways with Oshiomhole, and declared their support for Ize-Iyamu in 2016 but their efforts did not make much impact as Ize-Iyamu who was then the PDP candidate didn’t win the election.
Ahead of today’s election, there were initial concerns about who the family will back for the poll, but the initial doubts were doused when the Esama, Lucky Igbinedion and Omosede, his daughter, declared support for Obaseki. Not only that, the Esama, and his son actively campaigned for Obaseki. The two were reported to have played prominent roles in the defection of Obaseki from the APC to the PDP. Political analysts are of the view that Obaseki may win Ovia north-east local government area where the Igbinedions hail from because of the considerable support he enjoys from the family.
Another force to reckon with is Shaibu, the deputy governor of Edo state. Hitherto regarded as Oshiomhole’s godson before the two parted ways over irreconcilable differences, Shuaibu since his defection to PDP with Obaseki has made the party more popular in Etsako West Local Government area where he hails from.
Considered to be a grassroots man, many believe that it is a result of the party leaders’ belief in his ability to deliver that compelled the PDP leadership to allow him to run with Obaseki after they both defected from APC to the party.
The former majority leader in the Edo state house of assembly has been very consistent during the campaigns that no man should attempt to play God in Edo politics, a clear reference to his political mentor ,Oshiomhole who he further said can’t determine the political fortunes of Edo people. There is no doubt that he will play a crucial role in PDP’s hope of winning the crucial Etsako west local government votes. Many are of the opinion that Chief Tom Ikimi has in a way come to fill in the leadership vacuum created by the death of Chief Tony Anenih, former Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP.
Although not seen as being influential like Anenih, but Ikimi the Oduma of Igueben and former national chairman of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), is seen as a strong political force among the Esan people. In him, they believe they have an elder statesman, who can not only fight for the political interests of his people but can also represent their interests very well. Known to be very strong in Edo Central zone, PDP will be putting hopes on Ikimi with his political influence and clout to win Igueben local government area for the party.
Matthew Urhoghide, a two-time Senator, and currently representing Edo South was reported to be among the first PDP leaders to welcome Obaseki to the party. Reported to be a loyal party man, he rejected overtures to contest for the PDP gubernatorial ticket. He is one of the party leaders that have been vigorously campaigning for Obaseki especially in his base, where he may swing votes in favour of his candidate in the election.
Pius Odubu is an ally and former deputy to Oshiomhole when he was the state governor. Odubu is among politicians with strong political structure in Edo state. Initially reported to be hesitant to work for Ize-Iyamu, but Odubu later pitched his tent with Ize-Iyamu, and since then he has not only been visible but also very active in Ize-Iyamu’s rallies.
One of the reasons that has been adduced for working against Obaseki was the governor’s alleged damaging role Obaseki played in his attempt to head the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Odubu will like the victory pendulum to swing Ize-iyamu’s way in order to remain politically relevant.
Kenneth Imasuangbon who has been dubbed the serial governorship candidate is a grassroots politician who is known to add value to any party he chooses to pitch his tent with. During the last election in 2016, he was in APC camp , but this time around PDP is his preferred party. Popularly as ‘’rice-man’’, he stepped down for Obaseki in the race for the PDP ticket. Not only that, Imasuangbon has been campaigning for the governor round the state. He is reported to be solidly on the ground in his Ewohimi country home and Esan southeast local government area.