By Dr. Chryss Okonofua
On September 19th 2020, Edo State will be conducting its gubernatorial elections into the exalted office of Executive Governor, for who the salutary appellation “Your Excellency” is attached. It is debatable whether any Nigerian politician is excellent in character and content, an argument better left for your conscience.
Edo state is called the “Heart Beat” of the nation. It is not for nothing that it is so called. It is straddled between the West and the East and perched on the major highway from the South to the North of Nigeria.
It is the land of the Igodomigodos, reputed to be giant sized human beings who fought many battles but lost none.
Edo state has its headquarters in the ancient city of Benin, once reputed to be the city of blood. It’s red sanded streets being very well planned to roll into each other at right angled intersections, all connected to a central round-about at the center of the city.
Edo state could be seen as the senior half of the only constitutionally created region by plebiscite, in Nigeria.
The Heart Beat of Nigeria is also reputed to be the most homogenous state in Nigeria, with all the constituent units tracing their birth and source to the Oba’s palace.
It is also the only region over ran by Biafran forces, in their failed quest for an independent country of their own. While that agitation is raging, Edo state is currently embroiled in its own battle of survival, with two battle tested titans slugging it out on the political front on terms that are less than cordial.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu Esq, has been in politics since his undergraduate days at the University of Benin, an activism that earned him a rustication for a few years. He has crissed and crossed carpeted from one party to the other and back again, seizing every opportunity he thought would earn him the ticket to his dream of being executive governor. This act has shown him as lacking integrity and character, in spite of his religious title of Pastor of the RCCG.
Godwin Obaseki, is the incumbent Executive Governor, a taciturn, egg headed and brain behind the economic engine room of Edo state in the immediate past government of Adams Oshiomhonle.
He was reportedly forced on the All Progressive Party (APC), at the last election, won the election and now battling to retain his seat for another four years under the political umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In short, Godwin crossed carpet to PDP from APC when the latter refused to clear him to run on their platform, while Osagie, reading the intractable political issues in APC, cross carpeted to APC from PDP.
To say that this election circle is embroiled in bitterness and acidic acrimony will be an understatement.
Obaseki stepped on several toes of the once powerful. He derided and sought to dismantle thuggery which had been institutionalized in the state by the previous regime. He is very abhorrent of the fact that uneducated street urchins who had been recruited to be political actors of note in the previous government were again attempting to hijack his government.
He removed the carpet from under the feet of many elected state legislators who were sponsored and unalloyedly loyal to the erstwhile state Governor, who became the national chairman of the APC.The face off led to demolitions of hotel, sack and counter sacks, demonic political machinations that ended in the removal of the former APC chairman, who is now staking and appropriating his political capital to see Obaseki dethroned.
The legendary saying that if two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers is about to be manifested in the ongoing political chess game.
Obaseki as the incumbent governor has the power of incumbency working for him. He has state resources to dip into under whatever vires of expenditure. His loyalty is oiled by the enormous vast state resources at his disposals.
Besides, he is reputed to have done well in maintaining and retaining his civil servants and pensioners who he does not owe salary arrears, a remarkable difference from the norm. And perhaps most importantly is the political capital he has appropriated from the attempt by Oshiomhonle to de register, ridicule and unseat him from Osadebey Avenue.
Ize Iyamu on the order hand has a reputation for malfeasance, political chicanery and prostitution. And largely lack of integrity and character. Oshiomhonle, his sponsor and campaign director is also his undoing and Waterloo. The diminutive Oshiomhonle is finding it awfully difficult to sell a product he had hitherto denigrated.
Edo lites appear to have seen through Oshiomhonle’s political linen, with the general opinion that he is a lying political relic and busybody trying to find political relevance in the coming and unfolding politics of Edo state.
Ceteris paribus or all things being equal, and given the terribly notorious image Oshiomhonle has acquired for himself, Obaseki would not have needed to campaign at all, the entire campaign having been done for him by the ex governor. But all things are not equal!
Ize Iyamu’s plagiarized campaign manifesto called SIMPLE has simply been swallowed up by Oshiomhonle’s ubiquitous presence and the gargantuan notoriety of his 2016 campaign against his candidate.
All these have raised the stakes, and have angered and woken up the most docile political actors and none actors alike in Edo state. People have died in the ensuing political fistcuffs, not necessarily because of the political manifesto especially but a fight of might. This has drawn all stake holders into the theater of politics one way or another.
The royal fathers who are supposedly insulated from politics have shown their biases and thrown their weights behind their candidates covertly or overtly.
On September 19th, one person will come out victorious. That person will be Obaseki because of his efforts at stabilizing the economy and institutions of Edo State (all things being equal). Time would tell if the red sands of Benin would drink and soak the red blood of its people and once again be seen as the city of blood.
Dr. Okonofua wrote in from the USA