The imminent gubernatorial tussle between APC and PDP  in Edo State, and their desperate supporters, has degenerated into a pitched battle of a sort. It is however necessary to understand why the turf is getting interesting and unpredictable by the day. 

Governor Godwin Obaseki

Over a year ago, on June 17, 2019, Governor Godwin Obaseki inaugurated the Edo Assembly with only 9 members in attendance, out of 24. The rest 14 who were said to have ‘controversial issues’ and whose seats were declared ‘vacant’ were not allowed to participate in the swearing in ceremony. Perhaps, this development constitutes part of  a great political miscalculation on the part of Obaseki. What he sought to avoid then has  ended up haunting him now.

Ize Iyamu

Taking advantage of ongoing political intrigues in the state, as a build up to  September 19 election, the 14 estranged APC lawmakers decided to pledge their loyalty to Adam Oshiomhole. It is interesting to know that the sacked former national chairman of APC grapples with the last modicum of his tattered reputation towards ensuring that APC government is retained in Edo by next month’s election.  If he fails to achieve that, he may start a long journey into political irrelevance, and other grand permutations towards 2023 presidential election may equally suffer.

The group of 14, now 17 legislators had to petition Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the federation on August 4, to restore a functioning Assembly in Edo and free them from legislative redundancy. In their petition, they accused Governor Obaseki of fostering a political disequilibrium in which PDP, a party with  a minority representation of 7,  was allowed to control an elected  APC majority of 17 members who controlled 60% of Edo people. This was not only a political fraud but also an injury on democracy, which is a principle founded on majority rule.

Responding, Malami wrote to the Inspector General of Police to provide  immediate security for the 17 lawmakers. While the police from Abuja occupied and barricaded the Edo Assembly, the 17 legislators were inaugurated  by the Assembly’s Deputy Clerk,  Mr Tom Efezokhae, who administered the oath of office to them at an undisclosed place.

Following their inauguration, the lawmakers went ahead to impeach the House Speaker, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye, the strongest ally of the governor,  replacing him with Victor Edoror. Apparently afraid that the police may allow the estranged lawmakers  to take over the Assembly and do the unimaginable, the governor’s group went into emergency renovation work on the Assembly building. But that’s not the end of Obaseki’s fears and hidden intentions. While political mudslinging continues, tension is still very high concerning Edo governorship race.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has endorsed Ize Iyamu as the APC flagbearer in the forthcoming election. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Chairman of PDP Campaign Committee in Edo, has criticised the president over this, as he knows that Iyamu is standing trial against the state for corruption and other financial crimes. Also, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, and Chairman of APC Campaign Team has described Obaseki as an easy run for APC because he is a liability to PDP and a non-performer. But beyond all these shenanigans the ordinary people in Edo are sharply divided between those that want the old order of entrenched godfatherism to go, and those  who are still gullible and conscious of material gains. 

Overall, Obaseki needs more than his power of incumbency to retain his position as Edo governor. The powers against him are enormous, and his own party support appears shaky. Within the time available, he needs to reach out more to the grassroots. Without solid supporters politics could be a dangerous game.

John Daniel Obioma.

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