….Our Staff Writer in Benin City
Saturday, September 19th is the day that political gladiators in Edo State will flex muscles in the governorship election. The main contenders are the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The incumbent Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who contested and won the election on the APC platform in 2016, is now flying the banner of the PDP. In a reversal of roles, his PDP opponent, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, is now the standard bearer of the APC.
The campaign trains have moved across the state with incursions being made by both sides. However, what are the stakes and how do they stand?
Edo State is divided into three senatorial districts, and it has total of 192 wards. The Senatorial districts are Edo North, which by recent INEC statistics has 24% of the voting population; Edo Central (16%), and Edo South (60%)
On paper, the central should easily go to PDP, while the North will tilt towards APC and the South is deemed the battleground, especially the urban local government areas of Oredo, Ikpoba-Okha and Egor. It is near impossible to win the coveted seat without winning Edo South.
Photo: PDP’s Godwin Obaseki
HOW APC, PDP STAND IN THE ZONES
Edo Central: It has always voted PDP given its historical link with the Chief Anthony Anenih political dynasty. Though the reverred Chief is no more, the party has maintained its hold on the district; winning most seats in the NASS and only losing out at the house of Assembly elections in 2019 due to several factors.
The election in this district is expected to be shaped by the so-called ‘Esan Agenda’. With a Governor Obaseki victory, the Esan people would have a four-year wait to push the agenda of having their kinsman as Governor of the state. This makes the APC’s work more arduous in a state has historically tilts towards the PDP, as would mean asking Esan to wait another eight years to get their desire.
Conversely for the PDP, there are questions about what the district has got from the Obaseki government. Also, there hasn’t been any firm statement from Obaseki or his team on the Esan Agenda. Yet, it must be said that for all discerning son of Edo, the Esan people deserve a shot at the governorship as soon as politically possible.
Photo: APC’s Pastor Ize-Iyamu
HOW APC, PDP STAND IN CENTRAL: This senatorial districts comprises of the five Esan LGAs: Esan Northeast, West, Central, Southeast and Igueben
Esan North-East LGA: with its headquarters in Uromi, it is expected to overwhelmingly go to the PDP. Whether viewed from the episode that followed the elections of Godwin Obaseki in 2016 (then APC candidate) where Adams Oshiomhole wielded the big stick against their Onogie or the fact that the disputed speaker of the Edo HoA, Frank Okiye is from the LGA. it is also Anenih’s home and that of Sergius Ogun of the House of Representatives. Despite anticipate minor resistance from some APC elements, Esan NE should go to PDP.
Esan West LGA: Its people are predominantly rice and pineapple farmers. It is the home LGA of Prof Ambrose Alli, who was governor of defunct Bendel State, and his influence continues to shape elections in the grassroots. Although the family head has declared the family has not adopted any candidate, and therefore members are free to support who they want, many other players and intrigues make this local government interesting.
The Edo APC Chairman, Col Imuse hails from this local government, there is also Tony Omoaghe, Gideon Obakhan, Patrick Aguinede, ex-governor Prof Osunbor and others leading the APC battle here. The PDP also has Joe Edionwele, GT Elder Omofoma, Felix Akhabue (Joefe), who is a commissioner; as well as Marcus Onobun (Member HoA) to push its quest for victory. There are others like Pastor Leo Olu Martins, who though of the civil society stock has his fans and he is supporting the PDP in this elections.
Given the Esan Agenda and the footing of the PDP in this local government, APC, at best, will do well in 4-5 wards, otherwise the PDP has the edge in this local government.
Esan Central LGA: Headquarter Irrua. It is home to the Okajesan of Esanland, who has openly endorsed the APC candidate and even said that this is the first time former APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole has brought a real candidate. It matters also that the Director-General of the APC state campaigns (Gen Cecil Esekhaigbe) hails from Arua Irrua in the LGA, as does Victor Edoro, the factional Speaker of the Edo State HoA elected by 17 members. With the now resigned PDP Ex-Officio Tony Okonigene and the security aide to Frank Okiye, Joe Okonigene joining the APC, along with the presence of veterans like Chief Frank Erewele, Eugene Okoloise, Henshaw Oligbo (until recently a SA to the Governor), Chief Francis Inegbeneki, most importantly, the think tank known as the parliament that sways elections in that LGA is tilting APC.
The PDP will need to keenly contest here, if it intends to maintain a clean sweep in this senatorial district. As it stands, the LGA is tilting towards the APC.
Esan Southeast LGA: But for the Esan Agenda, the APC could easily have flipped this LGA, as Ugbesia brothers are not very involved. However, even if it does not win the LGA, the APC is expected to perform well here. There are a number of APC stalwarts who are no pushovers, yet it is a tall order for the opposition party to flip this LGA, even with the likes of Patrick Ikhariale (two-time HoR member) who is leading the party’s charge.
For the PDP, Esan Southeast is there’s to lose, even though the people have a lot to be angry with the state government for and their very republican and independent nature. One of their leaders, Ken Imasuagbonnis wanting to make a statement, while Peter Aguele, the LGA chairman hoping to reap from his relationship with Obaseki in four years time, PDP will certainly take this local government area – except Lawrence Aghedo (Former Commissioner under Oshiomhole) and Victor Eboigbe who both hail from Ewohimi can lead their people’s complaint against the Obaseki’s government to the extent that their shout of abandonment by Obaseki in the face of the great plans and facilities the Oshiomhole’s Government brought their way since his late wife hailed from there and the Obaseki’s government rescinding most.
Igueben LGA: Headquarter is Igueben. It is the home of former Foreign Affairs Minister and National Chairman of defunct NRC, Chief Tom Ikimi (AKA Oduma), who calls all the shots. But new turks have also emerged and entrenched themselves in the political arena, and this has made Igueben one of the LGAs that the APC will do well in the Central. Recent events and elections in that axis provides indication of a possible upset by the APC, with the efforts of Honourables Ken Ihensekhien and Fidelis Ogbejiele.
Perhaps the work been done by the Delta State Government in the Igbanke, Ekpon axis needs mentioning here as it might impact on the votes. The Delta State Governor, in his ploy to help Obaseki win the elections, has being providing social amenities such as motorable roads to communities they share boundaries with in the last few weeks. It is expected that these communities will see reason to support the PDP for the sort of changes the Delta PDP led government is providing for them, though viewed as a failure in leadership for the Edo State Government such that what many have called an annexation of Edo is now happening.
…To be continued with Edo North and South to come
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