Echoes of election drama in Edo

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Correspondent OSAGIE OTABOR examines why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the presidential election in Edo State and the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the House of Assembly polls.

During the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign rally in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki boasted that the state would deliver one million votes to President Mohammadu Buhari. By the time the votes were counted on February 23, the Edo APC was defeated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a margin of 7849 votes. The PDP won in eight local government areas and had a total of 275,691 votes while the APC won in 10 local government area with a total of 267,842 votes.

The loss of the February 23 presidential and parliamentary elections has dealt a big blow to the Edo APC. It was a defeat leaders of the APC in Edo South Senatorial District never expected, especially in the three metropolitan Oredo, Ikpoba-Okha and Egor. The margin in these three local government was so wide that victory from other local government areas could not bridge the gap.

In Oredo for example, the APC scored 21,496 against the 35,841 garnered by the PDP. And Oredo is supposed to be the stronghold of Governor Godwin Obaseki, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, National President of Road Transport Employers of Nigeria, Comrade Osakpamwan Eriyo, Chief Osaro Idah, Captain Hosa Okunbor, Secretary of Edo APC, Lawrence Okah, Attorney General of the state, Professor Yinka Omoregbe, Chairman of SUBEB, Joan Oviawe, Nigerian Ambassador to Mozambique, Hon Uyi Igbe amongst others.

The APC lost all the 10 wards in Egor local government and polled 11,903 while the PDP got 23,556 in the presidential election. It was the huge votes from Edo North senatorial district where National Chairman of the APC,  Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, hails from that narrowed the margin of defeat. Buhari polled 114,071 votes from Edo North. The APC won in all the six local government areas in Edo North.

What made Edo South APC leaders sure of victory was that the excuses given for the 2015 defeat were no longer tenable. In the 2015 general elections, the PDP defeated the APC with a margin of defeat of 78,400 by scoring 286,869 votes while the APC had 208,469 votes. The PDP won two senatorial seats and five House of Representatives seats while the APC had one seat in the Senate and four seats in the House of Representatives. The factors adduced for the defeat were that the PDP had huge financial war chest from the then federal government and the support of security personnel to harass and detain APC chieftains.

However, without the resources available to the Edo PDP in 2015, the party was able to win elections in Ovia North East, Oredo, Ikpoba-Okha and Egor.

Earlier in January this year, a chieftain of the PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, had said in an interview there were many members of the APC that refused to defect and are prepared to work for the victory of the PDP.

But Mr. Charles Idahosa replied that the Edo APC leaders have identified those planning to sabotage the APC chances of winning the election in Edo State.

He said: “It will interest you to know that we are already aware of the saboteurs within the Edo APC. We are waiting for them but we don’t want to expose them. We are monitoring them. We want to see how they will do it. The APC is bigger than any of us. The APC will outlived us.

“The truth is that Obaseki is doing well. Before the rally, they held a meeting somewhere in Abuja that Edo State will not get up to 20 percent of the population at Garrick.

“They met with Oshiomhole and told him all kinds of stories that Obaseki is not doing well. The people complaining are people like me and other party leaders who are not having bounteous time. We know people are susceptible to change and you cannot say Oshiomhole is Obaseki. Obaseki style is different and we are happy. We, the political leaders, are not getting the bounty harvest we used to get but we have to face the reality.

“The survival of the party is paramount. You saw the crowd at Garrick, it is due to how the general public perceive Obaseki. The people are with him but because we are vocal and are the political leaders. It is not the common man that is complaining.

“The ordinary man is with Obaseki. The civil servants are happy, he is constructing roads and building infrastructure across the state. He is preparing Edo for the future. It is high time those of us politicians that are shouting key into the Obaseki’s vision. We should stop all the complains.”

Governor Obaseki might have promised Buhari the one million votes apparently based on the over 500,000 APC members that turned out to participate in the APC presidential primaries and the achievements recorded by his administration. He has created 77,000 jobs. He is called ‘Wake and See’ Governor and ‘Governor of Oredo’ due to numerous roads constructed and others under construction. Salaries are paid as at when due. Reforms in local government administration have led to astronomical rise in the council’s IGR which in turn led to payment of arrears of salaries owned local government staff. He, however, failed to realise that some party chieftains were waiting in the wings to humiliate him.

Some APC leaders who attributed the electoral loss to internal sabotage by aggrieved APC chieftains said some leaders did not spend the mobilisation fund given to them because they felt it was their own share having been abandoned for over two year.

The hate speech against President Buhari by some religious leaders made it difficult to convince some voters to vote for the APC. Many Christians were told pointedly to vote against Buhari. An APC chieftain in Egor said many voters were out to vote out President Buhari  and in the process voted against all APC candidates.

He said, “Our members voted for us but other non-partisan people voted against Buhari and in the process they voted against other APC candidates.”

A chieftain said the battle for the APC governorship ticket in 2020 was responsible for the role some leaders played in Oredo, Egor and Ikpoba-Okha. It was learnt that those interested in Obaseki’s job asked their boys to work for the PDP so as to discredit Obaseki before the national leadership of the APC.

Other factors adduced were lack of political patronage, non-appointment of boards of parastatals and alleged imposition of unpopular candidates and party chairmen.

A former Chairman of Oredo and candidate of the APC for Oredo East, Osaro Obazee, insisted that internal sabotage was not responsible for the defeat of the APC.

“We did not loose the election. It is voter education we need to embark on. It is politics. A lot of people will say what they want to say. After election, we did appraisal of what happened and we discovered that the people who voted for voted wrongly and that was why the results were voided.

“If a lot of our results were not voided, we would have been declared. There is nothing like internal sabotage. The major factor is that those who voted did not know how to vote.”

Speaking on the outcome of the elections, Governor Obaseki, said the APC performed better when compared to results of the 2015 general elections and expressed appreciation to Edo people for the growing acceptance of the party.

Obaseki, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, assured that the APC  would record better results in the March 9 House of Assembly elections.

According to him, “With the results out, it is obvious that there is a growing acceptance of the APC in the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state. The margins show that we have considerably closed the gap here. The outcome of the polls turned out to be better than the previous one held in the state in 2015.

“A comparison of the results shows that in 2019, PDP polled 275,691, and the APC got 267,842; while in 2015, the PDP scored 286,869 against APC’s 208,469 in the presidential election.

“In 2015, the margin of defeat was 78400 votes, but in 2019, it dropped by 90 per cent to 7849 votes. This is a considerable improvement on the party’s performance.

“We appreciate the people of Edo for coming out en masse to cast their votes and for aligning with the vision of returning President Muhammadu Buhari, and we wish to congratulate them for the party’s strong showing.”

Hon Ehiozuwa has however kicked against the results released by INEC for Ikpoba-Okha/Egor Federal Constituency in which his PDP opponent, Jude Ise-Idehen, was declared winner.

Candidate of the All Progressives Congress Hon Ehiozuwa Agbonnayima, has rejected the results of the February 23 National Assembly elections.

Speaking to newsmen in Benin City, Agbonnayima said reports from APC agents and independent observers from various Wards in the constituency established flagrant violations of the provision of the Electoral Act.

 

Culled from here

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