Edo is the home state of the National Chairman of the APC, Com. Adams Oshiomhole, and analysts believe the presidential election will be like a referendum for him to test his popularity.
Since the current democratic dispensation began in 1999, the PDP had always won the presidential election in Edo State.
Presently, the APC is the ruling party in the state, but the PDP, which is the main opposition party, is also popular, just like in most of the five remaining states in the South South.
Of all the over 70 political parties fielding presidential candidates, only the APC and the PDP are popular parties in the state; hence the contest is between the President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP.
Interestingly, an indigene of the state, David Ize-Iyamu, is contesting the presidential election on the platform of the Better Nigeria Peoples Party (BNPP). However, Ize-Iyamu and his party are barely visible in Edo State.
During the 2015 presidential election, the APC scored 208,469 votes while the PDP scored PDP 286,869, leading the APC with 78,400 votes.
According to Daily Trust findings, economy, social investment programmes of the APC government such as Tradermoni, Monimarket and N-Power, state of federal roads and the fight against corruption are some of the factors that may influence voting pattern during the presidential election.
The PDP is very strong in Edo Central Senatorial, while Edo North is the strong hold of the APC, being the zone of Oshiomhole.
While the PDP and APC are both sure of victory in their comfort zones, Edo South will decide who wins the presidential election.
A political watcher in the state, John Osas, said it might be difficult to say which party would win the presidential election in the state although PDP had been winning presidential elections in the state.
“If you look at the campaign rallies of both parties, it is difficult to determine who will win,” he said.
“PDP has been winning the presidential elections, but if the recent APC rally is anything to go by, the election will this time around be very tough.
Another pundit, Ayokha Dada, said the Federal Government had not done much in the state and that because of APC’s economic policy, people were suffering, hence they might likely revolt against the president.
“I don’t see APC winning the presidential election in Edo State, and the margin of the defeat will be more this time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, said there was no doubt that their party would win the presidential election in the state.
Nehikhare said the indices on ground showed clearly that the PDP would win the election the same way it had been happening for nearly two decades.
“Aside the hunger and bad economy in the land, the APC has not done any project in Edo and the people are angry with them. So, there is no better time to show anger than now on the way they have been treated by the APC,” he said.
The PDP has two senators out of three and four members of the House of Representatives out of nine and analysts believe that all of them will work towards the success of Atiku, especially considering that the presidential and National Assembly elections would be held same day.
On his part, the APC Publicity Secretary, Chris Azebameh, said their party had delivered on its promises substantially through reviving of infrastructure across the country.
“We are constructing roads abandoned by the PDP, reviving the economy by bringing back the rail system and social intervention for the poorest of the poor; all this will count in our favour,” he said.
He said the party, through its fight against corruption, had raised the image of Nigeria in the international community, adding that it had been able to deal with the major problem confronting the country.
“Nigerians have done integrity test on the candidates and Buhari’s integrity outweighs that of other candidates: that will speak for the APC in Edo State to win the presidential election,” he said.
Analysts also believe that despite the rhetoric by party leaders, it is only when the electorate agree to come and vote that the election will be exciting.
Wilfred Ifowga, who is the Voter Education Officer of INEC in Edo State, said as at January 31, 2019, the total number of registered voters stood at 2,219,778.
He said out of 2,219,778 PVCs, 1,687,159 had been collected while 522,619 were still in the custody of INEC.
However, one thing that is clear is that Oshiomhole is going extra miles, pushing for the success of the party. And the fact that Gov. Obaseki is also of the APC, there are indications that the contest will be fierce.
Gov. Obaseki who is in his first term, will surely be interested in APC winning the presidential election, a development that will put him on solid base while approaching the electorate for their votes much later, considering that there will be no gubernatorial election in Edo on March 2, 2019.