The Edo Project, as envisioned by Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki in 2015, is intact, healthy and on course! Thank God for the judgment delivered by the Appeal Court, sitting in Benin City, on Friday, June 9, 2017, re-affirming the election of Mr. Godwin Obaseki as Edo State Governor. And thank God for the life of the erudite Judges who delivered the detailed and thoroughly researched judgment at the Court of the first instance, the Tribunal. The PDP and Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu had, with the fortitude of roughnecked gamblers, filed an Appeal against the judgment of Edo Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which on February 14, 2017, upheld INEC declaration of Mr. Godwin Obaseki as the winner of the September 28, 2016, gubernatorial election.
Indeed, the Obaseki political ascendancy has been a story of unpunctuated chain of victories beginning with the keenly contested primaries of the party. This was closely followed by the sweet victory of the general election which the opposition bitterly fought with an unprecedented propaganda machine that sought to denigrate the dignifying historical memoirs of his ancestry. Ironically, the election which the PDP have sought to discredit without success has been adjudged the most peaceful election in Southern Nigeria under the present dispensation. As the opposition proceeds to the Supreme Court to continue their search for a needle in the haystacks, the most devastating blow ever, awaits their judicial misadventure. There is a popular axiom in Edo worldview that ‘if you turn around a thousand times, the position of your buttocks will not shift to the front’. In plain terms, it means, the truth never changes. It is same everywhere!
These victories have been like tonic and humongous relief to the people prompting them to roll out drums and maracas in celebration every time. The people have enthusiastically embraced the change in the governance philosophy of Mr. Godwin Obaseki. Mr. Obaseki’s technical approach to governance is blind to sentiments and emotions. It takes all issues head-on as dictated by law, rules, regulations and the highest interest of the majority of Edo citizens. This has not been seen hitherto. And single-mindedly, he seeks to restore sanity and enlist the collaboration of major stakeholders with a view to achieving the vision of an Edo State that is economically viable and attractive for investment in the real sectors of the economy. With good fortunes smiling daily on Obaseki, it is unmistakable that God has lowered his holy hands to deliver uncommon favors on him and Edo State at this time. This fact is not lost to those with authentic divine attributions! It was vividly captured when Omo N’ Oba, N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, The Oba Of Benin, paid a thank you visit to Government House on January 24, 2017. On that occasion, His Majesty stated as follows: ‘ I assure you that you have the full support of our ancestors to be where you are’. He added ‘ Feel comfortable in the office and focus on your plan to turn Edo State economy around’. The Oba hears and sees far beyond ordinary mortals and when he speaks, it is on behalf of the Edos, his ancestors and the two hundred and one deities of Edoland!
Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu, the PDP candidate in the last guber election is the main petitioner. In one of my recent articles, I did state that Pastor Ize-Iyamu and I had political interactions in the past. On the strength of that interaction and with characteristic candour, I make bold to state that he eminently deserves to be credited with great organisational capacity and competence.
For not less than a decade, the seemingly calm and innocuous looking Pastor, invested on raising and maintaining a formidable political structure at monumental cost to facilitate the achievement of future gubernatorial glory. It is a statement of fact to state that politicians with that kind of foresight are uncommon. He is thus idolised by many of his disciples! Not so assuredly, he seems to believe and rightly so, that a single defeat has no power of finality. However, the correctness of that idea must be predicated on the capacity to concede defeat with stoical humility without losing heart. First, he must accept the honest defeat handed down on September 28, 2016, and then seek to convert his electoral mistake into a portal for future success. With visceral recollections, a postmortem of the election shows that Pastor Ize -Iyamu actually lost the election to self- sabotage occasioned by uncharacteristic slip of the tongue at the most critical stage of the campaign. Edo voters including some of his supporters made up their minds finally, to vote for Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki as soon he declared that when he becomes Governor, state resources will be committed to the annual birthday celebration of a wealthy private citizen, and they never looked back thereafter. That one miscalculation and that one moment of distraction triggered series of fatal and devastating reactions!
The 2016 gubernatorial election campaigns had its fair share of raucousness and inflamed feelings of hatred created majorly by implacable surrogates. When political gladiators see the electoral process from the old prism of an unbridled struggle for the resources of the people, there is often a tendency to resort to the trenches and warfare. Thus, weeks before the election, there were rumors and speculations that politicians were importing hoodlums and thugs from neighboring states into Edo state to cause mayhem. Security reports made public at the time confirmed some of the rumors thus creating a potentially combustible environment. But the APC-led government in the state worked hard with the security agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that the right environment for a peaceful and credible election to take place was created.
September 28, 2016, gubernatorial election has gone down in history as one of the most peaceful in recent times as no single gunshot was fired throughout the State. The APC led government eminently deserves commendation for the role it played to ensure peace and tranquility during the election.
*Mr. Osakue, a political analyst, wrote from Benin City, Edo State.