Leadership (Abuja)

12 July 2012

Nigeria: Edo 2012 - the Big Battle for the 'Heart Beat' State

Political parties in Edo are putting final touches to their strategies in winning the governorship election. LEADERSHIP's Patrick Ochoga, drew line between the chances of various candidates, their chances, aspiration and opportunities open to them towards winning Saturday election.

The political parties in Edo have entered the final lap of the race to become the next governor of Edo State. By July 14th 2012, the fate of the Action Congress for Nigeria (ACN), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and other parties in Edo will be decided.

Until then, Patrick Ochoga provides an analysis of the chances of each candidate, the obstacles they face and the possible influence of ethnicity on the voters' decision.

This Saturday, the die will be cast which will dictate the future of the people of Edo. The contest this year has so far shown that the gubernatorial election is far from the old days when elections were characterized by the orthodox Nigeria factor of electoral process manipulation cum rigging by producing an unpopular candidate against the choice of the people.

And as one analyst put it, "Edo state election is never on fire, rather by this election, the determination of the people on their choice for continuous development and state wide transformation will be met", observed Munir Babagida SulemanChok as a stakeholder.

Not far from the truth, the various candidates in the race are personalities of credible character in their various ventures.

These candidates beginning from the incumbent governor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, who is of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri, All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP), Elder Roland Izevbuwa of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and Labour Party's (LP) Mr Andrew Igwemoh.

Others: Comrade Imaguomwanrhuo Orunmwense of National Conscience Party(NCP) , Major General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Prince Frank Ukonga of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP) have all it takes mentally and administratively to take Edo state to the next level in line with its development pact.

From this vantage point, against every pre-empted scenario of chaos, many feared for the forthcoming election; however, one should not be left in the dark on the numerous efforts to provide electoral knowledge to the people.

This epitomized the essence of the series of lectures, seminars, awareness/orientation courses and workshops by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Barr Kassim Gaidam, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), who organized these events for the political parties, their members and the larger society.

What is more is the July 14 2012 election is for the Edo people and the Edo indigenes alone have all it takes without prejudice to decide through the ballot box, the individual and political party that presented a manifesto that has the provisions to competently address the challenges in the state.

Some concerned citizens of the state in the vanguard of Civil Society Organisations are calling for a fairer platform to be made available by the electoral institution for all involved to participate in the voting exercise with a satisfied conscience.

Managing Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, (ANEEJ) David Ugolor and Dr Philip Ugbodaga of the Coalition to Save Nigeria, (CSN) group.

The Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association, (NMA) including Mr Olu Martins of the Civil Society Alliance has been the leading voice towards this direction in Edo State.

They had independently undertaken a series of peaceful protests and election sensitization rallies with the people towards voter's awareness.

Then the big question is: how much have these candidates truly reflected on what is expected by the people when elected.

Prince Suleiman Kadiri, a staunch leader in support of Gov Adams Aliu Oshiomhole's re-election was flawless in his view, said that by the re-election of the incumbent governor, more is to be expected in terms of the ongoing infrastructural transformation in the state.

"You and I know the many infrastructural changes that the Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole and his Deputy, Rt Hon Pius Egberanmwen Odubu (who is the running-mate) have brought in upon inception in 2008. And if only the Edo people needs this tempo to be sustained, a vote for him is the wisest choice every Edo indigene should cherished", he said.

Also, an opinioned leader in Edo state, Mr Andrew Yanga, Chief Executive officer Simple Lotto and Pool Limited, who has decided to mobilize his resources to campaign for the re-election of the governor for a second term, described him as "a wonderful governor who created the wonderful policies, wonderful environment, wonderful security and wonderful governance, (good governance) by providing good roads, beautiful schools, water supply, electricity, massive employment and other wonderful development in the state stands out for him as a governor aim for victory at the next poll".

If this be the standing order, what about the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Elder Roland Izevbuwa or Chief Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri, (MON) of the ANPP?

"The ANPP is the answer", stated Eguaoje Imoukhuede Goodluck, State Publicity Secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) he added, "that by the credibility of our candidate, Chief Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri, (MON) a first breed product of Coalition of Progressive Political Parties, (CPPP) in Edo state, and his Deputy, Mr Felix Konomoore from Etsako East L.G.A precisely Agenebode, we have strategized that votes in that area will be splinted among the various candidates in Edo north, wherein our governorship candidate from Edo south has a vantage over the other that by calculation will ensure our victory".

Further, putting the dissolution of the Nigerian masses against the leading political party since this democratic dispensation, Comrade Ikonomwan Francis, Vice Chairman (South) and Special Adviser to Prince Tony Momoh, National Chairman of the CPC said, "Records are verifiable. And it is alarmingly shocking that from what previous governments have presented of governance, the people have no choice other than to make a decisive change.

"We took our time and effort to sort out our governorship candidate, Elder Roland Izevbuwa. He is a man of proven credibility; his credentials speak volume as a seasoned administration and one that will not compromise the truth", he said.

Usman Sarahaisu, a House of Representative candidate of the CPC at the last general election added his voice by saying with words like diamonds, the pride of Elder Roland Izevbuwa will make him a better governor if elected.

However, one salient point in this whole issue of who becomes Edo state governor, to succeed or in consolidation the mandate beyond July 14th, is on the dust so far raised along ethnic lines.

Ethnic politicking has become inflamed at this moment. The ethnic political dimension has been between sharing the powers among the three senatorial districts of the state, with major dominance in this election between Edo South and the Edo North district.

By INEC Figure, Edo South holds over 59% of the voters while the North and Central shares the balance percentage in succeeding order.

The North has the incumbent governor, Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole, who is of the Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), Etsako West, Labour Party (LP), Mr Andrew Igwemoh from Etsako East, and Prince Frank Ukonga of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP) from Akoko Edo LGA.

For the Edo South, the main opposition party candidate, Major General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere, rtd of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) Ovia North East LGA, Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri (MON) of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) Uhunmwonde LGA, Elder Roland Izevbuwa of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Ikpoba-Okha LGA and Comrade Imaguomwanrhuo Orunmwense of National Conscience Party (NCP) Ovia North East LGA.

Speaking on this, the Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Hon Christopher Adesotu was of the view that in politics, all things been equal, ethnical interests cannot be played down.

He said that democracy, a government by the majority can be fully reflected if the power is returned to the hands of those from Edo south.

While revealing that the governor and his kinsmen are rallying around ethnical divide politically in this forth coming election, the Edo South indigenes should be wise to rally with their own proud son, Major General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere, (rtd) of the PDP for his victory to come through.

Also, Owere Dickson Imasogie, the then PDP Edo South Chairman and one-time chairman of the Cocoa Produce Board at the federal level, pressed that it is time to remember home, "If by essence the Edo south people, the Binis need to be at the helm of government and thereby choose their own for concrete development of the people and the land".

"Our decision in the party is centred on the interest of the whole, give and take, where we have Gen. Charles as governor, equitable development is assured."

A leap from this, however, Hon Osarobo Idehen said, development should not be surpassed through ethnic agenda, noting that, Edo state being united under one historical course and from the same legacy, no matter who occupy the seat of government what should be the bottom line is the people's interest truly represented?

The Egor LGA chairman hopeful, in his campaign for Gov Adams Aliu Oshiomhole's re-election enjoined all those from Edo South not to be mileage in ethnic politics pointing out that Gov Oshiomhole has performed credibly for all to see and "the fact is that the bulk of the capital projects are sited in Edo south".

Hon Idehen advised that to vote Gov Oshiomhole is to vote progress. Same as he extended that when he is elected chairman of Egor council area, at the approaching L.G.A election, the people is sure to smile and fell the cool of a people's friendlier administrator.

"Oshiomhole is working, Edo is working", stated Mr Seweje Clement, a Lagos state based political analyst in his presentation, "The Edo Revolution, Oshiomhole at Work".

He posited, "In view of the forthcoming 2012 governorship election in Edo state, the people must decide where to cast their votes. The governor in such a small time has made this paradigm shift in the quality of life of the people in the state.

"In the close of 10 years rule of PDP and with the enormous resources at the disposal of their governors, no development was put on ground for the people to benefit.

It is therefore no gain-saying that Edo state people under the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole have given the people the dividends of democracy. Thus in the popular saying, the reward for hard work is more work, hence merit his re-election."

Going along with the party line, Hon Princess Imomosi Umolu, while holding views as a chieftain of the party, said, "As far as I am concerned, the forthcoming election is no election rather a referendum where the people's choice is to attest to the performance of this administration".

"Although we have candidates from other party, their campaigns do not reflect sincerity but a government they are wailing should retard progress in Edo state. But that is not the case with Oshiomhole government and when re-election, it will be on consolidation to enable the on-going massive infrastructural development to be completed", Princess Umolu affirmed.

Between choices

In the meantime, the PDP as the leading opposition has raised the alarmed that Gov Oshiomhole's ACN led administration is ruling the people on fraud.

Hon Raymond Enogieru, a core member of the PDP and candidate at the 2011 general election who contested with the incumbent Speaker, Rt Hon Uyi Igbe into the Edo state House of Assembly to represent Oredo West Constituency, claimed that Gov Oshiomhole has failed the Edo people in his inability to embraced institutional development in the projects he has embarked upon.

"These projects are not long last. They cannot stand the test of time in reinvigorating the society, because they are no legacy.

Painting and repainting of road and rehabilitation of existing roads have not been institutionalized to capture the yearnings and aspiration of the electorate as needed in a government", he said.

"Gov Oshiomhole has deceived the people and has grossly failed in this direction" noted, Hon (Barr) Oni Edigin, arguing that the desire of the PDP is for a free and fair election at the next poll, "The electorate have concluded to vote for Major General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere, (mni, rtd) without prejudice to his ethnic background but as a result of his determination to take development to meeting the needs of those from the top down to the grass-root level.

"PDP is not in any way planning to rig the election. To be concise with words and evidences aboard that the governor through one of those appointed in the government as Special Adviser is going round with the aim of training thugs.

Those recruited into the Neighbourhood Watch are also part of the game plan by the ACN to rig the election. The governor has armed a lot of youths with violence either through institutionalizing militancy or in the Rainbow coalition."

"if only INEC will worked to allow a free and fair election, PDP is readily on ground through our grassroots campaign will floor the ACN", noted Hon (Barr) Chris Agbonwanegbe.

From among the market women, artisans, within the Gov Oshiomhole cabinet, as investigation reveals many are genuinely working for the PDP irrespective of the fact that at daytime during political rallies and sensitive ACN meetings somehow some of the persons professed as foot soldiers of ACN are in close file with the PDP.

"Our candidate as I speak with you has all chances of winning. The public is aware of his sensitivity, creativity and education prowess", said a Charter Accountant from Owan-East LGA and State Organizing Secretary of the PDP, Chief Ehimigbai Richard.

"Major General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere, (mni, rtd) and his Deputy, Hon (Barr) Johnson Abolagba are individuals well exposed and with the wealth of experience they have the capability to delivered".

"The PDP which is rebranded is getting stronger by the day through her internal democracy which is evidently lacking in the A.C.N posing serious trouble within that party hence the numbers of decampees who has now closed ranked with the A.C.N to pitch net with our party with sincere aim to work alongside to see that governor Oshiomhole is defeated at the poll and the P.D.P wins", Chief Ehimigbai Richard said.

The State Woman Leader of PDP, Deaconess (Mrs) Eghe Sorae in her expressed view encouraged women left in other parties to explore allegorical wisdom to enter into the Noah's ark while the door is open with applauds of the good things and salvation waiting in the ark, illustrating that voting for the PDP is like being among those saved in the great flood.

However, in spite of all these exasperation and hopes of the political contenders, the fate of the masses choice is still dazzled evidently with fears from past and present experiences from those entrusted to lead the state.

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