Nigeria: Edo Governorship Election - Winners and Losers

24 September 2020
opinion

The biggest winners of the election are the Edo people. They demonstrated their resolve to have a free and credible election. And that was what they had. This they were able to achieve by their eternal vigilance throughout the electoral process. We saw pictures and videos of ordinary citizens confronting those who wanted to subvert the will of the people.

Mercifully, the governorship election in Edo State has come and gone and it wasn't a "do or die" affair. Though a few persons died from clashes and several others were injured, we can confidently say that there is a positive narrative to the election. It is obvious to all and sundry that the will of the people prevailed. And that is the essence of democracy. You may not like the choice of the people; but you should respect their choice.

Winners

The Electorate

The biggest winners of the election are the Edo people. They demonstrated their resolve to have a free and credible election. And that was what they had. This they were able to achieve by their eternal vigilance throughout the electoral process. We saw pictures and videos of ordinary citizens confronting those who wanted to subvert the will of the people. There was little or no room for shenanigans. It didn't matter whether it was in the urban centres or the villages. The mood was the same. What this tells us is that the dream of having credible elections in this country is the duty of all of us. People should not sit in their living rooms with their phones accessing social media and expect miracles to happen. We have to be on ground and get involved.

Security Agencies

The security agencies also played a laudable role during the election. We did not hear or see the Police or other security agencies being partisan during the election. And their interaction with the populace was quite civil. This must be commended. We have witnessed how those in power have misused the Police and soldiers to do their dirty work in this country. Many of us still remember what happened in Ekiti State in 2014. We also remember how they tried to subvert the people's will in Rivers State during the 2019 elections. We must thank our security agencies for their neutrality in the Edo State governorship election. We pray that they continue to exhibit this patriotic disposition in future elections. The Ondo State governorship election coming up in October will provide another good opportunity to continue with this enviable tradition.

Easily the biggest loser is Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the former governor of the State. He made the election a referendum on his handling of the differences between him and the governor. The arbitrariness and arrogance with which he went about trying to dismantle the political fortunes of Governor Obaseki did not go down with a majority of the people of Edo State.

INEC

Also worthy of commendation is the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC). During the election, they were able to strengthen their brand as an unbiased umpire. This is the least expected of them. But we cannot take it for granted. We commend their neutrality. We were in this country in 2003 and 2007 and we witnessed what the electoral body was corralled into doing during the Obasanjo administration. INEC performed so badly that even the courts were at pains in validating some of the electoral outcomes. The electoral malfeasance of that period was so great that it made the stealing of elections in Ondo State in 1983 and the electoral robbery that took place in the Western Region in 1965, which led to the operation "wetie", look like angelic enterprises.

Governor Obaseki

Governor Godwin Obaseki was able to demonstrate during this election season that he is a man. Not some lily-livered people who run away at the slightest threat. He confronted a so-called godfather and put him in his place. Even the collaborators of the godfather were put to shame. The lesson here is that people should learn to stand by their convictions. You may not win all the battles but you will etch your name in the history books.

Losers

Adams Oshiomhole

Easily the biggest loser is Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the former governor of the State. He made the election a referendum on his handling of the differences between him and the governor. The arbitrariness and arrogance with which he went about trying to dismantle the political fortunes of Governor Obaseki did not go down with a majority of the people of Edo State. His agenda was firmly rebuffed during the election. One of the few lessons he can learn from this is that nobody is God, except God Himself. When you try to play God, the owner of the universe will put you in your place at His own time.

Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu may have lost the election. But it was really about him. He was a typical Nigerian politician who crossed effortlessly from one party to the other, like Governor Obaseki. Both men were only interested in power. Although he didn't realise his dream this time around, don't be surprised if he navigates his way back to the PDP.

Bola Tinubu

His presidential ambition is the worst kept secret in Nigeria's political landscape. I am not sure anybody will begrudge Asiwaju Bola Tinubu the right to aspire to rule the country. But he must have now realised by now that going into partnership with a failed chairman of his political party is not the right way to go. He didn't matter help matters by making an unsolicited broadcast to the people of Edo State on the eve of the election. The question people were asking was: In what capacity did he make that broadcast? He obviously stretched his luck too far.

The APC

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has demonstrated over the past five years that it is a poor manager of success. Which is not really surprising since it is an agglomeration of strange bedfellows. They have no ideological affinity, except the love for power. Even maintaining their hold on power has become a herculean task. It is the poor management of the party's affairs that led them to lose Zamfara State, after winning the elections there last year. It was also for the same reason they couldn't field candidates for the 2019 gubernatorial election in River State. Lack of due diligence caused them to lose the governorship in Bayelsa, after winning the election earlier this year. It does not require a soothsayer to see that party may perform very poorly in the next general elections if doesn't put its house in order.

Ize-Iyamu

Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu may have lost the election. But it was really about him. He was a typical Nigerian politician who crossed effortlessly from one party to the other, like Governor Obaseki. Both men were only interested in power. Although he didn't realise his dream this time around, don't be surprised if he navigates his way back to the PDP. He was simply a pawn in the Oshiomhole-Obaseki chess game. As an adult, he should not allow himself to be used by other political gladiators.

Fred Ohwahwa, a former editor of The Guardian on Sunday, is a public policy analyst.

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