*Democracy will mean nothing if peoples’ votes don’t count- Buhari
*It’s bye-bye to Oshiomhol; ’No sweeter victory– Atiku
*Edo APC rejects election results, ask supporters to remain calm
Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Godwin Obaseki was yesterday declared winner of the Edo governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Obaseki scored 307,955 votes while his major opponent, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) came second with 223,619 in an exercise which recorded 557,443 registered voters.
After collating results of the 18 local government areas in the state, INEC announced Obaseki winner. INEC’s Returning Officer, Prof. Akpofure Rim-Rukeh, announced the total result of the election.
Rim-Rukeh, while declaring Obaseki winner, said the incumbent governor was returned elected after satisfying all requirements in line with the law.
With the outcome of the poll, Obaseki has won his closest rival with a difference of 84,336 votes.
Obaseki of the PDP ran against APC standard-bearer Ize-Iyamu and 13 others and won in 13 local government areas while Ize-Iyamu won in five local government areas.
The results were announced by Prof. Akpofure Rem-Rukeh, Vice-Chancellor, University of Petroleum Resources, Effuru, Delta state.
Obaseki, who defeated Ize-Iyamu in 2016 with the support of former governor, Adams Oshiomhole, repeated the same feat this time around without his former goffather’s support, in what has been described as a grudge battle for supremacy between a former godfather and his estranged godson.
The godson, Obaseki, had vowed to retire his godfather, Oshiomhole, after having been instrumental to the dissolution of the National Working Committee over which Oshiomhole presided.
Forces in Edo and outside the state had coalesced to vote against the candidate of the APC because of the determination to dethrone Oshiomhole whom they had de-marketed as a burgeoning godfather.
Obaseki is a beneficiary of a groundswell of opposition against the Oshiomhole political foothold in Edo State.
Meanwhile, facts emerged yesterday on why the APC lost the state governorship election to PDP.
This is coming as President Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar hailed the conduct of the governorship election which they described as landmark achievement in Nigeria’s electoral process.
It will be recalled that Obaseki was elected on APC’s platform in 2016 but defected to the PDP after being denied the ticket owing to intra-party squabbles.
The news of Obaseki’s victory at the polls got supporters of the PDP jubilating in PDP strongholds in Edo Central, Edo North and Edo South Senatorial districts.
However, compared with the level of violence and irregularities that took place during last year’s governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the Edo election unarguably recorded some improvement.
The election campaign was marked by allegations and counter allegations of violence and threats to public order, leading to a situation where the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II had to call both parties to a peace parley which opened the gateway to several other peace agreements before the election.
Findings by Nigerian Pilot reveal that the failure of APC in the Edo poll can be linked to the failure of the ruling party at the federal level.
In addition to being beaten in an election that was stiff and keenly contested, the outcome of the election was highly celebrated across the state, showing peoples’ disdain for the ruling party.
The PDP had governed Edo State uninterrupted between 1999 and 2013 when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole took over as Labour Party candidate.
He later decamped to Action Congress, AC and then APC. When he decamped to APC, Oshiomhole succeeded in building APC up as a solid party, using a good number of pillars that were in PDP, thus depleting the fortunes of the PDP in the state.
But early this year, power changed hands when Godwin Obaseki was denied the ticket to re-contest on the platform of APC by a committee set up by Adams Oshiomhole-led APC’s National Working Committee, NWC.
The action of the APC forced Obaseki to decamp to the PDP and made the party to gain added momentum in recent time.
There were also complaints of “over confidence” among the APC leaders, a plausible claim given the APC’s strong showing in multiple state elections over the last few years.
More importantly, the party’s decision to play into the hands of powerful forces in the South-South geo-political zone that was waiting for Obaseki to make up his mind so that their fortunes in 2023 can be boosted, also contributed to Ize-Iyamu’s failure.
The APC underestimated the anti-federal might factor and how Nigerians have come to see that the party was unable to deliver since President Muhammad Buhari ascended office in 2015.
The APC has come to be seen as an uninspiring party that failed to make a good enough case for re-election at the federal and state levels in Nigeria.
Since it replaced President Goodluck Jonathan, the APC has not been able to demonstrate that it has the capacity to make good its promises.
For example, in 2015, President Muhammad Buhari promised to establish a number of refineries; fight corruption and insecurity, and provide electricity, but till date, it has also not delivered on her goal of creating 1.5 million new jobs.
Instead, President Buhari’s government has come to be known for high fuel prices, youth unemployment, insecurity, lack of funds for small businesses and most importantly, the rising cost of foodstuff.
For instance, the APC suffered heavy losses in rural constituencies in Edo State as compared to urban ones, and this may be due to the fact that it didn’t cater to a crucial voter bloc with programmes aimed at showing how federal government ban on importation of rice has boosted local production.
Some factors have dominated public conversation in Edo State all through the campaign period. It has to do with Governor Obaseki’s readiness and ability to pay workers’ salary and pensioners.
Under Oshiomhole who happened to be Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s campaign manager, this wasn’t so. Workers were left several months without pay, often leading to prolonged strikes.
Oshiomhole’s decision to align with Ize-Iyamu sent signals that the era of non-payment of salary was around the corner and of course the workforce teamed up with the sitting governor who has a good record of paying salaries on time even if he has to borrow.
According to Dr. Steve Obaro, “It was like a protest vote against Oshiomhole. If he had allowed the process to go on, APC would have been able to have its way but his interference and what he said about Ize-Iyamu in 2016, the people simply proved that they were no fools. That Edo people are strong.
“In addition, Governor Obaseki succeeded in making lasting impact on road infrastructure which helped to boost movement in rural areas. He made his package for farmers a key part of its election proposals. In addition to promising construction of more roads and bridges, he introduced an agricultural credit scheme which is helping farmers in the state.”
Reacting to the outcome of the election, President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated Governor Obaseki. He also hailed the INEC for the smooth process that led to the emergence of Obaseki.
In a statement, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said: “President Buhari has commended the election process in Edo State which led to the victory of @GovernorObaseki as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
He added, “I have consistently advocated for free and fair elections in the country because it is the bedrock of true democratic order. Democracy will mean nothing if the votes of the people don’t count or if their mandate is fraudulently tampered with” and “commended the people of Edo State, the parties, candidates and security agencies for conducting themselves responsibly.”
In his reaction, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar said an end of god-fatherism has come in Nigeria.
According to him, “there is a new dawn in Edo State, and the hard won victory of Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki is not just a victory, but a declaration of independence from the anti-democratic forces of godfatherism and militarism.
“No victory could be sweeter than this, and I heartily congratulate the Governor, and the good people of Edo state for their resilience in the face of the forces arrayed against them.
“Edo has a rich history as the centre of Black civilisation, and to this, she is adding a new history as the bastion of Nigerian democracy. This double whammy of ancient and modern glories is a testament to a people who have for centuries set the pace as a beacon of light on the African continent.
“I most heartily congratulate the Peoples Democratic Party, who stood shoulder to shoulder, with the people of Edo and their Government, in good times and bad. We, in the PDP, have shown that we are not fair weather friends to the good people of Edo,” Atiku stated.
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC has rejected the results of the governorship election, which gave victory to Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The party cited strong-arm tactics for the rejection.
It declared that there was foul play during the election, insisting the results were skewed in favour of Obaseki.
It however called on members and all lovers of democracy to stay calm, while leaders of the party would study the results and decide on the next line of action.
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