Against general opinion, or at-least that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Godwin Obaseki has been announced winner of the keenly contested Edo guber elections after beating Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu with a margin of 66,310 votes.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Obaseki also won majority votes in 13 of the 18 local governments in the state, losing the remaining five to the PDP candidate.
The INEC chief returning officer in the state, Professor Kayode Soremekun, who announced the final results, then went ahead to declare Obaseki the governor-elect of the South-South state.
Political pundits had written off the Oshiomhole-led APC onslaught in Edo as a struggle a the tide saying the Lagos-style continuity he was trying to establish can never work in Edo state – not when the likes of the Iginedion family, Tony Anenih and more are there to stop him in his tracks. Edo is no Lagos they say. The narrative was that the people of the state are tired of the APC-government and are looking for a change of their own. The overriding sentiment against President Muhammadu Buhari-government was also expected to impact negatively on the voting pattern of the electorate.
But things unravelled quickly. As soon as the election started, it was apparent that Governor Adams Oshiomhole was not planning on letting go the reins of power that easy. He held down his Edo North political base like a vice leaving Edo South (which of-course everyone rightly considered the battleground area) as the determinant of the election outcome.
Edo Central maintained shifted not, it stoically maintained its tradition of voting PDP. With 13 local governments in the kitty, it was a no-brainer that the APC majority will carry the day.
This analysis would have completely explained the voting dynamics if not for the fluid nature of Nigerian politics where financial might of candidates is as important as the political leaning of voting blocs. Where stomach infrastructure is a major influencer of voting patterns in many states, and Edo is not an exception. Allegations of results manipulation, bribery, money for votes, and barefaced inducement has been bandied around by the opposition and this should not be ignored.
Hours before voting closed, Pastor Ize-Iyamu and his party had publicly denounced the results being announced by INEC essentially calling it a fraud.
“The delays in announcing official result by INEC was in order to announce predetermined fabricated results,” Ize-Iyamu said. “The Figures being announced by INEC do not represent the massive turnout. We have told our agents to bring all the results issued at the polling units. We do not want to rely on the messages they sent.
“From findings, it is clear a lot of manipulation has taken place,” he concluded.
This is hardly a strange accusation in Nigerian politics where rejecting the outcome of an election is the rule rather than the exception. If the PDP holds legitimate grievances against the election with evidence of malpractice to boot then this is the time to head to court and substantiate its claims. It is a duty it owes all its supporters. It is a duty that it must follow to a logical conclusion.
But in the meantime, it’s congratulations to the people of Edo state.