by Isi Esene
There is a massive deployment of armed men in the streets of Edo State in preparation for the governorship poll which takes place today. The military men are stationed in strategic locations in Benin, the state capital, Ekpoma, Uromi, Auchi, and other towns.
In Benin, the soldiers, who mounted checkpoints on some streets, conducted stop and search on vehicles, while passers-by were subjected to bodily search.
Over 200 soldiers were stationed at the Akpakpava Street where the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) office is located. This decision is obvious because the INEC electoral materials are stored there for safe-keeping before deployment to all parts of the states today for the voting exercise proper.
Today’s election promises to be a keenly contested one with observers tagging the incumbent governor, Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Charles Airhiavbere of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Solomon Edebiri of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) as the main candidates for the election.
Others, however, see the contest as between the new and the old brigade; the new being personified by Oshiomhole, and the old by Tony Anenih, the self-proclaimed ‘PDP Mr. Fix It’. Losing is however not an option for Anenih who knows that this will spell doom for the aura of political invincibility which he has demonstrated in the state over the years almost single-handedly handpicking some Edo State governors in the past.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told Nigerians that everything has been put in place for the smooth conduct of the election. Election materials had been moved, yesterday, to all local government areas of the state, the resident electoral commissioner (REC) from Ondo State, Akin Orebiyi, confirmed this much.
To underscore the Commission’s seriousness, eight national commissioners and ten residents electoral commissioners (RECs) have been deployed to the state for the election and one each would be at the 18 local governments.
However, tension remained high in most parts of the state, yesterday, with soldiers and policemen deployed in strategic places.
The show of force and the stop and search might be connected in response to the alleged circulation of fake voter cards, counterfeit INEC identity cards, as well as riot police uniforms.
It appears all is now set for the mother of all political battles in Edo State.