Count down to September 19 Edo polls! With increasing slide into mutually assured political conquest (as distinct from political contest) between the PDP’s incumbent candidate, Godwin Obaseki and APC’s Pastor Ize Iyamu, no political observer pretends about the possibility of a political renaissance again in the “Heart beat of the Nation”.
Political Renaissance defined here as issue based campaigns, debates, comradeship, and peaceful rallies. In February, Professor Yakubu Mahmood, Chairman of INEC, announced that the Edo governorship election would be held on September 19 while Ondo governorship poll would be on October 10 this year. Given the dramatised crisis which engulfed the then ruling APC, yours sincerely observed that “the Edo governorship poll raises more political anxiety as much as the last presidential elections”(“ Edo: Politicide or Political Renaissance? Daily Trust Feb 10, 2020 ).
Of course, in February, there was still a considerable room for a reconciliation between the two star actors in APC crisis, namely Comrade Adams Oshihomole and Godwin Obaseki. There was even a possibility of a political renaissance, political reconciliation and political continuity which would consolidate on the achievements of the last 12 years. Alas, proverbial waters of distrust and disunity had since overflown the political bridges within the APC and between the PDP and APC, with “justifiable reasons” by the two parties. The details are devilish for a mouth full: Adams Oshimhole, as the then National chairman of APC, was suspended with an Appeal Court, affirming the suspension.
Governor Godwin Obaseki has also since dumped All Progressives Congress for PDP which in turn had rewarded him with a governorship ticket. Obaseki was disqualified from contesting the party’s governorship primary election in June 22. President Buhari has since announced the dissolution of the National Working Committee of the party which in turn terminated the tenure of Adams Oshimhole as the chairman of the ruling party. The party NEC appointed the Yobe State Governor, Mai Malla Buni, as the Chairman, Caretaker /Convention Committee. He is the former Secretary of the APC. Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu had since emerged as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the September 19, Edo Governorship Election.
The 2014 national conference deliberated on how “Carpet-Crossing (quitting a party on which platform an elected officer was elected to join another) is a major propellant of instability in the political system.” But the delegates would not have imagined the current political obscenity in Edo in which the APC candidate in 2016 election is now the PDP candidate in 2020, and conversely, the PDP candidate in 2016 is now the APC candidate! The two parties are deep in war of attrition to reclaim what they hitherto had on their laps, no thanks to lack of compromises and reconciliation.
With two speakers claiming leadership of a shut down House of Assembly, Edo has run a full cycle of politicide. Edo State which once witnessed a renaissance that defeated the old pessimism according to which nothing would work as long as political god-fatherism called the shots, has taken a deep plunge into bagful of accusations and counter accusations over resurgence of godfatherism.
Apparently, Comrade Adams is permanently hunted by unsavory remarks about Pastor Ize Iyamu which, as political irony had it, turned to be the flag bearer of the APC today. The litmus/ acid tests for the 4th Republic democracy are the forthcoming Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections. Last Thursday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) threatened to suspend the Edo and Ondo governorship elections if the actions of political actors led to a breakdown of law and order in the two states. The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, gave the warning. It was the same Thursday the Edo State House of Assembly was shut after lawmakers loyal to the two major protagonists in the September 19 governorship election in the state clashed at the assembly complex.
United States has also expressed concerns ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states respectively. The US was more “bothered with the deteriorating political climate in Edo.” US also expressed disappointment with the role played by some political actors in the state. The point cannot be overstated that all the political actors must maintain the best of democratic practices so as to complement the efforts of INEC in conducting free and fair elections. With the spike in COVID:19 and fatality rates, political violence pandemic will be one crisis too many for Edo people. It’s still not late for the EDO campaign to be issue based and be depersonalised. The responsibility of peaceful and free election in EDO depends on the statesmanship of both the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The sound bites from EDO are not encouraging. In fact, the language of campaign is too dangerously personalised and unhelpful too. Democracy is about being measured, being serious so that we can be serious again. No politician is absolutely bad or absolutely good but good governance is indivisible and desirable. And that is what we must work for.