In what was obviously a no-contest, incumbent Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, was yesterday affirmed as the candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming September gubernatorial elections. Obaseki polled 1,952 votes after the three other aspirants stepped down and endorsed him. The indirect primaries saw a total of 2,092 delegates casting their votes in the primary election; of which 70 votes were voided with total valid votes cast put at 2,022 votes.
In what will be a very much anticipated re-match of the 2016 governorship election, Obaseki will face-off against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who emerged the governorship candidate of the Edo All Progressives Congress (APC), after polling 27,838 votes to beat two other aspirants in a rain-soaked direct primaries. The other two aspirants, Pius Odubu and Osaro Obazee came second and third with 3,776 votes and 2,324 votes respectively. Just like in the PDP, Odubu and Obazee had earlier stepped down for Ize-Iyamu, but their names remained on the ballot papers. Ironically in 2016, it was Ize-Iyamu who defected from the APC to the PDP under whose platform he contested and lost the election against Obaseki, then of the APC.
Speaking shortly after he was declared winner of the primary election and subsequently candidate of the APC, Ize-Iyamu, gave glory to God for making the exercise possible devoid of any incident of violence in the 192 wards. According Ize-Iyamu, his victory was the harbinger of peace and reconciliation in the Edo state chapter of the APC.
He saluted his opponent, Governor Obaseki and appealed to him to return to the APC, saying he (Ize-Iyamu) made the same mistake before, adding that in APC, Obaseki is recognized as a leader, but in the PDP, he would not be recognized as a leader. The APC candidate sued for peaceful electoral campaigns, in the general elections, saying he would stick to the issues instead of personalities. His words: “Let’s speak on issues rather than personalities; let’s do it in a manner that will not jeopardize the lives of our people. This is the time to unite all the members of the APC. Sometime ago somebody asked me a question when the problem of APC will end and I told them that every problem has an expiry date. And in my humble opinion the day we complete our primaries that day the problem will end. So, I believe that by this process which we have just completed, the party is now on the path of full recovery.
“We are going to talk to everybody; we are going to bring everybody back. And let me also say that I want to salute my brother the governor of the state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; I will like to appeal to him to return to the party. In every family we have disagreement, let it not be said that this disagreement pushed him out. I have made that mistake before and I have come to realize that it was a grievous error and I don’t want him as a senior brother to make the same mistake. I appeal to him to set aside his anger and come back. In APC he is recognized as a leader but in a new party he is going to it will be difficult to accept you as a leader. So, it will be nice for him to come back but certainly I will work with him and all well-meaning Edo people.”
But Obaseki joined the PDP with a declaration that he would lead the party to victory in the September 19 governorship election, saying the energy in the PDP was the kind he needed to take Edo to the next level. “The PDP in my view has demonstrated and shown that it is a party that is rooted in democratic practices. The party that believes in justice and fairness; a party that respects its people... I know and understand fully-well the implications of joining the PDP. I know that upon taking up membership of this party I automatically become the leader of the party in the state. That is the constitution.
“I read it thoroughly last night and I want to assure all of you that I am prepared to provide leadership. I am prepared to provide leadership that will lead this party to victory and I am prepared to provide leadership that will not only put PDP in office in Edo State but as the ruling party in Edo state. We will make sure that the level of progress, the level of hope and the level of participation in the political system by our party is unrivalled in this country. I am very happy to be here. The reception I have received since I drove in here has been ecstatic. The energy I see in this party is the kind of energy I require to take Edo to the level… With the quality of people I see here, the energy of the youths I see, by the grace of God, victory will be possible. I am committing to you that I will not only lead this party to victory in Edo state, but we will now make sure that this party establishes an example of how states will be run in Africa.”