Lessons from Edo State Governorship Election

Edo State governorship election has come and gone. Candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Godwin Obaseki won the election handily. His only main opponent with real chance of winning the election is the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The question that must be asked is why did the present governor’s handpicked successor won the election despite terrible economic situation Edo state and Nigeria finds itself in. Edo state government under the current governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole are not paying salaries of public employee on time. Investment in capital expenditures have slowed down. The present governor is not from the largest ethnic or religious group in Edo state. He was born muslim in a state where majority of the population are Christians even though he later converted to Christianity.

The answer for the election of Mr. Obaseki, handpicked by the current governor may have to do with the ongoing achievements of the current governor compared to his predecessors. After civilian rule was restored by the military in 1999, Mr. Lucky Igbinedion of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was elected governor of the state, and he was in office from May 29, 1999 to May 28, 2007. Mr. Igbinedion did not have much to show in terms of achievements after 8 years in office. He was arrested after his tenure and tried for looting Edo State treasury. He was later acquitted under a mysterious circumstance and ordered to pay a small fine by the judge which was appalling. Mr. Igbinedion was later swindled by Venezuelan’s criminals who promised him very high returns from over 3-billion-naira investment that never took place and never materialized. So his 8- year tenure was a waste of Edo state’s resources and time.

When his term ended, Mr. Igbinedion’s party, PDP rigged his handpicked successor, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor into office. Then Action Congress candidate, Mr. Oshiomhole which later merged with another party and changed their name to APC) went to court and regained his mandate so Mr. Osunbor only held office from May 29, 2007 to November 12, 2008 when the court judgement invalidated his election. However, Mr. Osunbor during his brief time in power was no different from his predecessor.

The election of Mr. Oshiomhole’s handpicked successor is a lesson for all Nigerian politician’s and parties that the only way to win election and keep power is to do a good job while in office. The residents of each states and the nation knows who is doing a good job and who is not. Edo state situation is similar to Anambra state where PDP mismanaged the state for the first 4 years of civilian government which ran from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003 under governor Mbadunuju of PDP before Governor Ngige of PDP rescued the state from the hands of the PDP treasury looters and godfathers. Anambra state’s residents was so traumatized by PDP government that they have been electing All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidates as governors to date. APGA candidates have been elected and reelected not because APGA is a party formed by the Igbos, but because APGA have recorded enormous achievements while in power thus the residents of the state do not see ANY need to change party.

The bigger lesson from Edo state election is that PDP cannot assume that the bad economic situation facing Nigeria today will translate into victory at the state and federal level. They would have been winning all the by-elections if that is the case. PDP in the states and National level need to embark on a fundament reform of their party by moving away from corrupt politicians, embezzlement and looting of public fund which is what Nigerians associates PDP with today. Unfortunately for PDP, their leaders are living in fantasy. Their instinct as we speak is to find a way to rally around Mr. Patience Jonathan whose $15 million and another $41 million bank accounts was recently discovered at Sky bank. Various PDP ex-officials are facing trial for looting and embezzlement of public fund around the country. Nigerians knows that while their economic situation has deteriorated over the past year, they know that PDP is not the answer to their problem. PDP will continue to wander in the wilderness at the state and federal level until they take decisive action to reform their party. If PDP do not reform, their party will gradually die. Period. Strong opposition party is needed in Nigeria but there is nothing anybody can do for any group or association who refuses to help themselves.

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