DARK clouds are already gathering over the impending governorship election in Edo State. Some unfortunate individuals might pay with their lives, property and safety just for someone to be elected next governor of the State come September 19, 2020, unless proactive steps are taken by all stakeholders.
A foretaste of the ugly scenes ahead was enacted on July 25, 2020 when thugs loyal to the governor’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and those of their rivals, the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, clashed at the precincts of the Oba of Benin’s palace, leading to injuries and destruction of vehicles. Governor Godwin Obaseki had just paid a courtesy call on the Benin monarch before flagging off his campaign.
The war of nerves between Governor Obaseki and his erstwhile political mentor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has overshadowed the electoral campaigns, leading to the desecration of the State House of Assembly. Both were of the APC until their disagreement eventually pushed Obaseki out of the party. He went to the PDP where he secured a ticket to run for his second term.
Our fears are based on the chaos and violence that have befallen the state for almost three years since Obaseki and Oshomhole fell out. Even while they were still members of the same party, they refused to shift grounds to accommodate each other’s interests.
Now facing each other from the opposite sides of a drawn battle line, violence is the only thing to expect, especially as no one is ever brought to justice for taking lives during elections in Nigeria. The ongoing sabre-rattling was recently underscored by a former Minister of Information and renowned journalist, Mr. Tony Momoh, who said that his party, the APC, was determined to counter Obaseki’s power of incumbency with “federal might”.
This is simply another form of call to arms. To worsen the matter, the campaign councils of both parties are headed by state governors. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State got re-elected on March 9, 2019 despite massive military and police mobilisation against him. He leads Obaseki’s re-election bid for the PDP.
On the other hand, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi is the Chairman of APC campaign council for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. It will be recalled that during the Kogi election that secured a second term for Bello, the Woman Leader of the PDP in the state, Mrs. Salome Abuh, was burnt to death in her home on December 8, 2019 by armed hoodlums.
The law-enforcement agencies must plan ahead and ensure that the potential cells of violence are plugged to give the state a free, fair, and credible election. We reject gun-smoke governorship election in Edo State.