Battle for the soul of Edo: Anenih, Oshiomhole, Dokpesi, Oyegun fight for supremacy

By SUNDAY ODIBASHI

THE Saturday, September 10, 2016 governorship election in Edo State marks an epic power contest between notable political and state actors in the state; some of whom the election may be the retirement point in their political careers and others, parameter to establish or consolidate on their future political careers.

Investigations by National Daily revealed that the election will create a battlefield for reputable political actors in the state to prove their political sagacity and influence in Edo politics vis-à-vis their roles, relevance or ambitions in the mainstream body politic.

Apparently, this Saturday’s governorship election may not be a major power contest between the candidates of the two dominant political parties in the country, namely Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but the consummation of power hegemony struggle between renowned king maker like Chief Tony Anenih of the PDP, in conjunction with Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who is contending with the challenges of rising to stardom and political influence in the PDP; and Governor Adams Oshiomhole, incumbent governor whose tenure is coming to an end with the election and may be graduating to federal politics where he may be aspiring for federal appointment, in the interim, before the 2019 elections, as well as Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, , APC National Chairman.

Anenih who superintended the victory of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1983 in Bendel State when Osaigbovo Samuel Ogbemudia defeated incumbent Governor Ambrose Alli of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Anenih developed further reputation in the political trade off that led to the victory of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola of the Socialist Democratic Party (SDP) over Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in the June 12, 1992 presidential election.

Anenih was also repute in the political trade off among the Nigerian ruling elite that culminated into the rotation of the President to the South which commenced with the Abiola election and consummated in the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.

Even in the victory of Oshiomhole of the defunct Action Congress (AC), in Edo State in 2007, there was an innuendo that Anenih contributed to victory of the AC candidate at the election petition tribunal where Osaremon Osunbor’s election of the PDP was nullified.

All through the 16 years of PDP hegemony of the mainstream body politic, Anenih remained a household name in PDP’s political machine that determines who gets what, when and how much from the commonwealth.

The current activities of the elder statesman seemingly who recently marked his 90th birthday anniversary show a commitment to leave an indelible legacy on Nigerian politics, essentially, in Edo State polity.

Raymond Dokpesi who is aspiring for the national chairman of the PDP has already vowed to deliver Edo State to the PDP. His success in this commitment will ameliorate his fame in the party and probably his chances for the national chairmanship job in the party.

Oshiomhole will be ending his second tenure after the election. His next ambition will be to seek relevance in the mainstream body politic. The victory of the APC in this election will provide him strong bargaining tool at the centre. This is more so since President Muhammadu Buhari challenged APC leaders to prove their political relevance from their respective remote grassroots.

APC victory in this Saturday’s election could provide the springboard for Oshiomhole to authoritatively launch into the power configuration of the national politics in the APC.

Oyegun, the National Chairman of the APCl, also a former Governor of Edo State, will need victory to affirm his grassroots strength in the party and consolidate his office.

All these gladiators will, however, be reinforced by the political influence of both Ize-Iyamu of the PDP and Obaseki of the APC. Both candidates have remarkable political capital in the state to convince the electorate to vote for either of them.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that the Commission will not shift the governorship election because of the ongoing West African Examination Council (WAEC) across the country and the West African sub-region. The Election Day coincides with the date candidates will be sitting for the critical subject, Mathematics.

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INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood, through the INEC spokesperson, had in a telephone interview with National Daily, maintained that the Commission is going ahead with the governorship election as scheduled and has communicated WAEC to either relocate the candidates to other states or postpone the examination in the state this Saturday, adding that the Commission has communicated its decision to the Police.

He said that INEC has been battling with the problem of elections inconsistencies; being unable to conclude elections according to schedule.

“We cannot shift the gubernatorial election. WAEC has to relocate the candidates to other states. The Police has communicated the decision to WAEC but the Council is yet to respond,” he declared.

He maintained that the examination cannot hold under election condition where movement is restricted throughout the day.

He admitted that sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials have arrived the Edo State INEC office as part of the Commission’s readiness for the election.

Sensitive materials had arrived Benin City last Monday; the INEC assured that the materials have been under sufficient protection by security operatives.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner for INEC in Edo State, Mr. Sam Olumekun, was gathered to have guaranteed that the proposed time-table for the election is well on course.

It was gathered that over 600 thousand permanent Voters cards (PVCs) have been distributed to the electorates. Necessary security machineries have been put in place.

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