Edo State, in South-South Nigeria, elects a governor today, September 19, 2020.
The election will be the culmination of weeks and months of sabre-rattling, insults, switching of political camps and masters, betrayals, allegations and counter allegations from the two leading political parties and violence on perhaps an unprecedented scale. On paper, one of incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is expected to win this election, even though there are 12 other candidates in the race. In the end however, it will be down to the 2,210,534 registered voters of Edo and the 18 local governments to decide who steers the affairs of the state for the next four years. The South Senatorial District of Edo has the highest number of registered voters with 1,281,414, the North has 564,122, while the Central Senatorial District has the least number of registered voters at 364,998. 483,769 registered voters failed to collect their PVCs (Permanent Voters Cards) for the election. It is a sad commentary, however, that politics in Nigeria has become a zero sum game or a do or die affair. Which is why Edo has been like a battlefield of some sorts since 2018, with former Governor Adams Oshiomhole emerging as the godfather from which the two major candidates have drawn their strengths and poured their odium at different times in the months preceding the vote.
For all the drama that the campaigns have thrown up, we should not forget that this election is primarily about the welfare and safety of the people of Edo. It should be about who has presented the best plans to fix dilapidated roads, open up new ones, equip hospitals, create jobs, diversify the economy, fix the education sector, secure the state and send the thugs and kidnappers out of business. Regrettably, the debates leading up to the election were big on insults and rhetoric and light on a workable blueprint that the people can look forward to and hold the candidates to. However, elections should be about handing the people some fresh hope, dynamism and optimism. The build-up to this election has been anything but peaceful and the main political gladiators have skirted around the real issues that worry Edo voters. It is important however that the people of Edo are allowed to choose their governor in an atmosphere devoid of ballot box snatching, gun duels, voter fraud, vote buying, tension and intimidation. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should also play its role of an unbiased umpire throughout the election. Elections should be about the majority having their say at all times and we appeal to all political camps to adhere to the peace deal brokered by the Oba of Benin and the Abulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee (NPC) in the final days of the campaigns. We also appeal that at the end of the exercise, the aggrieved losing parties and their supporters should contest the final results at the courts rather than resort to brigandage and violence on the streets. We wish all the candidates in the race the best and may the best candidate win.