Ahead of the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State, the two leading political parties in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are not ready to leave anything to chance.
As a result, both parties have appointed governors they believe can deliver the state to lead their campaigns.
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While Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State leads APC’s 49-member National Campaign Council and assisted by Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers will lead the PDP.
He will be assisted by Governor Umar Fintiri of Adamawa State.
The choice of Ganduje to lead APC’s campaign in Edo, which is seen as one of the most politically turbulent states in the country, is an indication that Pastor Ize-Iyamu has federal support.
It is believed that Ganduge has the political experience and financial wherewithal to match his opponent.
Last Monday, Ganduje threw the first punch when he said the leader of the PDP Campaign Council would recover from an isolation centre after the victory of the governorship candidate of the APC.
Reacting to a question on his party’s expectation during the election, the Kano State governor said, “I assure you that we will take Wike to an isolation centre, and before he recovers, the election will be over.
“The PDP decided to accommodate our former governor in Edo State, not because they have anything in common, but simply because he is managing the treasury of Edo State and they want him to use it to win the election.
“But I assure you that the people of Edo are watching. They will not accept this treachery. On September 19, the people will come out en masse and vote for the APC.”
He said the APC had a formidable team that would do everything possible to win the forthcoming election, adding that there would be an enabling environment for the exercise.
He further said, “We know the opposition is planning to rig the election. We know their tactics. We know their methodologies, but we shall dismantle all their tactics to ensure that we win this election.
“I am encouraged when I see the composition of the Campaign Council, which comprises both young and old.
“We will work together to ensure that there is complete synergy within the party. We are working with one voice so that we can eliminate the problems of anti-party activities, sabotage and espionage.
“The council will work with the leadership of the party in the state to understand the political field and know areas of strength and weaknesses, areas we have to take advantage and even areas of threat.”
In a reaction on Tuesday during the inauguration of his party’s campaign Council, Governor Wike said no “antics and shenanigans” of the APC would stop the PDP from winning the election.
“I have accepted to head this campaign and make sure the PDP wins the election come September 19, 2020. Nobody can intimidate us. Yesterday (Monday), I read on the pages of newspapers that one Governor Ganduje said he was going to isolate me until the election is over. If Nigeria is supposed to be a country, who is supposed to be isolated?
To the security agencies, any attempt to rig this election, we will all know whether it is better for us to remain here or not. This is because Edo people have spoken and it is very clear. Let nobody make any attempt. Edo State has come back to the PDP,” Wike said.
Wike has become a powerful force in the PDP, such that it is widely believed that he pays the piper and determines the tune.
Specifically, political pundits say his influence stems from the fact that he sits over the affairs of an oil-rich state.
Wike’s influence in the party became glaring when it lost power in 2015. Following the fate of the party, its then national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, was forced to throw in the towel, while his deputy, Prince Uche Secondus, took over in acting capacity. Subsequently, governors on the platform of the party, including Wike, became major financiers.
A significant incident that showed how powerful Governor Wike had become was when the PDP moved its national conventions from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
It was also alleged that Wike played an important role to defeat the former controversial national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, an action that led to the return of peace to their fold.
In the build-up to the 2016 national convention of the party to elect officers, Wike was said to have supported Prince Uche Secondus. He had his way and Secondus clinched the party’s national chairmanship seat.
In 2014, he won the governorship primary election of the PDP and went ahead to defeat Dakuku Peterside of the APC and Tonye Princewill of the Labour Party (LP) in the April 11 election to emerge as governor.
Due to the fear of COVID-19, both parties are engaging in social media pranks to sell their candidates to the electorate.
At the moment, what is very visible is the horse-trading between supporters of Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Governor Godwin Obaseki on social media platforms.
While supporters of the PDP are playing up the remarks of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole against the current candidate of the party, Ize-Iyamu during the 2016 campaigns, APC supporters are playing up the criticism of a former chairman of the PDP in the state, Dan Orbih, in which he accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of non-performance, among other things. Oshiomhole had said that Pastor Ize-Iyamu could not be entrusted with public fund.
They are also embarking on door-to-door campaigns and sponsoring write-ups on social media platforms to either praise their candidate and the party or discredit their opponents.
Considering the way things are going, it looks like the campaign would focus more on character assassination than issues.
A resident of the state, who identified himself as Benedict, is praying that the campaigns would be devoid of violence. “I hope the campaigns would be peaceful, especially looking at the calibre of people heading their campaign teams,’’ he said.
Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday, the publicity secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare said, “Wike’s experience will help us chart a way to victory on September 19. He will help to direct and galvanise campaign activities for good results.
Also, our candidate is unblemished. And when we talk of performance, our candidate has done above average in his first term. The people are tired of the shenanigans of the APC and this is the time to pay them back.
The PDP is standing on victory on three very strong terms – the personality involved, performance of the governor, and the reaction of the people to APC’s mis-governance in the last few years, these three things will propel us to victory.”
But the spokesperson of the Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation, John Mayaki, said Edo people, who loved and trusted the APC, would elect the party’s candidate come September 19.
“Come September 19, the people of Edo State will re-assert their choice of the APC and Pastor Ize-Iyamu, who, as a matter of fact, enjoys cross-party support in the 18 local government areas of the state because of his reputation as a peaceful bridge builder and competent leader.
The National Campaign Council under the chairmanship of Governor Ganduje is playing a great role to ensure victory at the poll. The PDP in Edo today is scared, as you can see in their resort to cheap blackmail, smear campaign and other desperate actions,” Mayaki said.