Jul 16 2012
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Simon Ebegbulem & Gabriel Enogholase
Out of a total of 630,099 valid votes cast, Oshiomhole clinched victory by amassing 477,478 votes representing 76% of the valid votes, leaving Major Gen. Charles Airhiavbare of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, with 144,235 votes representing 23% of the valid total votes cast. Chief Solomon Edebiri who flew the flag of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and had been seen as an alternative was only able to manage 3,642 votes representing less than 1% of the valid votes cast.
Commercial motorcyclists who had been at the vanguard of Oshiomhole’s campaigns took to the streets in wild celebration riding even in the thick of a heavy downpour.Yesterday’s rains in the opinion of many, was heaven’s own tide to sweep out the opposition PDP from the state.
“It is finished,” Oshiomhole shouted out in a tone reflective of the messianic image he has cut for himself yesterday afternoon as he moved in carnival fashion along one of the major roads of the ancient town.
End of an era in Edo
It is indeed the end of an era not just for the PDP but for the leader of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, the former chairman of the PDP board of trustees. Anenih since he entered politics in the early eighties had without exception influenced the election of all civilian governors that ruled the state. Not one governor entered the Governor’s Office without his approval.
Yesterday, as he savoured the fresh scent of victory, Oshiomhole was humble in victory pledging that he would continue to accord Anenih, 79, the respect he deserves.
“Many believe that the election was between myself and Anenih,” Oshiomhole told newsmen at a post-election press conference.
“I appreciate him as a leader in our state, who deserves respect from all of us. I will continue to respect him and show respect to him and members of his great party inspite of our political differences,” the re-elected governor said. He, however, affirmed that he had no regrets over the taunts he heaped on the elderly politician during the campaign declaring that it was his own style.
Senator Ehigie Uzamere, ACN, Edo South, who championed the campaign to stop the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate, on his part, saw the result as the determination of the people to build a new Edo State.
“It shows that people resented the old order and we stood by a man who has given us hope and a man who has given us the things that we have for long been seeking,” Senator Uzamere said.
Senator Uzamere was neck deep in the campaign and fought to stop Airhiavbare who incidentally is his maternal nephew.
How Oshiomhole broke opposition’s challenge
How Oshiomhole was able to break down the challenge of the opposition was no easy task. It was a combination of intrigues, deployment of forces, good performance and despondency on the part of the PDP’s foot soldiers.
The governor also used the time tested practice of crying wolf to unnerve the opposition. When last Saturday voting materials failed to arrive early enough at some strongholds of the governor, Oshiomhole at about 11.45 a.m. in press interviews denounced Prof. Attahiru Jega, the national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC as having failed.The governor particularly singled out the deployment of an INEC National Commissioner, Ishmael Igbani to Edo State alleging past electoral misdeeds by the commissioner that made him not to be trusted for the sensitive job.
There are now indications that Oshiomhole’s assertion that the election was compromised would be used as an issue by the PDP.
“For the first time we agree with Adams and wholeheartedly adopt his claim that the election was not free and fair. He said it and we believe him,” a high ranking official of the PDP told Vanguard yesterday.
PDP chieftains were meeting in Benin, yesterday, to appraise the situation and give a formal response. A statement earlier prepared alleging loopholes in the conduct of the election was hurriedly withdrawn as the party’s top brass reviewed the development yesterday. Among the considerations before the party officials was the fact that the party’s national leader, President Goodluck Jonathan had congratulated Oshiomhole whose victory the president said was a reward for his good performance.
Jonathan congratulates Oshiomhole
Congratulating the governor, President Jonathan had urged Oshiomhole to see his reelection as “an endorsement of his outstanding performance in his first term and an expression of their desire for a continuation of his focused, purposeful and dynamic leadership.”
Ahead of the election the ACN had envisaged that the PDP would concentrate its energies on the Edo South Senatorial District which has 58% of the voting population. Remarkably, the ACN guessed the PDP well and sought to checkmate the opposition there. It is no surprise that while it was able to check the PDP in Edo South which is incidentally the PDP’s candidate’s base, it allowed the PDP room to move in the two other senatorial districts.
It was as such astonishing to some that the PDP did fairly well in Edo North. Even though it still lost there, but the opposition party was able to gain almost 30% in Akoko Edo and 32% in Owan West. The surprising performance was accredited to the determination of Chief Michael Oghiadomhe, the Chief of Staff to the President to show electoral value at home. The PDP also did measurably well in Esan North East and Esan North West largely on account of the influence of Chief Anenih getting as much as 40% in those areas but still not winning the total votes.
Lucky escape for Anenih
For Anenih, it was a lucky escape as he managed to deliver his polling booth to the PDP by one vote. The PDP won by 40 to 39 votes in Anenih’s booth, but then he still lost his ward to the ACN by as much as 2,000 votes.
In Edo South that had the bulk of the votes, the ACN’s strategy as implemented by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the director general of the Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation was to deploy what one source said yesterday were “ready tested ACN loyalists as agents in Edo South.”
The deployment of tested hands it was learnt was to avoid the situation where agents would be compromised.
Indeed, these die-hard enthusiasts of the ACN followed the officials and the votes from booth to ward and LGA compilation centres. At the George Idah Primary School centre that also was the compilation centre for Ward 2, in Oredo Local Government Area, soldiers had to be called in after the PDP agent for one of the units disappeared at the end of the voting leaving the space for his signature blank.ACN operatives were set to descend on one PDP official who they identified to compel him to sign the space for the agent. Their fear was that the strategy of the PDP was to leave the signatures blank opening room for denial during a possible litigation.
In Uhumwonde Local Government Area, Mr. Charles Idahosa, the Political Adviser to the Governor led the attack against the forces of the PDP led by an old reliable in the person of Senator Roland Owie. Owie’s experience was indeed of little help as the PDP still lost.
In Oredo, Bob Izua led the ACN election machine against the PDP that was in the last week re-energised with the emergence of the billionaire businessman, Captain Hosa Okunbor on its side. While Captain Hosa pumped in money, his money could really not do much. Many of his reliable operatives it was learnt had abandoned him for the ACN.
The influence of money one PDP chieftain said, yesterday, became a matter of concern as he lamented the refusal of the “Second layer” that is the foot soldiers, who he said collected money from the PDP hierarchy without passing on the money to bring out or buy out the votes. Our problem was to say the least disillusionment.
“The foot soldiers were simply disillusioned and believed that there was nothing they could do,” a top ranking member of the PDP disclosed yesterday, ahead of the party’s caucus meeting in Benin.
Also in Edo South the husband and wife tag team of Harrison and Lucy Omagbon combined to demystify the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion ensuring that the PDP candidate did not win up to 16% of the votes cast.
Also strategic to the ACN was the employment of the old PDP hands in hitting back at their former party. Mrs. Omagbon was, for instance, a former State Woman Leader of the PDP and like Ize-Iyamu and many others in the ACN who exited the party, knew how to plug the loopholes.”
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