Rooting For Oshiomhole
If the governorship election in Edo State were to be held today, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is most likely to be returned with wide votes. Oshiomhole who is the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has been endorsed for a second term by leaders of the opposition parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Last week former President Olusegun Obasanjo who recently resigned as chairman, board of trustees, BoT, of the PDP, paid an unscheduled visit to Governor Oshiomhole at the government house, Benin City and held a closed door meeting with the governor. Although Obasanjo refused to disclose the purpose of his visit other than “I must not be in Benin City without calling on the governor,” political analysts believe that the visit of the former president barely three months to the governorship election was indeed a morale booster to the governor.
If Obasanjo is deferring the purpose of his visit until his next visit, not so for Dr Samuel Ogbemudia who is also a member of BoT of the PDP. Ogbemudia, a two-time governor of defunct Bendel State, few weeks ago told Oshiomhole “Your Excellency, I salute your dedication, vision and loyalty which is all that you need to be sworn-in in July. Benin people have already spoken!” He recalled how he challenged PDP members who came to visit him to give credit to Oshiomhole for his developmental projects in the state. “You go there, win and leave the rest for us. Your job is to go and win and come back to Osadebey Avenue,” he assured the governor.
Ogbemudia has been known to be an ardent supporter of Oshiomhole. Two years ago, he predicted that last year’s elections would see a new Edo State House of Assembly dominated by members of the ACN.
Ogbemudia is not the only PDP member supporting Oshiomhole’s re-election. Former governor of the party in the state, Senator Osariemen Osunbor had equally openly declared his support for the governor. And for the Agbodo community despite the fact that their son, Charles Airhiavbere is the governorship candidate of the PDP, they have no other candidate apart from Oshiomhole.
The latest in a series of endorsements was from Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, former vice presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, in last year’s presidential election. Oyegun, also a former governor of Edo State admitted that since the creation of Edo State the people have not witnessed the type of revolution in infrastructure development going on in the state under Oshiomhole. “The challenge before you is not whether Adams Oshiomhole, who has brought a new life to Edo State will win or not. He will win. What we are going to face is not an election but a referendum, how much you appreciate what he has done. As an individual, I totally appreciate what he is doing.”
His endorsement of a candidate of another political party has caused a stir in the ANPP. In reaction, the leadership of the party in the state suspended him. But Oyegun in his resignation letter to the national chairman of the ANPP, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said he was supporting Oshiomhole’s re-election because he has performed brilliantly. He said he was of the view that supporting the governor’s re-election would afford the ANPP the opportunity to take time and rebuild instead of “recruiting some joke of a candidate as no ANPP member was willing, or has the capacity, to take on an overwhelmingly popular and performing Governor Oshiomhole.”
Chief Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, said the July 14 governorship election in Edo State will not be about political parties. Ozekhome explained that Oshiomhole’s performance in office will work in his favour during the election. “This is not because he is our son. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has performed so well that he has turned Edo State into a construction site in Nigeria. Comrade Oshiomhole is an unusual governor. He is a blessing to Afemai, Weppa Wanno, Etsako people, Edo nation, Nigeria, Africa and the entire mankind.”
The governor’s infrastructural development touched every part of Edo State. Deputy speaker of the state House of Assembly, Festus Ebea said the developmental strides of the governor in Edo central will guarantee him re-election. “I can tell you that the people of Edo Central agreed with the massive road network, rehabilitation of schools at Ubiaja, Irrua, Ekpoma that Oshiomhole should be re-elected for a second term.” He noted that the governor has no challenger because he has demonstrated that he is tested and can be trusted to perform better if given a second chance. “There is simply no challenge for Oshiomhole in Esan land. It is not a matter of calling Abuja to come and do wonders. The people are resolute; they are ready to defend their votes and come July 14, 2012 they will do just that,” Ebea, who represents Esan south east in the House said.
Opposition parties in the state have formed a coalition in a bid to upstage Oshiomhole at the election. Six of these parties have adopted Solomon Edebiri of the Peoples Progressive Party, PPP. PDP however did not join the coalition. The Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and the Labour Party, LP are factionalised; each of the factions is supporting the ACN candidate, Comrade Oshiomhole. The National Conscience Party, NCP and the Accord Party have also adopted Oshiomhole as their candidate. The CPC is not likely to make any meaningful impact in the election despite the fact that its national chairman, Prince Tony Momoh is from Edo State. The party did not win any seat in the state and National Assembly elections last year.