While most commentators have been cautious in their attempts to understudy the factors that influenced the outcome of the election, a few paid pipers and halleluiah singers of disenchanted interests have continued to explore all probable and improbable scenarios that could be employed or deployed to reverse the will of the Edo people.
Expectedly the PDP, after the initial daze from the loss, officially rejected the results of the election, referring to them as being at variance with results widely circulated on Social Media prior to official collation and announcement of result by the electoral body, INEC.
The predicament that Edo PDP finds itself though undesirable was quite predictable to those who followed their highly divisive campaign of calumny in the run-up to the election, which left them no space for manoeuvre in the event that they lost the election as it has eventually turned out.
As a strategy, the Edo PDP leadership created an alternative but distorted reality in the minds of its supporters, a false impression that the election was a walk over for them and that there was no possibility of APC retaining Edo state. They unearthed the moribund sub-ethnic myths, falsified history and played communities against each other, all in a bid to divert attention from the massive development that Governor Adam Oshiomhole’s APC government has bequeathed on Edo state. The idea was to divert attention from performance and concentrate on mudslinging.
Even when the indices on ground showed clearly that the majority of people in Edo state still did not trust PDP enough after their almost ten years inglorious reign in Edo, to return them to power, the party came up with this bizarre assumption, which was plausible only in their blurred imaginations, that influential members of the ruling APC purportedly working for their party were in fact disgruntled and have promised to work for the PDP candidate on election day.
The consequence was that PDP believed it commanded critical support where none actually existed. It was this wrong assumption that influenced the many paid opinions in the media, indicating that PDP had a chance at clinching the Edo governorship seat. To their bafflement, on voting day, all APC leaders stood firm, mobilised their supporters and delivered their respective polling units for their party which ensured a near total routing of PDP across the state.
The beauty of contemporary Nigerian politics is that after all said and done, on voting day the sphere of influence for politicians and voters alike is restricted solely to their individual polling units. This precludes the old culture of influential politicians moving from one polling booth to another tampering with the voting process.
While APC as a deliberate campaign strategy deployed all available resources to convince Edo people on why continuity was desirable and imperative, PDP resorted to their hackneyed strategy of raising questions about Godwin Obaseki’s certificates without offering any convincing reasons why the APC candidate was not fit to succeed Adam Oshiomhole as governor of Edo state. One would think that the party learned a lesson from the 2015 presidential election when they expended valuable resources, time and energy on demonizing candidate Muhammadu Buhari, only to realize too late that Nigerians have reached a certain level of political sophistication where they could no longer be easily swayed by unsubstantiated allegations trumped up to damage the image of opponents. But PDP as a political party hardly learns from the past essentially because its soul is possessed by old men who have lied for so long that they have simply lost any capacity to truthfully convince or honestly lure voters.
For almost eight years, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole has managed to touch the lives of every Edo person in a way that no governor before him had done. In no particular order of preference, he has transformed the state through projects, policies and investments that impacted on the old, the young , men, women, indigenes and none indigenes. So for anyone to have imagined that his party and the candidate could be defeated in an election by the same set of people who had previously run the state aground, was merely an illusion. Edo people are not known to be ungrateful and it would have been a brazen act of ingratitude, if after all Governor Adams Oshiomhole did for Edo, his party and candidate were rejected in the September 28, 2016, gubernatorial election.
It could be argued that PDP lost the Edo governorship election the day they decided to attack Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s record. It was the most callous act of deceit, arrogance and insensitivity towards the expectations of Edo people, for PDP chieftains to drive through roads constructed by Governor Oshiomhole to hitherto inaccessible part of the state and tell the people of such communities that the ruling APC government did nothing in eight years. At that point, the people could clearly see through the baggage of lies that the PDP leaders were merchandizing.
One may dislike Adams Oshiomhole as a person, or be averse to his politics, but one cannot deny the fact that as governor of Edo state, he governed with a vision and passion for developing the state. To a large extent, he judiciously utilised the resources at his disposal to pursue that vision of a greater Edo state to a verifiable and appreciable level worthy of commendation.
Perhaps PDP could have performed better at the polls if as a deliberate campaign strategy, they began each rally or forum with an apology to the Edo people for the ten disastrous years of maladministration by their past party governors in the state, acknowledge the tremendous development under the leadership of Governor Adams Oshiomhole and then promise that, based on the standards already set by the incumbent APC government, they would strive to do better if once again given the opportunity to govern. This perhaps could have warmed them back into the hearts of Edo voters. But they chose the path of infamy, denigrating Adams Oshiomhole and besmirching Godwin Obaseki.
The outcome of the election, therefore, represents a reward for eight years of good governance, purposeful leadership and investments in the future of Edo children on the one hand and the rejection of politics of godfatherism, share the money syndrome and indiscriminate looting of our commonwealth on the other.
Significantly, on a different pedestal, the loss of PDP in Edo state represents a NO vote on the “changexit” interpretation which the party stealthily planned to adduce to the result had the outcome been in their favour. The APC win therefore is the first electoral indication that though things are hard presently in Nigeria, Edo people and Nigerians, in general, are not willing to “change the change” as advocated by PDP. Edo state under governor Oshiomhole has thus remained the bastion of support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s change agenda in the South-South region of Nigeria.
Had PDP won the Edo gubernatorial election, it could have heralded a nationwide electoral revolt against the Buhari change agenda. A revolt whose consequences could define the 2019 presidential election.
The sagacity, ardency and astute leadership of Governor Adams Oshiomhole has not only helped to defy the ethic sway that saw the entire South-South region, except Edo vote PDP in the last presidential election, but once again propelled Edo people to stand firm on September 28,2016, and repel PDP’s onslaught on our collective determination to change Nigeria for good.
Victor Oshioke writes from Benin City.