By Chinedu Asadu
Godwin Obaseki has been declared winner of the Edo state governorship election, but his victory did not come as a surprise to many who followed developments in the state in the build-up to the election.
After being disqualified from the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship race, Obaseki defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he emerged its flagbearer and subsequently adopted a people-centred campaign.
Unlike Osagie Ize-Iyamu, his main challenger who was barely seen or heard during the campaign, Obaseki understood that in politics, as James Wilson puts it, the supreme power resides in the people.
In 2015, it was the change mantra that the APC used to end the 16-year reign of the PDP. In 2019, the “O To’Ge” movement consumed the over four decades of the Saraki political dynasty which dictated who got what in Kwara and what did the Obaseki campaign come up with in 2020? “Edo No Be Lagos”.
“Edo no be Lagos” was used as a reference to the way the powers that be in Lagos denied Akinwunmi Ambode a second term ticket. Seeing that the APC in Lagos retained power despite denying Ambode a return ticket, admirers of Obaseki in Edo warned the state APC leaders, especially Adams Oshiomhole, not to give Obaseki what they termed an “an Ambode treatment.” But the former APC national chairman would have none of it.
So, when the “Ambode treatment” was meted out on him, his supporters vowed that the governors political foes would pay the price. Apt and summative, “Edo no be Lagos” came as a warning prior to the election and spread like a wildfire on the election day.
A daring Edo resident confronted an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who was reportedly caught trying to manipulate votes in Uronigbe south, Orhionmwan local government area. After asking the official about his personality and background, the woman followed up tongue-lashing him: “Edo is not Lagos. Please tell them that Edo is not Lagos. Here, we decide who governs us; nobody decides for us.”
The message resonated loud and clear. No other way to prove it than in the result of the election. The PDP broke into the strongholds of the APC and secured victory.
While the campaign lasted, one issue that the two leading candidates in the election could not run away from was Oshiomhole, the man who marketed them to Edo residents at different intervals. However, the duo played the Oshiomhole game from, different perspectives.
While Ize-Iyamu struggled effortlessly to convince the people that he was not tied to the apron string of the former governor, Obaseki literally begged the people to assist him to dethrone a godfather.
While the people of Edo were bent on sending a message that godfatherism is gone for good, Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the APC, seemed to have added fuel to fire through the 4:53 minutes video he released in the election week. But the people responded in unison: “Edo No Be Lagos”. Now that the godfathers in Edo have been put in their place, which state is next?