Edo 2020: APC will beat APC
As things are looking now, the Edo governorship election is becoming a contest between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and itself. In theory, though, APC is not the only party that will be on the ballot for the election, but in reality, the party will be fighting against itself at the ballot.
It will be an unusual election where APC will beat APC. Sound confusing? Doesn’t have to be if you pay enough attention to happenings in Edo and how the struggle for the governorship seat is more pronounced in the ruling party.
Incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki’s path to re-election is rough and seriously threatened, but the thing here is that most of the challenges he’s facing are coming right from within his party, APC. Adams Oshiomole, a former governor and the National Chairman of APC, is fiercely opposed to Obaseki’s re-election and he has put forward a former Secretary to the Government in the state, Osagie Ize-Iyamu as a replacement.
But this isn’t 2016. Adversaries– that is, Oshiomole and Ize-Iyamu are now friends– and friends, Oshiomole and Obaseki have turned sworn rivals. This turn of events has thrown the ruling party in the state in an unprecedented crisis and send a gloomy picture of what is likely to come.
That showdown may have reached its climax with the disqualification of Obaseki from participating in the primary of the party scheduled for later this month. But the battle isn’t won or lost yet, and the issue now is how the impact could harm the party’s eventual nominee, be it Ize-Iyamu favoured by Oshiomole or any of the other aspirants.
You could be forgiven for not reading between the lines on the disqualification of Obaseki, but not seeing the possible impact on the party is somehow naive. Though, the screening committee hinged reason for disqualifying Obaseki on perceived discrepancies on his certificates and “took the party to court”, but it was more a demonstration of force and show who is in charge.
But it may go on to hunt APC and that was exactly what a former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odegie-Oyegun said shortly after news of Obaseki’s disqualification was made public. Speaking through Ray Morphy, his spokesman, Oyegun frown at the disqualification of Obaseki and want it reversed or the party would pay heavily for it.
Suggesting that Obaseki’s disqualification may be as a result of his long-run battle with Oshiomole, Oyegun noted that “the disqualification of Obaseki by the APC Screening Panel is a hatchet job aimed at installing a stooge that will allow some people unfettered access to Edo treasury.” He noted that the APC seems to have derailed and warned that “APC will suffer dire consequences in Edo state if this disqualification is not speedily reversed”, cautiously hoping “that Oshiomole will not go down in history as the undertaker of APC.”
Now, many people are seeing a replay of that same script that thwarted Akinwumi Ambode re-election bid as Lagos state governor. There is no question that godfathers have tinkered with our democracy so deeply that anyone holding political office is at their mercy. Tinubu did it with Ambode and now, Oshiomole is repeating the same thing with Obaseki.
What would Obaseki do now? Luckily, he has time on his sides and a lot of options for him to consider. Though, Oshiomole said he and others disqualified can appeal the decision of the screening committee but Obaseki should know already what the outcome will be. So far, Oshiomole has shown that the APC platform will not be available for Obaseki to pursue his re-election bid and it would be a waste of time pushing something that the outcome is foreknown.
And moving to a different party? I’m not sure that is the best thing to do in this kind of scenario. It will give Oshiomole the satisfaction he wants– pushing Obaseki out of APC and supporting his consistent alarm that the governor does engage in anti-party activities. That is something Obaseki should do everything to avoid.
If he can quickly move on from the disappointment of his disqualification, Obaseki needs to let the time he has left be focused on showing Oshiomole and his acolytes that he still has some strength in him and make them realize that unjust treatment will not go unanswered. This would not only be strategically wise in the long run, but it would also show that the godfather must have misread the extent of his influence in winning the election.
On the surface, APC is fragmented in Edo and unlike 2016, the party is now basically split between those sympathetic to Oshiomole and Obaseki. But dig a little deeper and you’ll realize that Oshiomole’s desperation for control is hurting APC and would likely affect the fortune of the party when the ballot is eventually cast. A fractured party will have no one but itself to contest against and that is what I’m seeing APC doing in the Edo governorship election.
The thing is, APC will decide the outcome of the election– whether to win or lose. Opposition parties only have a small job to do and that is making the election to be a simple question of whether the Edo people will want four more years of turbulence and proxy rule.