By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
The victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in last Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has drastically changed permutations for the nation’s presidential race, with political analysts predicting the outcome may alter 2023 power calculations, Business Hallmark findings can reveal.
The Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) had on Sunday, returned Obaseki of the PDP as elected as the governor of Edo State. He secured the highest votes in the governorship election which was held on September 19.
The incumbent secured 307,955 votes across 18 local government areas while Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), polled 223,619 votes. The governor won in 13 local government areas while Ize-Iyamu, his closest challenger, won in five.
With the victory, PDP will officially be in control of Edo State untill November 2024, enough time to influence the 2023 presidential election.
According to several political analysts who spoke to our correspondent, the PDP victory in Edo has thrown open the 2023 presidential contest, with the main opposition party in a more vantage position to launch another challenge for the presidential villa after a failed outing in 2015.
Several sources in the APC while reacting to the loss, blamed it on schemings forthecontroloftheAPCbyvariouscampsaheadof2023generalelections.
They revealed that there is a plotbysomepeopleinthepartytostopanationalleaderoftheAPC,AsiwajuBolaTinubu,whoissaidtohaveapresidentialambition,fromgainingmorefootholdtolaunchasuccessfulbidfortheexaltedoffice.
It was learnt that several anti-Tinubu politician within the presidency and the APC, led by the Rotimi Amaechi / Nasir El-Rufai camp, and the Progressives Governors Forum, led by Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayomi, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ekiti, Yahaya Bello of Kogi, and many others worked against the interest of their party in the Edo poll.
BH reliably gathered that governors in the APC Progressives Governor’sForum still have the believe that they can still bring back Obaseki to the party after helping him to win re-election on the platform of the PDP.
One of the sources in the APC said,“Oshiomholehadbeenthestumblingblockandhe is out of the equation. If Ize-Iyamu had won, Oshiomhole would have bounced back to power and reckoning. The consensus is that that will not help our course as we strongly feel that we needed to work for our colleague, Governor Obaseki, who has now won the last laugh”, the source said.
Another source told our correspondent that governors on the APC platform have the ambition to install one of their own as president to replace President Mumammadu Buhari.
“A win for APC in Edo would have been a win for Tinubu in his quest to be president. There is a plot to checkmate him by preventing him from having tentacles to launch his presidential ambition.
“Mark my word, Edo wont be the last attempt to whittle down his influence. There are even moves to team up with opposition forces in the PDP to ensure Ondo goes the way of the opposition.
When reminded that Akeredolu is a member of the APC Governors Forum and a member of the anti-Tinubu camp, the source comfirmed that members of the party are in a dilemma on what to do.
He said while the colleagues of the governor (Aketedolu) in the governors forum are favourably disposed to his coming back, those in President Buhari’s camp are not too keen to join the band as long as the loss of Ondo will help weaken Tinubu more.
“While some hawks close to the president don’t have any issue with Akeredolu, they believe a win for APC in Ondo will be a big plus for Tinubu. So, the consensus in their camp is that there are always collateral damage in any battle, and that Akeredolu could end of being damaged in the battle to stop Tinubu”, he declared.
It was also learnt that many APC governors were unhappy with the way Oshiomhole, considered as Tinubu’s lackey, managed the party while he was chairman.
“In leaving for the PDP, Obasekiwasencouragedbymanysympatheticpartymembers.EvenwhentheywerenotnecessarilyfriendsoralliesofObaseki,thesympathizershavedefinedtheirinterestsagainstwhattheybelieveisbeingpursuedbythe Tinubu camp to gain control of the party.
A close ally of Tinubu, Alhaji Tajudeen Inaolaji, admited that they are aware of the plot by some forces within the presidency and the APC to whittle down the influence of the former Lagos governor before the 2023 polls.
“Some people within the APC believe that with Tinubuin controlof the party and more states, it will be virtually impossible to stop him. So, theydonotmindlosingthestate so far as they can use that as a factor to hit at him.
“Those against his growing ascendancy in the party believe that they can undermine the political stature of the national leader, but they will not succed,”‘ Inaolaji declared.
Meanwhile, the loss of Edo by the APC to the PDP has changed the dynamics of things and has given the PDP an impect us to stage a major claim for the presidency. With Edo now in the kitty, the PDP now controls 17 states, as against 18 by the APC and one by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
According to a public affairs analyst, Mr. David Jegede, the victory of Governor Godwin Obaseki, which could be traced to the APC national crisis and many other factors, has thrown open the 2023 presidential race.
“The battle within APC at the national level played out squarely on ground. The party is already split into two flowing from the last crisis that saw the exit of Oshiomole as the party’s national chairman.
“Defeating APC is part of defeating Oshiomole’s group ahead of the party’s forthcoming national convention. By extension , Edo is a test case for the 2023 presidential battle. The loss of Edo is a major set back for Bola Tinubu’s presidential aspiration.
“Also, if there is a factor that further enhanced Obaseki’s victory, it was the video broadcast by the party’s national leader, Tinubu. The message from Lagos reinforced the narrative on ground of a plot to transform Edo to Lagos model. The ill advised clip provided strong campaign ammunition to the PDP.
“Another huge factor not considered is the strong coalition of PDP across South West. Of all the South South states , all were PDP except Edo. The defection of Obaseki to PDP changed the scenario, making South South a wholly PDP zone. The South South governors deeply mobilised for Obaseki”, he said.