THAT Mr. Godwin Obaseki, yesterday, emerged the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was hardly surprising. With the full support of the outgoing governor and the majority of his government behind him, Obaseki had been in pole position to beat the 11 other aspirants in the contest to succeed the outgoing governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Votes polled Obaseki, chairman of the Edo state Economic and Strategic Team, emerged winner with 1,618 votes. His closest rival, the deputy governor of the state, Dr. Pius Odubu polled 471 votes, Mr. Kenneth Imasuagbon polled 247 votes, Dr. Chris Ogienwonyi 137 votes, while Gen. Charles Airhiavbere polled 11 votes. Prof. Osarhiemien Osunbor 9 votes, Tina Agbarha 3 votes, Peter Esele 8 votes, Austin Emuan 7 votes, Emmanuel Arigbe Osula 10 votes, Prof Ebegbue Amadasun 8 votes and Blessing Agbomhere 5 votes and 41 invalid votes. The results were declared by the chairman of the Election Committee and governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Aminu Masari at about 4 a.m. yesterday. A total of 2,582 delegates were accredited to elect the party’s flag bearer in the exercise which held at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium Benin City. Voting commenced at about 5:30 pm due to the delayed accreditation of delegates from the 18 Local Government Areas in three designated centers in Benin City. When it became clearer that Obaseki was coasting home to victory during the counting of the votes, Dr. Odubu, the outgoing deputy governor, Ogienwonyi and Imasuagbon left the stadium looking disappointed. Gen. Airhiavbere, Prof.Osunbor, Esele and the others, however, remained until the end of the exercise.
Obaseki’s path to victory was cemented by the division in the ranks of those against him who believed that they could individually have outsmarted Obaseki with the huge support of the incumbent behind him. And unfortunately for Odubu, Ogienwonyi and Imasuagbon they failed to come up with a consensus candidate, so while Obaseki enjoyed his block votes from Edo North, Oshiomhole’s domain and also captured majority of the votes in Edo Central and South districts, other aspirants shared what was left, which enabled him to inflict severe defeat on Odubu and others. Inducement Of course, the influence of money as a factor was widely widespread. However, as the comrade governor said last Wednesday all of them were involved in the utilisation of money. As one of the losers admitted, he had put delegates on a pay roll for months through his foundation which was used to woo delegates to his cause. In the course of the campaign, there were also mutual accusations among the aspirants of the mopping up of the Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs by the aspirants. How the PVCs were used by the aspirants to trap the delegates was an issue yesterday. While a source said that the mopping up of the PVCs of the delegates before the election was done to prevent them from collecting incentives, the comrade governor said yesterday that all the media assertions about the PVCs were unfounded. Another strategy used by one of the major aspirants was to sequester his delegates under heavy security away from the public. One of the aspirants, who lost complained yesterday that the decision to vote in the open was also a disservice as he said that some of the delegates complained that they were monitored as they voted.