By Gabriel Enogholase
BEFORE the July 14, 2012 governorship election in Edo state, Edo Central Senatorial District, the home of the Esan speaking people of the state unarguably regarded as the political stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In all previous elections since the advent of democracy in 1999, the party has remained dominant in all elections conducted in the Senatorial zone. In the April 2011 general election, the PDP won the two House of Representatives seat, the Senatorial seat and five of the six State House of Assembly seats allocated to the area.
However like a pack of cards, the PDP crumbled in the last governorship election as it was humbled by the Action Congress of Nigeria (A C N) who won in all the five local government areas that makes the district.
With the results of the governorship election, political pundits were of the opinion that the politics, landscape, philosophy, ideologies including alignments and realignments of Edo Central Senatorial districts has by no means has been redefined .
Edo Central has no doubt paraded some of the political juggernauts in the politics of the country, people who have helped to shape the political direction of the country at any given period of its history. From the PDP are Chief Anthony Anenih, former Board of Trustees (BoT) and chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority also a onetime National chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), Architect Mike Onolemenmen, Minister of Works, Chief Francis Ulinfun, Secretary to Immigration, Prisons and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Chief Vincent Ogu, Senator Odion Ugbesia, Dr. Anthony Aziegbemi, Prof. Oseriemen Osunbor, Chief Ewie Aimienwanuu, etc. And from the Action Congress of Nigeria (A C N) are Chief Tom Ikimi, former Foreign Affairs Minister under the late General Sani Abacha and National Chairman of the National Republican Party (NRC), late elder statesmen, late Anthony Enahoro, late Admirer Augustus Aikhomu and Prof. Ambrose Alli of blessed memory, Second Republic governor of the defunct Bendel state.
It also boasts of successful national and international business men, academicians, industrialists and a host of others.
But a cursory analysis of the results of the just concluded governorship election indicated that in spite of the heavy weights paraded by the PDP in the Senatorial zone and when viewed against their previous performances during elections indicated that impact was not much felt during the election. Majority of the leaders of the party lost their polling booths, wards and even their various local government areas to the under dogs in the ACN.
According to the results for Edo Central Senatorial zone released by INEC, IN Esan Central local government, the A C N scored 11,792 as against 9,281 by the PDP. In Esan North—East local government where Chief Anenih and the Minister of Works, Mr. Onolemenmen comes from, A C N scored 13,086 while the PDP had 12,478 just as A C N scored 14,904 in Esan South-East as against 9,643 scored by the PDP.
The A C N also outscored the PDP in Esan West with 13,499 to 13,282 and in Igueben local government where Chief Tom Ikimi hails from, the A C N won with 9,751 as against 6,758 recorded by the PDP.
Saturday Vanguard would recalled that prior to the governorship election, there was so much apprehension and anxiety as expressed by key stakeholders involved in the that the senatorial district will be the battle ground and that although it has just 16 percent of the voting electorate, it would a key factor as to who would win the governorship polls.
The excitement no doubt was occasioned by previous experience of the two main contending political parties in the state, the PDP and ACN, and of course the personality clash of the incumbent state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Chief Tony Anenih and Chief Tom Ikimi of the Action Congress of Nigeria who in previous election bowed to Chief Anenih. .
The former chairman of the ruling party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) though won his Ward in Esan North East Local Government Area, hitherto considered a PDP bastion, however lost the local government to the A C N.
However, several reasons have been adduced for the electoral misfortune of the PDP in Edo Central Senatorial zone chief among is the performance of Comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole in the zone. According to a practicing journalist in Edo state who do not want his name in print, “Oshiomhole’s performance in terms of massive rehabilitation of roads and schools in Esan land during his first tenure in office is an eye opener to the people.
For the very first time, they saw caterpillars working and lives being breathed into dilapidated schools. Esan land which is on a top of a plateau now has water. The last time Edo state had pipe-borne water was during the regime of Dr.Samuel Ogbemudia, then a military governor of the former Mid-West state”
Saturday Vanguard investigation also revealed that most of the projects embarked upon by the Oshiomhole led administration were located in remote parts of Esan land outside the traditional local government headquarters of Ubiaja, Uromi, Ekpoma, Irrua and Igueben when compared with the ten years of the PDP led administration in the state.
A PDP source also blamed the overconfidence of the Presidency to intervene in the Edo election, hoping that the PDP will over run the state and win the governorship election convincingly. Again the decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the concept of One man, one vote, and the deployment of security men, were other factors that may have influenced the outcome of the election in the senatorial zone.
According to the source, Anenih has, by the humiliating result of Saturday’s election,may have lost his leadership position of the PDP in Edo state.
“I think we have seen the last of Anenih, He has been defeated yet again in his ward. What this means is that he has lost his leadership position with the PDP in Edo and even at the national level.”
He lamented PDP’s heavy reliance on Anenih to wrestle the state from the grip of ACN, which eventually backfired, adding that although Anenih has played front line roles in reconciliations at the party’s national stage, Saturday’s unexpectedly resounding loss marked the end of his Edo PDP reign.
Comrade Oshiomhole won overwhelmingly in Edo Central local Government once considered as the PDP strong hold is an indication that the grip of former BoT chairman of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih on the Senatorial district is over.