The Edo election was too close to call at some point; an indication that the APC barely got out of jail with its victory
APC candidate Godwin Obaseki defeated Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP with 319,483 votes, to emerge Governor-elect of Edo State.
Iyamu polled 253, 173 votes.
APC Governors have been taking turns to heave sighs of relief and for good reason too--a defeat would have been too bitter and damaging a pill to swallow for the governing party at the center. A defeat would have had far-reaching consequences and birthed a domino effect for future elections.
"I am happy that my party has won in Edo. I thank the Edo people for not changing the change. This change is here to stay", exhaled Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who added that; “Please bear with us, it will soon be over and the nation will come out in victory".
He was of course referring to a downturn in the economic fortunes of Nigerians since his party sacked the PDP at the center in 2015.
Said Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State: “With the decision to vote Obaseki who is equally people-friendly, reliable, trustworthy and has the fear of God, the people have made the right choice and I can only urge them to continue to support him to deliver on the campaign promises.”
Outgoing Edo Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, was in bullish mood moments after the umpire called the election for his party, but even he must have harboured fears of a likely PDP victory before the first ballot was cast in anger.
"We have humbled Chief Tom Ikimi even in the local government he claimed to have created. We defeated Chief Raymond Dokpesi in his polling unit, his Ward and his local government. That reassures that the ruthless deployment of media machinery is not enough to distort the will of Edo people to determine their choice,” said Edo's number one citizen.
Under fire just moments before the election; with APC leader Bola Tinubu joining top party faithful in demanding that he takes a walk, party Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun must have drowned himself in nightcaps, Thursday.
”On behalf of the APC National Working Committee, I thank the good people of Edo State for the massive turnout during the election,” he said.
Oyegun added that: ”The people of Edo state voted to ensure continuity and consolidation of the massive multi-faceted developments recorded under the administration of Gov. Adams Oshiomhole. The party assures that we will deliver on this expectation.”
The APC has little choice but to deliver on expectations from this point. This week, it was handed a lifeline--its last.
This was very much a get-out-of-jail-card for the APC. The numbers were close. Obaseki bested Iyamu with a little over 66,000 votes; an indication of how close a call it was at some point.
At about mid-day on vote collation day, Iyamu and his supporters still harboured genuine hopes of moving his wares into Edo Government House.
Back at the Pulse Situation Room tucked in a corner of Lekki in Lagos, News Associates and Editors were still at a loss on who to call the election for, before the sun went down.
It was nowhere near a landslide, this.
Buhari and his APC should see this as a sign of things to come if the economy doesn't improve, if jobs aren't created and if a plethora of election campaign promises remain unmet before voters head to the polls in the Spring of 2019.
With the Ondo governorship election just in the horizon, this was a stay of execution for Buhari and his party. Edo was a referendum.
When a battle-weary Buhari appeared on the stump alongside Oshiomhole and Obaseki weeks ago, not a few averred that he would have been better off as far away from Edo voters as possible, given poor mid-term results from his management of the country.
If Edo taught us one thing, it is that voters in Africa's most populous country are getting increasingly sophisticated by the day.
Buhari's and the APC's blushes have just been spared. There'll be no need for triumphalism at this point when sober reflection will suffice.