Edo LG Polls: Tainted and tough

BY SIMON EBEGBULEM

The much awaited local government election in Edo State last Saturday was another bad outing for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) won the chairmanship in all 14 Local Government Councils where elections took place and also swept most of the councillorships.

The local government elections conducted by the Edo state Independent National Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) were largely tainted by logistic constraints as voting did not commence until nearly mid afternoon on election day throughout the state.

Indeed, the election did not hold in the local government area hosting the state capital, Oredo and in three other councils, namely Ikpoba Okhai, Esan West and Esan North East. The elections in those areas have now been rescheduled to hold this Wednesday and Thursday.

The EDSIEC put the blame for the logistic mishaps to the contractor who according to the commission printed the materials in London.

Chairman of EDSIEC, Mr. Solomon Ogoi lamented that the commission had problems flying the materials from Lagos to Benin after they arrived from London last Friday and therefore decided to transport them by road to Benin.

The materials arrived Benin at about 5:30 a.m. and before they could get to the interior areas it was at about 1 p.m. Voting started in most areas between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.

As expected, the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion led the PDP attack in Ovia North East Local Government, but all his efforts could not stop the ACN led by Igbinendion’s former political disciple Mrs. Lucy Omagbon from prevailing in the council.

*Oshiomhole of ACN and Airhiavbere of PDP casting their votes during the last governorship election in the state

File photo: Oshiomhole of ACN and Airhiavbere of PDP casting their votes during the last governorship election in the state

Omagbon popularly known as the iron lady of Edo politics was remarkably, the former women leader of the PDP in the state.

In many other areas, the PDP attack was punctuated by many of their former acolytes who frustrated the bold efforts by the PDP to retake the initiative in the state.

In Etsako Central, home soil of the state chairman of the PDP Chief Dan Orbih and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadohme, the ACN pulled to victory in the chairmanship contest and won nine of the ten councillorship positions. The exception was in Orbih’s ward where Orbih proved his political worth by delivering his polling booth and ward to his party. It was, however, a different story for Oghiadohme who again lost booth and ward to the ACN.

In Owan West, two former strong PDP partisans, the secretary to the Edo state Government, Professor Julius Ihonvbere and former Deputy Governor of the state, Rev. Peter Obadan championed the ACN attack on their former party. The PDP forces marshaled by former member of the House of Representatives and PDP deputy governorship candidate in the 2012 gubernatorial election, Johnson Abulagba and Daniel Asekhame led a fierce defence of the PDP. Obadan escaped death in a shootout between some thugs and his orderly.

The ACN won the chairmanship in the 14 councils where election was held in Egor, Igueben, Esan South East, Etsako East, Akoko Edo, Esako Central, Etsako West, Orhionmwon, Uhumnwonde, Ovia North East, Owan East, Owan West and Ovia South West.

The outcome was not a surprise to many because the ACN won in all the 18 Local Government councils during last year’s governorship election, including the PDP strong hold of Edo Central. Oshiomhole led a vigorous campaign for the ACN in the entire Local Government.

The PDP campaign was led by Orbih but it was mostly visible in Esan North East, Ovia North East and Etsako Central. Unlike during the governorship campaign, major PDP leaders including Chief Anenih, the Minister of Works, Arch Onolemenmen were not available for the campaign.

Orbih was quick to reject the outcome of the election at a press conference on Sunday as he called for fresh elections, just as he described the election as a sham. According to him, “We will not accept the result as announced because the election was inconclusive. The issue of Oredo and Ikpoba Okhai conducting election on Thursday is unacceptable because this would mean staggering election. We are insisting that if ACN is serious in conducting election it should be done in all the 18 Local Governments”.

Electoral materials
The Deputy Chairman (South) of the All Nigeria  Peoples Party, ANPP and the gubernatorial candidate of the ANPP in 2012, Mr. Solomon Edebiri also rejected the election describing it as a sham.

“There was no election in Uhumnwonde. Can you imagine that the ACN chairman in the area was the one distributing electoral materials? Their thugs destroyed my cars,” he said.

The complaints were dismissed by the state chairman of the ACN, Thomas Okosun who described the PDP allegations as laughable.

“How do they expect to win election when they did not prepare for it? We know that it is their style to make frivolous allegations.”

Governor Adams Oshiomhole has, however, brushed past the events of last Saturday as he yesterday inaugurated the 14 chairmen who were successful in the election with a charge to them to replicate his largely commended development initiatives at the local government level.

The quick inauguration of the 14 was another victory for the ACN as it was largely believed  that the PDP was preparing court papers for an injunction to stop the inauguration.

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