Two Lagos boys, one homeboy

In most states, battles for the state house do not call for a crystal ball. Voters are better than pundits. They become prophets in their own rights. They are seers, not from consulting a dibia or heaven, but the shrine of the street....READ FULL ARTICLE

When the results flood in, the winner takes the glory, but there is hardly a roar of miracle, a muted hallelujah.

Not in Kano where the masses known as the talakawa dance to a populist beat. Not in Oyo State where a candidate may win or lose depending on whether the incumbent has bored or offended them. In Rivers State, the ego of the big man replaces ideas, and partisanship is not about parties but parties within a party.

Edo State is no less a quicksand. It is one of the few with a turnover of parties in the state house.

They love their day at the poll. It is mini-festival of revenge, ideological harangues, introspection, atavistic coalitions and, in a peculiar sense, a search for justice that may be defined either as geographic balancing or a settling of scores. Edo emblematises the three Cs of election: Candidate, condition and culture.

For candidate, they have thrown up a labour maven, a la Adams; a pastor, Ize Iyamu; a technocrat, Obaseki; a professor, Ihonvbere; etc. For condition, it is always about what have you done for me lately, or who is behind who.

For culture, we have the wraith of zoning, the Bini, Esan and Etsako, as well as outside influence. At the bottom is a sense of pride that sometimes turns a sophisticated electorate into something of a rabble. But Edo is always fun to watch.

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We saw that in the past week. In APC, it was Dennis Idahosa before it became Monday Okpebholo. In PDP, Governor Godwin Obaseki , who always bears the brow of a perspiring factory worker in suit, picked Asue Ighodalo when his deputy, Shaibu was either sulking or clutching a questionable victory when not raising alarm over impeachment. Charging from behind is Labour Party that settled for mercurial Tayo Akpata after a party rumble over authenticity.

Now we have the three, especially in Labour Party and PDP, even as Idahosa is still in uproar. He won before he learned he didn’t, and a new primary was done, and all who did not want him came together and handed Okpebholo the victory. With Adams not happy, the party will have to, as Okpebholo has promised, bind the wounds.

Adams still feels cheated, but the party apparatchiks seemed to have moved on. Party chairman Abdullahi Ganduje swiveled from hailing Idahosa to embracing Okpebholo. There is a reason the Janus god still enjoys homage with the first calendar month long after the deity expired. The party committed an error and came to repentance. Okpebholo has forgiven.

Now, we have three men, two Lagos boys, that is Ighodalo and Akpata. One homeboy in Okpebholo. Is Edo going to dump Lagos this time and hug a homeboy, having had for the past seven years a Lagos boy who fought Lagos in order to be an Edo boy but failed to deliver for Edo?

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Akpata, the Lagos boy and former NBA president, is hoisting the rump of Obi’s razzmatazz in the state in the last presidential poll. He is being taunted as a candidate without a structure. In the last poll, LP had no senator or rep. Obi’s influence was only for Obi. Akpata wants to give that a lie.

Is Edo now set for a homeboy, if authenticity means a homegrown hero? Both Okpebholo and Ighodalo are from Edo central, with a harvest of about 18 percent of the votes, the smallest in the state.

It is a risk the PDP and APC are taking for ethnic justice. Wil it work? Apart from Osunbor’s brief reign, no Esan or a fellow of Edo central has been governor. That was Adams argument with Idahosa, although Pastor Ize Iyamu, from Edo south, presented himself but stepped down for party harmony. Edo south is the big electoral pot with over 50 percent. That is Akpata’s hope.

He wants to exploit Bini bigotry. He is expected to pick a running mate from Edo north, Adams’ forte, which inspires about 24 percent of the electoral votes. In terms of numbers, Akpata feels he has an advantage. But the Edo may be too subtle for such deadpan calculation.

The APC thinks they can exploit their candidate’s Edo authenticity. Ighodalo is beginning to be jeered for his lack of language skill. They say he cannot speak good Esan, and he employs translators to communicate with his own people. This is a throwback to Lagos guber candidate Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, whose lips were alien to good Yoruba when he wanted to run for Lagos top seat.

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There is also the view that Obaseki’s blood is with Akpata, if his party is with Ighodalo. Obaseki and Akpata are children of the Benin Kingdom.

For Akpata, it is a paradox that a royal is pitching his tent with the so-called people’s party, a contradiction that I expect the people to interrogate in the coming months. If Obaseki’s blue blood nods for Akpata and his red blood for Ighodalo, is one blood not going to dilute the other?

As they say, all politics is local. President Bola Tinubu has ensured that there is no outcry of external strings. In this poll, APC’s spring is in its Edo soul. Obaseki’s failure as governor does not recommend him as a godfather.

Maybe hence speculations have it that he is hedging his underground bet with his fellow royal in Akpata.

From that perspective, the odds may favour Okpebholo, but it depends on how APC wheel horses wield the advantage of homeboy, dissuade any wave of Bini entitlement and mollify Adams’ stronghold in the north. Lots of work ahead, though.…READ FULL ARTICLE

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