Saturday, September 19, 2020 9:47 am
Voters across Edo State very early Saturday morning began trooping out to vote in an election that will decide who occupies the Dennis Osadebey Government House for the next four years.
A visit to some polling units indicate that voting may not start at the scheduled time of 8.30 am.
For example, polling officials at ward 4, Oredo Local Governments Area where Governor Obaseki is expected to vote, electoral officials are still busy trying to do demarcation that will facilitate social distancing as at 8.50 am.
Also, at Oredo Ward 2, unit 1and 2 where for Governor John Oyegun is expected to vote, the electoral officials are yet to arrive as at 8 am. In the same vein, at Oba market ward in Oredo, the electoral officials were just setting up some minutes to 9 am.
Meanwhile, it was also observed that there is a high turn out of voters. Indeed, the voters arrived at the polling units before the polling officials.
It was also observed that while most of the voters have put on face masks, they did not put it on properly, as they left it hanging on their chins.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission says 1.72 million residents of the State are eligible to vote in the election.
However, going by past experience, less than 50 per cent of the persons on the register may turn up to vote. Voters across the 18 Local Government Areas, 192 Wards and 2,627 polling units are expected to use their ballot papers to determine if they want the incumbent Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who is contesting on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to continue in office or if they want any of the other 13 candidates on the ballot to replace him.
Among the 13, the strongest opposition to Obaseki’s second term was unarguably the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu.
Indeed, Obaseki and Ize- Iyamu were the only candidates among the 14 believed to have structures to win the election. In a way, today’s election is a replay of the 2016 gubernatorial election of the State in which Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu were also the major candidates.
Obaseki, who contested on the platform of APC defeated Ize Iyamu, then of PDP, in the 2016 battle by a slim margin. However, the candidates have now switched platforms with Obaseki now the flag bearer of PDP while Ize Iyamu is the candidate of APC.
Obaseki, a stock broker and investment banker defected from APC to PDP after he failed to get the ticket of his party. This was after he fell out with his predecessor, former Governor Adams Oshiomhole soon who he served for eight years as the head of the economic and strategic team soon after he assumed office.
On the other hand, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, or POI, as he is popularly known, is a grassroots politician whose loyalists spread across the 18 local government areas of the state. He served as chief of staff to former governor Lucky Igbinedion, and later Secretary to State Government between 1999 and 2007. Ize-Iyamu also served as the Director-General of Oshiomhole’s re-election campaign in 2012.
He later fell out with Oshiomhole and in 2014 defected to the PDP, where he picked the party’s ticket for the 2016 governorship ticket, but lost. It is believed that he has structures across the 192 wards in the state. According to analysts, the greatest strength of Ize-Iyamu in his foot soldiers and his investment in people across the state, when he held-sway as the SSG and Chief of Staff to Edo State Government.
INEC figures reveal that in the three senatorial districts of the state, Edo South has the highest figure of 1,281,414: the North with 564,122: and Central senatorial district has 364,998.
Also, while Edo South has seven council areas; the North has six while Central has five Local Government Areas. It is therefore believed that for any of the candidate to win, he has to do well in the Edo South and Edo North. The APC and the PDP candidates are from Edo South while their deputies Audu Ganiyu and Philip Shaibu respectively are from the Edo North Zone. In addition, the APC will be counting on the support of former Governor Oshiomhole who is also from Edo North to help it haul votes in the zone.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has also that the election will be conducted in strict observation of Covid-19 protocols. Hence, all voters are mandated to use face or nose masks before they are allowed into the polling unit for voting.
As voters arrive at the polling units wearing face masks, they will be subjected to temperature check with infrared thermometer while two layers of queue (outer and inner) will be maintained to enhance compliance with social distancing rules.
More photos of voters in Oredo (by Ayo Efunla):