By Wale Adedayo
1. If Ize-Iyamu was the rallying point for PDP, while he was a member, it should be easy for him to get at least 60% of them to his side in APC today. Politics in Naija is about access. You vote for a man/woman you can easily get to or those you are close to can reach anytime they want.
Being popular yesterday does not mean the popularity will continue. Besides, in politics, popularity without a viable political structure cannot get a candidate anywhere. For a Governorship, Senatorial or House of Representatives candidate, the deployment of Opinion Pollsters is very important. Opinion Polling will help you understand where you stand with the public in terms of how they value you.
It appears the average PDP member and indeed voters in Edo State lost confidence in Ize-Iyamu. It is either he was not a rallying point for PDP members or that they lost confidence in him. In all, he was deserted by his former base – ordinary PDP members.
2. If truly 17 of the 24 Edo State House of Assembly members are against Obaseki, thus opposed to PDP, Ize-Iyamu should win, easily. As obtains with local government chairmen, State Constituencies representatives are the closest to the grassroots. Of course, a number of them may not command popular respect.
A Political Management theory has, once again, been validated here – Bandwagon Effect. Some members of Legislative Houses are not popular in their Constituencies. But they won due to the Band Effect of popular love for a political party, Governorship or Presidential candidate. If the majority House of Assembly members had been popular in their respective Constituencies, victory for Ize-Iyamu should have been like knife slicing through butter. These ones are paperweights!
3. Show of ‘Force’ is key in an election like Edo’s. A number of voters might decide to stay away for safety reasons. It does not matter that the Police and soldiers are on ground. There is always a belief that the security services often dance to the tunes of Abuja. But funds is also a deciding factor. No matter the instruction, immediate gains often decide who the security agents directly on ground will support once the cash is enough. Effective rigging requires the acquiescence of security agents, especially at the polling units, not ‘boys’.
Obaseki appears to have ‘done well’ for the security agencies on ground long before the arrival of their colleagues from outside Edo State. But, another key point is the Popular Will. No matter how strong the ‘opposing’ security officials are, they ALWAYS behave, where there is an overwhelming Popular Will. It, thus, appears the Popular Will was in favour of Obaseki.
In addition to the above, overwhelming counterforce against that of the other side might have worked for Obaseki too. Ordinarily, security agents might support the APC candidate. But with enough ‘Boys’ deployed in a quality manner, security officials may not be able to help Ize-Iyamu. Shortly before and during the election son of man saw video clips of APC Leaders being ‘dealt’ with by Obaseki’s Boys. There was one in which ‘Boys’ from Ondo State were stopped at the boundary with Edo State and the ‘Boys’ were forced to disembark from their bus. The Ize-Iyamu Boys were effectively deployed everywhere.
4. The ‘Big Men’ in each local government too matter a lot. ‘Assistance’ to the needy often go to the needy from them before and after election. If the ‘Big Man’ has interest in a candidate or party, it is almost compulsory that the people obey. The ‘Big Man’ should also be in control of the ‘Boys’ and security agents in his area. Security agents from outside the state cannot work effectively without the cooperation of those on ground. And, the ‘Big Men’ often control those on ground, not Abuja. So, no matter how many security agents are deployed from outside the state, it is certain the candidate or party that holds the ground will be respected.
The Popular Will might have challenged the Big Men here. Popular Will always overcome funds, threat of force and any other negative attitude from the other side. In Popular Will, the people often prefer to sacrifice immediate gains for the possibility of a better tomorrow.
5. Funds should not be a problem for APC’s Ize-Iyamu. Majority of the House of Assembly members are also with him. Unlike Obaseki, who is not going into the election with majority of APC Leaders/’strikers’, with majority of PDP members on his side, the APC candidate should be victorious. But, and that is a very big BUT! The grassroots matter a lot concerning ‘Show of Force’, which is evident already with the intimidating presence of security agents. Whoever controls that aspect of the equation should be the eventual winner.
The Popular Will also prevailed here. Popular Will will always disgrace funds and Show of force!
Just my two cents!
-Wale Adedayo, journalist, political activist public affairs analyst, and publisher of Uhuru Times, writes from Lagos