With less than 14 days to the June 22 Edo State All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship primaries, the two leading governorship contenders in the scheduled contest, incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki and his strongest challenger, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu are cresting in a head-to-head crucial electoral war that is set to redefine the political architecture of Edo State. The stakes are increasingly very high with political temperatures running at all time high!
Dr Pius Odubu, a former deputy governor of Edo State, Engr Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former Minister of State for Works, Mr Osaro Obazee and Hon Matthew Iduorieyekemwen who are also in the epic race were not considered to be in crucial reckoning, according to respondents sampled across the three Senatorial zones on the June 22 APC governorship primary. As at today, statistical data indicate that about 2% of eligible voters in the scheduled APC primary are still undecided as to where they would likely pitch their tents.
Going by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s figures, the number of registered eligible voters in Edo State stand at 2,210,534 with spread across the three Senatorial zones as well as well as the 18 Local government council areas (LGAs) in the state. Who secures majority of eligible party votes and proceeds to harvest successfully from the designated 2,210,534 eligible voters in the actual governorship elections? That is the big question. The race is quite fierce, most ferocious and very decisive.
From field questionnaires administered randomly on eligible voters and party members across the 18 local government councils in Edo State over the last one month, field data tracked, telephone calls made, field interviews conducted, focus group discussions held by our team of field workers and data analysts, and data aggregated across the three senatorial zones, indications are that current existing political dynamics are tilting the scales in favour of Pastor Ize-Iyamu. Based on our field data and reports across the three Senatorial zones and the 18 LGAs, if the APC primaries were held today, Pastor Ize-Iyamu is projected to lead with 59 % political support base over Governor Obaseki’s 39% support base.
This is because after scaling the first stage-party primary- the candidate would then square up in the turbulent battle for the actual governorship election. However, it is important to note that the dynamics that would shape the actual governorship polls are significantly different from those of the APC party primary. According to INEC there are 192 established or registered wards and 2,627 polling units across the state. Whoever wins the APC primary on June 22 will have to contend with a big fight from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP according to many analysts is seriously waiting in the wings to capitalize on internal wrangling in the APC to bare its teeth in the raging twists and turns in Edo political war. Field reports also indicate that there are legion and mountain of litigation lurking in the corner regardless of whichever side triumph at the polls.
Based on our findings, analysis, projections and computations are however premised on INEC’s statistical data of registered voters in Edo State (2,210,534), the National Population Commission (NPC) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) figures and data which put the state’s population at 4,234,600 people. Of these figures, from our random sampling of eligible APC members and voters preferences using monkey survey questions with a combination of hybrid polling, majority of the eligible politicians and eligible APC members tip Ize-Iyamu as having more grassroots and voters support base than his fellow contestants, and he is projected to emerge with lead or majority political support base if the APC primaries were held TODAY.
Curiously, most respondents say they would vote for Ize-Iyamu based on unexpected factors such as “oh he knows me personally and he is closer to the grassroots because he is at home more with the people and that he understands our needs and pains ” than other expected dynamics which were put across to many with respect to each of the candidates ability to deliver on reforms needed to get the State going in turbulent economic times.
When the same question was posed to these sets of respondents in another way, stressing that given the fact that the current Edo state Governor, Mr Obaseki is a solid technocrat who can enhance the lives of the people, most respondents said the issues have to do more with empowerment: “ We want empowerment now, and someone who knows our pains, our sufferings and that is Pastor(Ize-Iyamu). So we don’t need grammar at this stage.” However, majority of the elite respondents sampled at the Ambrose Ali university, Ekpoma in Edo Central said they prefer Governor Obaseki to Ize-Iyamu because he has changed the face of the university, and that he takes deep personal interest in the academic and administrative programs at the university. Said an academics: ” We love and support Obaseki. See how he changed our university positively.”
The Swings, Political Trolls…
Thus as the governorship primaries enter into crucial stages, stretching all the APC contenders to breaking point, findings from our Poll survey based on defined metrics, show the following dynamics as at TODAY: If the APC primaries are held today, Ize-Iyamu is projected to lead with 79% of eligible political support in Edo North( with projected voting strength of 25%) while Obaseki would lead with projected 62% of the political support in Edo Central(with projected voting capacity of 17%) to overwhelm Ize-Iyamu in four of the five Esan LGAs. In Edo South Senatorial zone(with 58% of voting strength) , our findings indicate that Ize-Iyamu has strong 59% political support base while Obaseki is has a solid 38% political support base. The other contenders Odubu, Ogiemwonyi, Matthew Iduorieyekemwen and Osaro Obazee trailing behind faintly in that order.
As things stand, from collated field data, Ize-Iyamu seems to be holding firmly to Edo North with a strong predictable 79% political support preference to Obaseki’s 19%. On the other hand, Obaseki is equally projected to be holding tightly to Edo Central with a strong predictable 62% political support base to Ize-Iyamu’s 33%. What are the dynamics shaping this pattern of estimated political behavior among politicians in Edo State?
In Edo North, the race is seen as a straight fight between Obaseki and Oshiomhole with the later projected to swing 79% of block support for Ize-Iyamu leaving Obaseki with a marginal 19% support courtesy of Philip Shaibu, and Senator Obende. This is the dynamics principally shaping the political trend here in Edo North.
In Edo Central, the Esan area, the sentiment seems to align with some political permutations among politicians that the Esan stand a chance of producing the governor of Edo state in 2024 if Obaseki wins. This dynamics is found to be working heavily in the Governor’s favour in Edo Central Senatorial zone, with him projected to coast home with 62% political support base in Edo Central which has 17% of the state’s voting capabilities.
However, the numbers of eligible party members preference for Ize-Iyamu is growing rapidly in Edo North with indications that this is further shrinking the 19% political support which Obaseki is projected to have garnered in Edo North. Most respondents said the APC governorship primaries in Edo North represents an epic battle between Oshiomhole and Obaseki with the former deploying Senator Francis Alimikhena, Julius Ihonvbere, Pally Iriase, Pastor Peter Obadan, Abdul Oroh, Clem Agba, Ken Ihensekhi, Taiwo Akerele, Abubakar Momoh, etc to teach a youthful Philip Shaibu, the deputy governor of Edo State a political lesson of his life by ensuring he is defeated even in his own polling unit at the APC primary.
It is not clear if Obaseki would be able to make up for the massive political lost in Edo North with his projected 62% lead in Edo Central which accounts for 17% of the voting population against North’s 25% where Ize-Iyamu is leading massively with about 79% political support base, and this is estimated to soar further in the coming days going by latest political developments.
In Edo South with a projected voting strength of 58% of the state’s voting capabilities, the dynamics are tough with intrigues, horse- trading and political oscillation escalating at all time high. Here in Edo South Senatorial zone, where both Governor Obaseki and his main challenger, Pastor Ize-Iyamu hail from, the interplay of factors are like twists and turns with interests and preferences ebbing and surging among sampled eligible APC members and voters for the APC primaries.
In Oredo LGA, for instance, supporters of Governor Obaseki and Pastor Ize-Iyamu are projected to fight bumper-to-bumper just as Obaseki is projected to lead with very massive and undisputed political support preference in Ikpoba-Okha LGA which is densely populated like Oredo. Going by NPC figures, Ikpoba-Okha has 487,400 population figures. The key factor that seems to be shaping eligible party members preference here is that some key allies of Governor Obaseki like Osaradion Ogie, Matthew Iduruyikemwen, etc who hail from this LGA are tilting the political game in the Governor’s favour in Ikpoba-Okha.
But that seems not to be the case in Oredo which is the largest LGA in Edo state with statistical population of 490,600(Going by NPC figures). In Oredo, both Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Governor Obaseki are fighting neck-to-neck as their die-hard loyalists and supporters engage in ferocious war that have left sampled party members swinging back and forth. On Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s side are Major- Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, a former governorship aspirant who stepped down for Ize-Iyamu and have reportedly asked all his allies and foot soldiers to work for Ize-Iyamu; former deputy governor Lucky Imasuen, Tony Kabaka, whose hotel was demolished for allegedly breaching state building permit laws, among others. On Obaseki’s side, are former governor Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Senator Uzamare who are equally determined to tilt the political balance in Obaskei’s favour. Also, Governor Obaseki himself is from this LGA which makes the battle more fierce. The home base factor is projected to play a role here strongly in his favour.
Some respondents however told our reporters field team in Oredo that Papa Oyegun who is solidly behind the Governor is old, and he has often time lost in his own polling unit in previous elections with the result that he doesn’t seem to command that grassroots mobilization skills and prowess of a Gen Airhiavbere, Lucky Imasuen, Tony Kabaka, and other younger folks that are with Ize-Iyamu in Oredo politics. Field reports indicate that Oredo is oscillating back and forth with the result that if the primary were held TODAY, the projections point to a too-close-to-call race.
Not-withstanding on-going acrimonious campaigns and fierce political war including raging litigations between supporters of the two leading front-runners, The New Diplomat’s sampled field polls tracking data revealed that in the 18 LGAs in Edo State, if the primaries are held today, Ize-Iyamu is estimated to lead with a 59% political support while Obaseki would garner 39% of total political support. Some of the dynamics likely to shape the primary appear to central around the fact that there are very strong coalition of political groupings behind Pastor Ize-Iyamu. The consequence is that Governor Obaseki is running against a coalition of strong political forces that seem to control about 80% of the political structure in Edo state who feel unhappy with the Governor, including Oshiomhole himself.
In Orhionmwon LGA where Pastor Ize-Iyamu comes from, sampled field data show that Ize-Iyamu is teeing away massively with projected landslide political support. Orhionmwon has an estimated 241,000 population figures going by NPC statistics. Majority of the sampled respondents said they are solidly behind Ize-Iyamu. Said one respondent in an interview: “ Pastor(Pastor Ize-Iyamu) has always won all elections in Orhionmwon. So we are solidly behind him. In fact, we the natives said he doesn’t need to mobilize anyone here. We are firmly behind him 100%.” Similarly, both Ovia South-West and Ovia North-East LGAs are said to be rooting strongly for Ize-Iyamu while Egor, the third largest LGA in Edo State is equally tilting massively towards Ize-Iyamu. It is not clear what Governor Obaseki’s supporters are doing to diminish this overwhelming support base for Ize-Iyamu in Egor but from field reports, the later is projected to lead massively with political support base in Egor.
However, those strongly backing Governor Obaseki including Senator Uzamere, Peter Esele, Senator Domingo Obende, Philip Shaibu, Hon Kabiru Adjoto, Matthew Iduruyikemwen (though he has picked a form, sources in Benin City told our correspondents that he interested in negotiating a political deal for himself in the raging turbulence), Osaro Obazee, John Odigie-Oyegun, Charles Idahosa and Osaradion Ogie are also not letting things to chance as they are fighting back with all political arsenals at their disposal.
However, to overwhelm Ize-Iyamu, the Governor’s team would have to work hard to mitigate the soaring leads from Ize-Iyamu in Edo North, and up their political game in Edo South to close the gaps. On Ize-Iyamu’s own part, for him to consolidate, his men would need to sustain leads in Edo South, and hold strongly to his massive majority political support base in Edo North. Edo South remains very decisive!
How the Survey was conducted…
A total of 3,600 questionnaires distributed randomly with determined numbers administered on registered voters and APC members, to sample their preferences across the 18 local government councils in Edo State with a distribution pattern of 200 per LGA. Our Poll Trackers then proceeded to gather, aggregate and analyze the sampled respondents data and match same with their preferences among the contenders and ascertain factors driving their preferences . However, on the whole, the APC primary promises to be a terrific war with swings back and forth between supporters of Governor Obaseki and Pastor Ize-Iyamu.