NATIONAL leaders of Nigeria’s All Progressives Congress (APC) have stepped up the pressure on their Edo State gubernatorial candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to accept the result of last Saturday’s elections and concede defeat to Governor Godwin Obaseki.
On Saturday Edo State went to the polls to elect a new governor in what was a bitter contest between the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Incumbent Governor Obaseki was originally elected on the APC platform in 2016 but after falling out with former party chairman Adams Oshiomhole, leading to the party selecting Pastor Ize-Iyamu as its candidate, he decamped to the opposition PDP.
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec), declared Governor Obaseki the winner of the elections on Sunday morning with 307,955 votes to Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s 223,619 votes. Governor Obaseki won in 13 of the 18 local government areas of Edo State, receiving 59% of the vote.
President Muhammadu Buhari has already conceded defeat, accepting that his APC lost the election, congratulating Governor Obaseki. However, the local chapter of the APC in Edo State has refused to sheath its sword, accusing Governor Obaseki of manipulating Saturday’s elections.
Yesterday, Pastor Ize-Iyamu met yesterday with the chairman of the APC’s caretaker/extra-ordinary national convention planning committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello. Their meeting at the Abuja residence of Governor Buni was the first public outing of Pastor Ize-Iyamu since he lost the governorship election.
Although the agenda of the meeting was not disclosed, one source privy to the meeting said it was part of the efforts to persuade Pastor Ize-Iyamu to accept the outcome of the election. Before the meeting, the APC leadership had through a statement signed by Governor Buni congratulated Governor Obaseki.
Also, Mr Oshiomhole posted a video yesterday stating that contrary to the belief by certain persons that the loss at the poll had made him downcast, he was still up and well. He urged his supporters not to lose faith in Nigeria, noting that his faith in God remains unshaken, pointing out that no matter the outcome of the election, the country must continue to strengthen the democratic process.
Mr Oshiomhole lauded the Edo people for their perseverance in the rain and in the sun during the hectic campaigns, saying he was inspired by the actions of both his young and old supporters. However, the APC’s Edo State Governorship Campaign Council has rejected the olive branch extended to it by Governor Obaseki, describing the gesture as a tricky one aimed at deceiving the people that he is a democrat.