All is set for tomorrow’s Estako Federal Constituency by-election in Edo State for the seat vacated by Philip Shaibu, who emerged as the deputy governor, following the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in September 28,2016 governorship election. A total of six political parties are fielding candidates for the by-election. Shaibu won the seat on APC platform during the 2015 general elections.
The parties vying for the seat are the Action Congress for Democrats (ACD), the African Democratic Congress (ADC), the APC, the Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The six candidates, according to the list released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), are: Ratitu Sule (ACD), Miminu Aliu (ADC), Johnson Oghuma (APC), Promise Mamoud (MPPP), Aishat Abu (NNPP) and Comrade Jude Imagwe (PDP).
But, from all indications, the ruling APC and the major opposition party, the PDP, are likely to renew their rivalry at the by-election. Both parties are expected to struggle for votes in the three local government areas that made up the constituency: Estako East, Estako West and Estako Central.
The two parties have been campaigning vigorously in the three local government areas. Leading the PDP is its state chairman, Chief Dan Orbih. Other leaders of the party are:Chief Raymond Dokpesi,Pascal Ugbome, Emmanuel Momoh, former Chief of Staff to ex- President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe among others.
At one of such rallies, Orbih urged the people not to vote for the APC candidate, “because his eight years in the House of Assembly was a waste to Etsako Central constituency”. He described the PDP standard bearer in the election, Imagwe, as an upright, capable and vibrant young man who is poised to give quality representation to the constituency. The PDP chairman told the electorate that a vote for his party would bring integrity, unity and growth to the constituency.
Governor Godwin Obaseki led the APC campaign for the election. Other leaders of the APC in Estako are: former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Senator Francis Alimekhena, the Deputy Governor, Shaibu and Usman Shagadi.
At the party’s rallies, Obaseki told the people that his administration has concluded plans to build a seaport at Agenebode, the headquarters of Estako East Local Government, with a view to fast track economic activities and create employment opportunities for the people.
Obaseki urged the people to repeat theAPC in last year’s governorship election and that his administration was committed to the sustenance of the growth started by the Oshiohmole’s administration.
He said: “As you voted me and Philip (Shaibu) during the governorship election, I implore you all, our great supporters, to vote for our candidate. The party has made the right choice of candidate to fly its flag and I have no doubt that the APC will win the coveted federal seat.”
Going by the result of the last governorship, the APC appears to have an upper hand in tomorrow’s contest. Political analysts have attributed the victory of the APC in the area during the last governorship election to the voting pattern of the people of Estako West, where both Oshiomhole and Shaibu hail from. The PDP candidate in the by-election hails from Estako East, while his APC counterpart (Oghuma) hails from Estako Central. Any candidate with the highest number of votes from Estako West will surely win the election. This is because Estako West has the highest number of registered voters in the federal constituency, compared to the other two local governments.
The constituency has a total of 252,110 registered voters. Estako West has the largest voting population with 140,366 voters. Estako East has a voting population of 68,080. Estako Central has 43,664 voters.
Some analysts are of the view that it would not be an easy victory for the APC, unlike in last year’s governorship election.This, they said, is because Imagwe is popular among the youths in the locality. In the 2015 general elections, it was votes from Estako West that gave both Shaibu and Alimekhena victory, as the PDP won in both Estako East and Estako Central. In the governorship election, the APC had 57,650 votes from the three local governments.The PDP scored 32,222 votes.
Imagwe described himself as the representative of youths in the constituency. He is just 38 years old; unlike his opponent, who is 56. Imagwe was a former President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and a former Senior Special Assistant to former President Jonathan. At the campaigns, he said his victory would bring even growth, peace and unity to Etsako people.
He promised to provide employment opportunities for the youths, educational scholarship for students, as well as skills acquisition for the army of unemployed youths.
He added: “The period of poor representation of Estako at the National Assembly is over. We will attract development. We will make sure we have a perfect skill acquisition centre to create employment opportunities for our youths. I am going there to represent everybody.”
At the primary.
He promised to continue from where Shaibu stopped at the National Assembly. He said his previous achievements would secure victory for him.
As part of its preparedness for the election, INEC said it has recruited and trained 1,622 ad hoc workers including members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). It said sensitive election materials would be deployed to the three local government areas today.
The commission’s Administrative Secretary, Mr. Oscar Lee-Amaechi, who spoke to EDOCONNECT, said INEC was ready to conduct the election.He added that it would be peaceful and transparent. He said voting and accreditation will be done simultaneously, as in previous election and that materials will be deployed to polling centres on time.