It was noon. Dateline: 6th of October, 2016. The joy that pervades the premises of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was unusual – the entire stretch of Akpakpava-Ikpoba Slope and flowing towards Ikpoba Hill was flooded with tons of thousands of jubilant crowd awaiting the winner of Edo State September 28th governorship election – Mr. Godwin Obaseki and his Deputy, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu who had arrived to received their certificates of return.
National Commissioner of INEC in charge of South South zone, Dr. Mustapha Lecky, who presented the certificates said the presentation was in accordance with the Electoral Act as amended and that the commission would continue to improve on the electoral process with a view to deepening democracy in the country.
He said INEC would also improve on the use of card readers as according to him, the device has helped to eliminate multiple voting and election rigging.
State Resident Commissioner, Mr. Sam Olumekun, said an inconclusive election in Edo State would have led to crisis in the state as the commission would have to grapple within two weeks to conduct another election.
Olumekun said he was grateful that the election has been adjudged free, fair and credible.
Obaseki in his speech said he joined the race to expand the political space with a clear vision of what to achieve.
He said he focused on issues that affect the people and ran his campaigns professionally.
The governor-elect noted that the protests against the election results were sponsored as the people of the state were happy with the conduct.
He said his victory has proven that campaigns could be run professionally without having to lie to get people’s votes.
However, suddenly after the ceremony was conducted, the winners pounded the streets of Benin. And the modern-ancient city was soon lighted up – both men stood aback of a moving SUV with a thick bunch of broom heading southwards Oba Ovonramwen Square – from the state INEC headquarters and surveyed what he had wrought – sweet victory.
They waved their brooms intermittently to the crowd – wishing them well and expressing their gratitude.
On both sides of the Federal Road, Aduwawa southward Akpakpava through KingSquare, were a couple of thousand people clustered – in the street, on the sidewalks, on stoops, on balconies, sitting atop vehicles, hanging vehicles doors ajar and brandishing the broom vigorously – escorting the winners of the 2016 gubernatorial elections in the state.
And when the newly announced Governor and Deputy rode by, not a few hundreds of residents abandoned their homes to the streets, surrounding his convoy, taking pictures, reaching for handshakes – news of his victory had spiraled into town from the Northern end downtown, signaling the conclusion of an assignment proudly conducted by INEC.
The congregation was spontaneous – large-scale eruptions of crowd – exceedingly frenzied with cheers even from familiar faces of sympathetic PDP chieftains. The trek from the North to the South was great just as thick was the crowd that a pin thrown into it would hardly touch ground but not without a space for the historic Obaseki and Shaibu; they made their way through the organized crowd as people posed for selfies with sea of fans as a backdrop.
For about six hours, police officers had hectic day helping to organize the cult-like following of Obaseki and Shaibu.
The story of this vintage headliners – Obaseki and Shaibu cannot be summarized without the behavior of the weather which never decimated – clement. Benin, the city of the Omo N Oba N Edo was present.