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Monday, 26 September 2016

Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu’s wives take battle to voters

Ahead of Wednesday’s governorship poll in Edo State, the expectation is not all about who becomes the next governor of the state.  For residents in the state, especially women, the expectation is also about, who among the wives of the candidates would call the shots at the Edo Government House located along Dennis Osadebe Avenue, from May 29, 2017.

Two women to watch out for are Mrs. Betsy Obaseki and Mrs. Idia Ize-Iyamu, wives of the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki, and his Peoples Democratic Party’s counterpart, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, respectively.

Betsy and Idia have raised the bar for governorship poll in Edo. They have not only gone with their husbands to political rallies, they have also delivered speeches and outlined the programmes that would be executed by their husbands. This new dimension in Edo governorship politics has made the campaigns interesting to watch.

Both candidates’ wives have turned to crowd-pullers with their powerful oratorical skills and compelling speeches, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Although the election is two days away, both women are not leaving anything to chance in their quests to ensure victory for their spouses, and take the baton from Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s wife, Iara.

Although Betsy and Idia are a study in contrast,

To say that Betsy and Idia are different personalities is to state the obvious. However, both share some similarities that their supporters have turned into campaign issues. One of such issues is their educational backgrounds. This has made the Edo political landscape more interesting. Since the campaigns started, the supporters of the APC and those of the PDP have engaged in a war of words on the social media as they compared both women’s attributes.

An Edo indigene wrote on Twitter, “Dr. Idia Ize-Iyamu will beat Iara Oshiomhole and Mrs. Obaseki together in a beauty and brain contest, anytime, anywhere.”

For her donations to the underprivileged in Edo State, another Twitter user, Chris Osa, described Obaseki’s wife as “generous Mrs. Obaseki.”

Their professional careers have also left voters puzzled on which of them would be better as governor’s wife. Idia, mother of four, is an Associate Professor and Consultant Orthodontist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Idia is also a pastor like her husband.

Betsy, on the other hand, is an accountant. She is the Managing Director/CEO, BOI Investment and Trust Company Limited. She served and rose to the position of Assistant General Manager and Head, Strategic Planning in the Bank of Industry Limited. She obtained a BSc and MSc in Accounting from the University of Lagos. She is also an alumnus of the Kellog School of Business Executive Management Programme, US.

The UNILAG-trained accountant seems to have a grasp of politics; during the campaigns, she abandoned the Queen’s English and adopted the pidgin English to woo voters.

She said in a radio campaign jingle, “Edo people, I salute una o. My name na Betsy Obaseki. I be the wife of una pikin, Godwin Obaseki. We all know say na we women dey make country strong and better because of the position wey God give us. Na how life go take better for everybody na im my husband ready for do. E ready to give work to many of our pikin dem wey don reach to work. Make una vote for my husband.”

Idia Ize-Iyamu too adopted unconventional methods to campaign for her husband. Although a pastor, she surprised observers recently when she visited some mosques in Benin to celebrate the Eid-el-Kabir festival with Muslims. The photos she took on the visit trended on the social media and elicited positive reactions.

While Betsy promised to help widows and the underprivileged, Idia vowed to use her medical background to transform the health sector in the state.

But both women have not been left out of the controversies surrounding the Edo governorship poll. Sometimes, in their bids to win voters to their husbands’ sides, the opposite played out.

While campaigning for her husband, Betsy had made a comment which some Edo women considered awkward and uncalled for. She had blamed the PDP for the rise in prostitution in the state and human trafficking of Edo ladies to Italy.

In a swift reaction, a writer, Nosa Omorodion, penned an article titled, “Betsy Obaseki: The First Lady Edo people should not get,” to condemn her remarks, adding that she was distorting history.

The activist side of Idia Ize-Iyamu played out recently when her convoy was allegedly attacked by APC thugs in the market in the state.

In a video, the UNIBEN lecturer poured out her heart to condemn the attack. She said, “Are we not supposed to go to the market? Is it now a crime to be a woman in Edo State? Under this APC government, women have been marginalised. They are now been terrorised. So, if they can attack me, who is left out in this state? Behind me are the vehicles of PDP members that were destroyed.

“They have been beating up innocent women in the market. Is that the kind of government we will continue with? Is it a crime to check things in the market? So, we want to let the public know what is going on. There is freedom of movement in Edo State. We are not slaves. We are not slaves to the APC. We are supposed to be able to enter any market of our choice and buy what we like.”

So far, both women have contributed immensely to their husbands’ efforts, bringing fresh perspectives to the campaigns. They have revealed what many voters would not have known about the two major governorship candidates. The poser for Wednesday’s poll is: Whose husband would emerge Edo’s next governor? Would it be the husband of Betsy or that of Idia?

The time is nigh.

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