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

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Toluwani Eniola

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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