June 25, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Edo 2024 conundrum: Obaseki walks the mines field

ONLY weeks now to the governorship nominations primary elections in Edo State, several arrows are aiming at Gov. Godwin Obaseki for allegedly betraying the PDP groundwork which secured his terminal second term.
Chief strategist of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for that groundwork Nyesom Wike, among many others, is unhappy that Obaseki is fighting his deputy over succession.
Indeed, deputy governor Comrade Philip Shaibu has all but abandoned his proclivity to subservience to combativeness.
First, take a snipet from Shaibu: “Because I hate oppression, I staked my relationship (with former Gov. Adams Oshiomhole). That relationship, I lost about 20% of my political capital in Edo North to support Godwin Obaseki and in supporting him, even as deputy governor who does not have any line financially, through my friends and others, I supported the second term bid of the governor with my structure, all my vehicles and finances including how we got the ticket of PDP, I contributed financially.”
That would be the first time Shaibu is speaking disdainfully about Gov. Obaseki’s vehemence against his deputy’s aspiration to succeed him.
This Sunday, reports have emerged that Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Nyesom Wike, and vice-chairman (South-South) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Orbih, are waiting to extract their own pound of flesh from Obaseki, in next month’s governorship primaries of the party.
Wike, then governor of Rivers State, and Orbih played key roles in Obaseki’s emergence as PDP candidate, as well as ensured that he won the 2020 Edo governorship election despite stiff opposition from the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by its then Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Obaseki was disqualified by the APC from participating in its primary election but went to the PDP, where he was accommodated and allowed to run on the party’s platform. He even admitted that PDP saved his political career.
But, no sooner had he secured his second term than he turned his back on the people that assisted him.
Wike in 2022 accused Obaseki of ingratitude and betrayal, saying: “If you check the DNA of Obaseki, what you will see in that DNA is betrayal, serial betrayal, and ungratefulness.”
The governor is accused of breaching an agreement he reached with PDP leaders in Edo State before he was given the party’s ticket. His relationship with Orbih went sour over the control of PDP structure.
The party’s structure in Edo State is at moment factionalised between him and Orbih. In the last general elections, Obaseki’s preferred candidates emerged as PDP flag-bearers in the national and state assembly elections and the party performed abysmally poor in the elections.
Out of the three senatorial seats in Edo State, the APC won two, Labour Party (LP) won one while the PDP was left with nothing. It won a paltry two out of nine House of Representatives seats.
The party’s only consolatory prize in last year’s general elections was in the March 18 state assembly elections, where it secured 50 per cent of the seats.
The poor performance of PDP in the general elections is blamed on anti-party activities by some of its leaders, who allegedly worked against it in protest over the emergence of Obaseki’s candidates as flag-bearers.
This year’s governorship provides another opportunity for the two groups to test their might once again. About six aspirants have so far obtained the PDP’s ‘expression of interest” form, which will qualify them to go for the nomination form, if they scale through the screening process.
Among those who obtained the Expression of Interest form last week are Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, Asue Ighodalo, who is believed to be Obaseki’s choice for the ticket, and Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, currently member of the House of Representatives, among others.
Ogbeide-Ihama was primed to be the PDP governorship candidate in 2020 but for the coming of Obaseki to the party.
A source in the know now says that there are pressures on the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) to disqualify Ighodalo on constitutional ground.
Ighodalo is said to be “a new person in PDP; he joined last year, so he is not qualified to contest.”
To qualify to contest election, the PDP constitution demands a new member to spend at least a year in the party unless given a waiver. The source argued that such has not been granted to Ighodalo.
“Waiver is given by the national (secretariat). State exco lacks power to grant waiver. Wike and Orbih are waiting for him (Obaseki) there.
“There are booby traps for him there. Wike and Orbih are not with Obaseki. All those who helped him to get second term are not in good terms with him.”
Although PDP says it has thrown its ticket open to all the three senatorial zones, there are indications that Obaseki would want his successor to come from Edo Central, which has not produced the governor of the state since the return of democracy in the country.
His decision not to support Shaibu, his deputy, is probably because he is from Edo-North, where his Obaseki’s predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole comes from.
Ighodalo is Esan in Edo-Central; his mother is Yoruba. A PDP panel will screen the aspirants, who obtained the expression of interest forms last week, and those who scale through will go for the nomination form.
However, another source at the party’s headquarters claims it would be unlikely for Ighodalo to be disqualified.
“Even if he does not spend the minimum period as a member by the constitution, the NWC can grant him a waiver, and let the delegates decide who becomes the candidate. It will not be healthy to create crisis in the party this time.”
It is not quite clear now who Wike and Orbih are supporting but one source suggests they are supporting Shaibu, with Ogbeide-Ihama as running mate.
Meanwhile, as more aspirants drop out of the race for the PDP ticket, a clearer picture of who the major contenders will be is beginning to emerge.
This is just as the opposition APC in the state has intensified the search for a consensus candidate ahead of party primaries that are expected to hold by February 24, 2024 according to the election schedule announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In a bid to ensure that Edo APC is united to take over the reign of power from the PDP, APC leaders entered into a marathon meeting in Abuja with all the governorship aspirants of the party in attendance at the weekend, aiming at producing a consensus candidate for the party.
The party had last week suspended the sale of governorship nomination and expression of interest forms and summoned a meeting of all aspirants.
It is reported that the issue of zoning and consensus candidate tops the agenda of the Abuja meeting.
Some of the prominent aspirants gunning for the APC ticket include, Sen. Monday Okpebholo, Hon. Dennis Idahosa, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Lucky Imansen, Prince Clem Agba and Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor.
Others are Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Prince Kassim Afegbua, Victor Eboigbe, Gideon Obhakhan and Col. David Imuse.
According to a report in a national newspaper today, a prominent Edo APC leader says the meeting among aspirants and other party leaders and stakeholders is to prevail on some of the aspirants to step down for a particular candidate from Edo-South senatorial district, a move it was learnt other aspirants from Edo-Central and North senatorial districts unanimously resist.
One source with first-hand knowledge of the horse trading says that, “What the leadership of the party is trying to do is to avoid implosion in the party after a flag-bearer emerges, because the party is determined to ensure that the APC takes over Osadebey Avenue.
“You know the party parades strong and credible aspirants from the three senatorial zones and we are also not unmindful of the sentiment and agitation among the people of Edo-Central senatorial district to produce Obaseki’s successor.
“Yes, our most respected leader of the party, Senator Adams Oshiomhole is expected to give direction and as loyal party members, we will align with him in order to ensure APC takes over power in Edo state. What is more important for us is to send the PDP packing.
It had previously been claimed that the PDP caucus of Edo-Central senatorial district had endorsed Dr. Asue Ighodalo, as its sole aspirant for the election for the September 21, 2024 election.
That report is said to have emanated from Edo-Central PDP special committee’s report, chairmed by Chief Tom Ikimi. The committee said the adoption of Ighodalo was without prejudice to the right of others.
However, other reports have emerged that a number of aspirants have already dropped out of the race as it becomes clear Ighodalo is the preferred candidate of Gov. Obaseki.
But Obaseki and his “preferred candidate” are headed on a collision course with Deputy Gov. Shaibu who remains defiant and insists on contesting for the PDP ticket.
Shaibu has started accusing the governor of playing godfather in Edo politics, a trend the people fought very hard to end.
Shaibu says in a statement signed on his behalf by his campaign office that, “We all agreed as a group to fight godfathers – even the governor pledged to fight godfatherism in the state, and said he should be dealt with if he turns around and attempts to play the role of a godfather.
“Because I hate oppression, I staked my relationship (with Oshiomhole). That relationship, I lost about 20% of my political capital in Edo-North to support Godwin Obaseki and in supporting him, even as deputy governor who does not have any line financially, through my friends and others, I supported the second term bid of the governor with my structure, all my vehicles and finances including how we got the ticket of PDP, I contributed financially.”
He emphasises that their shared focus remains serving the people and dismantling the influence of “godfathers” in Edo politics.