Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirants have started mobilising ahead of next year’s poll. Correspondent OSAGIE OTABOR writes on the scramble for the ticket.
No fewer than 10 governorship aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) in Edo State have started mobilising ahead of the next year’s poll.
The party has not zoned the ticket. But, it is not unlikely that it may be zoned to Edo South because of its huge voting population and to give the All Progressives Congress a tough fight. But, Edo Central PDP leaders are not giving up in their quest to see that the candidate comes from the zone. In 2016, the PDP picked Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who hails from Edo South, and the election was fiercely contested.
Those in the race for the PDP are Kenneth Imasuangbon, known as ‘Rice Man’, Gideon Ikhine, former Minister for Works Mike Onolememen, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Senator Matthew Urhoghide and Pastor Ize-Iyamu.
The contest for the PDP ticket, as it seems, would be between aspirants from Edo South and Edo Central senatorial districts.
Sources said Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Senator Matthew Urhoghide have not declared interest. They are still consulting. Pastor Ize-Iyamu was the candidate in 2016. Until recently, he was still being referred to as the PDP’s governorship candidate. He has not spoken about his political future. but, sources said he may not contest because of the sour relationship between himself and Chief Orbih. Another source said the fall out of the supremacy battle between Comrade Adam’s Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki may spur Pastor Ize-Iyamu to join in the race.
Onolememen was eyeing the seat while serving as Minister. He was the leading contender, but he lost interest when the PDP lost power in 2015 to the APC. He has not been visible in the political scene. He is yet to declare intention, but sources closed to him said he is still consulting.
The interest of Gideon Ikhine in the race showed how serious politicians from Edo Central are buying into the Esan agenda in the PDP. Gideon is a PDP chieftain from Esan West. He is a businessman with interest in the oil and gas sector. Some PDP stalwarts said his vast network within the PDP may work as an advantage for him. He is holding wide consultation to convince delegates on why he is the right man for the job. A close ally said Gideon would approach the campaign with a message of hope to the common man.
According to the source, “Gideon was the first in Edo Central to declare intention to run for the governorship because there is not time politicians will say it is the turn of Edo Central. He wants to restore the heritage and old landmark and give hope to the hopeless.
“Gideon wants a state where everybody will be equal by giving back to the poor. By the time he unveils his program, the people will know he is the right man for the job. He want to see through the challenges first as the Esans are already speaking with one voice.”
Ogbeide-Ihama is said to be the bride of Chief Orbih. His victory at the National Assembly polls when he won an election in the constituency of Governor Obaseki endeared him to PDP leaders in Edo South and Edo North. His inability to win any seat in the House of Assembly is an albatross on his candidacy. His chances would be high if Pastor Ize-Iyamu declines to contest.
Imasuangbon has eyeing the number one position since 2007. He has supporters across the state due to his philanthropic activities. He distributes rice annually to the needy, organises quiz competitions where iPads and cash gifts are given to deserving students. In 2007, Imasuangbon was among the financiers of the defunct Action Congress (AC). He contributed to the provision of a secretariat for the party and he was among the leading candidates when he was asked to step down for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Imasuangbon later defected to the PDP and gave life to the then comatose party. He contested for the governorship in 2011, but lost at the primary to General Charles Airhiavbere. In 2016, Imasuangbon defected to the APC and contested again. He was among the aspirants that lost to Obaseki.
Imasuangbon has declared intention to run again in 2020 under the PDP. He joined the PDP ahead of the 2019 general elections to support the presidential bid of Governor Aminu Tambuwal. His chances of clinching the PDP ticket are high as he may be able to convince party delegates.
A leader of PDP in Esan South East, Ernest Oseghale, said Edo Central should be supported to produce Imasuangbon as the next governor. Oseghale said the aspirant has contributed to the growth of the PDP and has the capacity to lead the party to victory.
Another source, who craved anonymity said, “If a Benin man is a governor the Esan man should be happy because they are all one and so if an Esan man is the governor is the same as well. Look at when Esan man was the governor he legacies are were remarkable and visible even in Edo South.
“It is also important to also remind our people that the constitution of our party goes against discrimination. The governor of Edo can come from nay where. What is important is if the person has the mental sagacity to lead the people. If you ask me, I think it is only fair in the spirit of justice and equity that the people of Edo Central should be given the opportunity and chance to fly the PDP flag come 2020 governorship election.”
However, some stakeholders in the PDP are already strategizing to sack the Orbih-led executives ahead of the primary to pave way for a particular candidate to emerge. The stakeholders have threatened to institute a legal action, if the national leadership of the party fails to dissolve the state executive and conduct fresh congresses.
Former Vice Chairman of Ikpoba-Okha local government area Jeffrey Osamede Edorodion, who spoke on behalf of the stakeholders, said they want the national leadership to carry out the dissolution before the conduct of the 2020 election in the state, to maintain party cohesion, peace and unity.
Edorodion said the Orbih-led state executive has served the mandatory eight years of two terms provided for in the party’s constitution.
He said: “There is nothing like tenure elongation in our party. The constitution allows a maximum eight years tenure and minimum four years. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo tried tenure elongation but he failed. If he failed why will a state chairman of the party try it and succeed?
“The present chairman has been in the office since 2009 after the death of former Chairman,. He was brought him to complete that tenure;thereafter he has been elected consecutively for two terms, in line with our Constitution.”
At a meeting of PDP leaders held at the residence of Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Bénin Kingdom, Orbih said his tenure would end on March 14, 2020 and that he was prepared to step aside.
Orbih informed the gathering that five persons have indicated interest to contest for the party’s ticket and urged them to to go about their campaigns in orderly manner.