As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), last week ordered its office in Edo state to open for activities ahead of the state governorship election which is scheduled to take place on the 19th of September, MYKE UZENDU, in this write-up examines how PDP is tying all loose ends to secure victory at the polls.
The battle for the Edo state government house is gaining momentum following the declaration from The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the election will not be postponed even as Corona virus ravages the country.
It is presumed that the election for the next occupier of the Denis Osadebay Street Government House come September 11, 2020 will be a straight battle between the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
There was an earlier belief that the re-election of Governor Godwin Obaseki of the APC will be a very easy task, taking into cognizance the ‘federal might’ and power of incumbency. But this has become a herculean task, in view of the present face-off between the incumbent governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki and his godfather, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who incidentally is the National Chairman of APC, who has ensured that Obaseki is knocked down by the primary election huddle.
Already many stalwarts in the APC including Oshiomhole’s former deputy at the Edo gpovernmen House, Pius Odubu, Solomon Edebiri, Engr Christopher Ogiemwonyi, General Charles Airhiavbere (Rtd) Hon. Johnson Agbonyinma and APC new comer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, have indicated interest to slug it out with the incumbent Godwin Obaseki for the ruling party’s ticket, just as Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Kenneth Imasuagbon and Gideon Ikhine will square up from the PDP.
However, as the PDP has fixed June 23 for its governorship primary election the PDP family in Edo state seems now to be protected by a tattered umbrella following several discordant tunes, legal battles and internal wranglings that have greeted the party after its congresses.
Former Chairman of the party, Mr Dan Orbih, who was on the saddle for almost 11 years was accused of hijacking the primary election process. It was alleged that he smuggled a fake list of various ward executive members to the Ward Congress Committee led by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State. A few days after, an order of interim injunction was obtained at an Ekpoma High Court, restraining the party from recognizing the ward congress results.
Meanwhile Mr Oladele Bankole-Balogun from Akoko-Edo recently announced his withdrawal from active participation in all PDP activities in the state. He also blamed Orbih for the problems in the party, alleging that the former chairman was imposing his preferred candidates on the party.
He said, “I cannot continue to waste my time and money on a party where I do not see a hope in the future. I can tell you today that the PDP in Edo State has not learnt from its mistakes. The party is not united; we are divided and if you cannot provide a united front as a party, how can your candidates win any election? That was why I stepped aside.”
Some party stakeholders have also accused the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Prince Uche Secondus of deliberately sidelining Edo Central Senatorial District, which is the PDP’s stronghold in the state, from producing the next governor of the state, a decision that might affect the fortunes of the party.
Furthermore, former Chief of Staff to former Governor Lucky Igbinedion, Dr Isaiah Osifo, collaborated the fact that PDP state congresses in Edo state were characterized by irregularities which according to him could affect the party’s victory at the polls.
According to Osifo, “Many people, have complained that they are not satisfied with the conduct of the ward, local government and state congresses. I saw for myself too that the congresses in some wards were not credible, and I equally saw that there were some local government areas where the congresses were not transparent.
“I was also a state delegate and I saw that there were some lapses in the conduct of the state congress but, in all, I expect the leadership of the party not to go and sit down but to try and address these grievances in the interest of the party”.
But the former Edo state chairman of the party has expressed confidence that the party will win the next governorship election in Edo.
According to Orbih, “Those who want to run for governorship who are crying wolf where there is none, my advice is that they should concentrate on selling their programmes and what they intend to do if they get the ticket of the party. I will not even be the chairman of the party by the time we do the primary election to elect the party’s governorship candidate. So, let them sell themselves to the party leaders and members and I believe my one vote alone cannot decide who gets the ticket.”
Also responding to the allegation that he was imposing his choice candidates on the party, Orbih said, “I was not directly involved in the conduct of congress that will bring in a new executive of the party, the National Working Committee is the one bringing people to conduct this exercise. I will be entitled to only one vote and I will exercise it to the best of my conviction”.
There are also further allegations that Orbih had already struck a deal with the incumbent governor Obaseki to weaken the party so that his re-election will be a smooth sail or even emerge as the consensus candidate of the PDP if his primary election under APC hits the rock. It is also alleged that it was this deal that forced Ize-Iyamu out of PDP after he had obtained a favourable node from the APC Chairman and the National leader Bola Tinubu that he will be the replacement for Obaseki.
The sudden return of Imasuagbon also known as the “Rice man” to the PDP and the constitutional hurdle that may hinder his governorship aspiration is another factor that has affected the cohesion in PDP. There are allegations that Imasuagbon is time barred from seeking for governorship elections while the party’s leadership is making efforts to give him a waiver.
Speaking on the issues as well as the preparedness of PDP to engage in competitive gubernatorial poll on September 19, the state chairman, Aziegbemi said, “We assure our aspirants of level playfield. The party will make sure that the primary would be credible, free and fair. The issue of waiver is provided in PDP’s constitution, but that is beyond the state chapter. I don’t think Imasuagbon needs a waiver, he has been with us for more than one year.”
However, a prominent member of the party who did not want to be quoted confirmed to The AUTHORITY that some PDP leaders are secretly working to ensure that Ize-Iyamu does not emerge as the flag bearer of the APC let alone win the election.
He said, “All our stake holders are in agreement to work against Ize-Iyamu since he could abandon the party despite all the favours he had enjoyed. For now, we are joining forces with Obaseki to ensure that he wins the primary”.
Now that the governorship election is approaching, many believe that though the PDP in Edo has bright chances of returning to the Government House, the opposition party may not be able to take over because of unresolved internal crises.
It is believed that the coast is clearer now for the party to cash on the gully created by the Obaseki – Oshiomhole chasm and sail to the government house.
But as it stands, there are more pointers that PDP is keen at frustrating Oshiomhole from getting a successor to the government house than it is in winning the election.