Ahead of the build up to party primaries for tickets, among the All Progressive Congress, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP aspirants vying for National Assembly seats intensify underground lobby for tickets. PATRICK OCHOGA writes on the chances of aspirants.
Senator Frank Alimikhena, (APC), is the incumbent national assembly member representing Edo north senatorial district. The retired military officer in 2015 defeated Hon Pascal Ugbome (PDP) at the senatorial election. He emerged the APC candidate in 2015 at their primaries.
Alimikhena then enjoyed the strong support of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who was then the governor of the state. Prof Julius Ihonvbere , his main challenger who was said to be favoured for the ticket lost out to high-wired Edo North politics.
Today, Prof Ihonvbere, ( Owan West local government) appears to be the sort after bride for the APC ticket for Edo north senatorial district. If rotation of political powers among the three local governments that constitute Etsako is anything to go by then he is home and dry.
Etsako West, East and Central have the like of the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, Edo state deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, Hon Johnson Oghuma, (House of rep member). While Akoko-Edo has Hon Peter Akpatason (House of Representative).
Ihonvbere, a renowned political scientist hails from Owan West local government area and the only council that has not had the opportunity to produce a senator for Edo north senatorial district.
Besides, his posters adorned every available space in the senatorial district. He is said to enjoy tacit support of the national chairman of the party and governor Obaseki as a replacement for incumbent senator.
Alimikhena’s camp has been hit with rumours of his likely defection to the opposition PDP. An allegation he has repeatedly denied.
House of representatives members from Edo north includes, the Deputy whip, Hon Pally Iriase, (APC Owan federal Constituency), Hon Peter Akpatason ,(APC Akoko Edo federal Constituency) and Hon Johnson Oghuma,( APC Etsako federal Constituency). Oghuma major challenger is Blessing Agbomhere, (PDP).
Of the three house of representative members, Iriase and Akpatson are the most experienced lawmakers with track records. They are currently in their second term. It is however not clear if the party arrangement may support their rumoured ambition to seek third term ticket. Hon Pally Iriase is however under pressure to seek return ticket for third term.
Iriase, is the highest ranking APC member in the house of representatives from the South-South geo-political zone. Analysts are of the view that if given the party’s ticket, he may be well positioned for the Speakership which is presently occupied by Hon Yakubu Dogara, from the North.
As a principal officer of the house his return will be an advantage to the state and the country. However, the parliamentarian has maintained silence over his future political ambition.
Edo Central senatorial districts is a battle ground for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in the state. It is a zone considered to be a no go area for the APC. The district parades of political heavy weights such as former Board of Trustee of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, former minister of works, Hon Mike Onolemenmen, former minister of Foreign Affair, Chief Tom Ikimi, Senator Odion Ugbesia and a host of others. In the 2015 general elections, the PDP over ran the APC to sweep all the House of Representatives and senate seat. The senate seat was won by Senator Clifford Ordia, while Hon Joe Odionwele, (Esan Central /Igueben Constituency) and Hon Seigus Ogun won the (Esan South East/ Esan North East constituency)
Hon Joe Okojie, (APC), Theophilus Okoh, (APC), Francis Inegbeniki, (APC) and Hon Patrick Ikharale, (APC) are said to battle for the senatorial ticket to contest against any candidate the PDP will present.
Theophilus Okoh, according to an insider is favoured to fly the APC senatorial ticket. He is said to be at home with leaders of the party and Governor Godwin Obaseki. He has contested for the party’s ticket thrice and lost. Despite losing in the high power political intrigues for the ticket in the past he has remained loyal and committed to the party.
Hon Felix Akhabue (APC), Hon Joseph Ikpea, (APC), (Esan South East/Esan North East), Hon Victor Edoror,(APC) are house of representative ticket hopefuls.
Akhabue, decamped from the PDP to pitch tent with the ruling APC. He was a former Council Chairman of Esan West local government and ALGON chairman. It is rumoured that he may contest for the Esan West, Esan Central/Igueben federal constituency. He is a grassroot politician and mobiliser. Some watchers believe that if given the APC flag he may defeat the incumbent, Hon Joe Odionwele, (PDP). However Akhabue’s nightmare is said to be the former speaker of the Edo state house of assembly, Hon Victor Edoror, (APC). Edoror is vying to the contest for the party’s ticket for Esan Central/Igueben Constituency) as well.
Edo South senatorial district unarguably is the largest and the most populated in terms of voting strength. The zone is said to control 56 percent of the total voting population in the state. The zone like the two other senatorial districts prior to the coming of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole was under the grip of the PDP.
Oshiomole‘s political sagacity and doggedness changed the political dominance by the PDP. From 2008 under the defunct Action Congress, AC, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and now APC. The APC had maintained it griped over the national assembly seats under the then watch of Oshiomole.
In 2015, PDP took the APC by surprise when it won majority of the national assembly seats. Senator Mathew Urhoghide, (PDP), Hon Omosede Igbinedion, (Ovia federal Constituency) Hon Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma,(PDP) now APC (Egor/Ikpoba Okha federal Constituency), Hon Ogbeide Ihama, (PDP Oredo federal Constituency). However, Hon Patrick Aisowere, (APC), won one constituency, (Uhumwonde/Orhiomwon federal Constituency seat).
However, ahead of the 2019 general elections, the APC is determined to line up its best against the PDP candidates. Former house of representative member and a close ally the APC national chairman, Hon Patrick Obahiagbon is favoured to clinch the APC ticket to contest Edo South senatorial seat.
It is however not clear if Senator Urhoghide may be allowed to seek ticket for his return bid by some powerful forces within his party. Leaders of his party are said to be unhappy with him for abandoning them after winning the 2015 election to the senate. He is alleged to be quietly negotiating his way back to the APC.
In Ovia federal Constituency, represented by Hon Omosede Igbinedion is likely to pick his party’s return ticket on a platter of gold to the green chambers owing to the political influence of his father, the Esama of Benin Kingdom Chief Gabriel Igbinedion.
However, a former Commissioner on Investment in the state, Hon Dennis Idahosa, (APC Ovia federal Constituency), a staunch backer and financier of the party in state is said be positioned to fly the party’s ticket. Idahosa financial war-chest and grass-root support is considered a strong factor.
The member representing Egor/Ikpoba Okha federal Constituency, Hon Johnson Agbonayinma, (APC Egor/Ikpoba Okha federal constituency) may face herculean task for his return bid. He dumped the PDP early this year for the APC, following the leadership crisis that rocked the PDP then. Agbonayinma is likely to slug it out with Hon Crosby Eribo, a member of the Edo state house of assembly is said to be oiling his political structure in the constituency to contest the house of rep ticket.
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