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Obaseki, Oshiomhole’s Rift Ignites Realignment In Edo

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As the build up to the Edo 2020 governorship race thickens, the cold war between Governor Obaseki and the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, is shaping struggle for the ruling party’s ticket, PATRICK OCHOGA, writes

It appears there is no end in the battle for the soul of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo state between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as political tension in the party continues to mount.

The situation in Edo APC, is obviously creating loopholes and opportunity for the main opposition party, PDP to build itself.

The PDP made an impressive outing especially in Edo South senatorial district in the last general elections and is however optimistic that the internal wrangling and division within APC is all that is needed for the main opposition party to stage an upset in the 2020 governorship election in the state.

As stakeholders and would be aspirants for the number one seat in the state are oiling their political machinery it was learnt that one major hurdles that may threaten the chances of PDP is to field unpopular candidate or skewed its primary.

For the PDP, former governorship aspirants and educationist, Ken Imansuagbon, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Senator Mathew Uroghide, Hon Ogbeide Ihama, former minister of works, Architect Mike Onolemenmen are said to be eyeing Obaseki’s job.

While in APC, former minister of state for Works, Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, former deputy governor Pius Odubu, and Gen Charles Airhiavhere are jostling to contest the APC party primaries against incumbent governor Godwin Obaseki.

Though, the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to announce dates of activities for next year’s governorship election in Edo State political tension is mounting by the day in what some political observers view as unhealthy and capable of distracting Obaseki from governance.

It was however, learnt that supporters  including Edo state PDP leaders, women groups, civil societies  and business associates have visited the palatial resident  of Barrister Ken Imansuagbon, popularly known as the ‘Rice Man’ to mount pressure on him to contest the 2020 governorship.

The philanthropist according to source is quietly reaching and consulting with relevant political stake holders in irrespective of party affiliation. He is consultation is  said to be creating ripples in political circle as his entrance is  getting nod from political gladiators in the state..

The Edo born politician on a yearly basis distributes rice to thousands of people during festive seasons. He also organizes annual quiz competitions for secondary school students across the state where he distributed i-pads and money to lucky winners. Medical bills for indigent patients are usually paid for especially those that were held back for inability to pay bills.

It was in 2007 that Imasuangbon first indicated interest to run to governorship under the defunct Action Congress. He helped to finance activities of the party which was in its formative years in the state including payment for secretariat and donation of chairs. The entrance of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole into the race made him to step down.

In March 2009, Imasuangbon left the AC and defected to a fractured PDP. The PDP then was in ruin as it was factionalised between those loyal to late Chief   Tony Anenih and late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia. Imasuangbon held a reconciliatory rally at Ewohinmi where he brought both leaders together to shake hands but the two leaders parted ways after the rally.

Imasuangbon contested the PDP primaries ahead of the 2012 governorship primaries but he lost to General Charles Airhiavbere by polling 178 votes. Other aspirants in the primaries including Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, Prof Oserheimen Osunbor and Matthew Iduoriyikemwen left the venue in protest. Imasuangbon rejected results of the primaries called it scientifically and environmentally rigging tailored by Chief Dan Orbih.

However, the only snag that may work against his chances is the issue of zoning but a PDP leader who craze anonymity said the popular politician (Imansuagbon) is ready and prepare to challenge the odds head on.

He pointed out that the PDP will be making yet another blunder if it goes ahead to give it ticket out to Edo South candidate based on zoning arrangement arguing that if it must zone then it is the turn of Edo central senatorial districts.

He said: “What PDP needs now is not to make the mistake of 2003, 2012, 2016. In 2003, ANPP fielded Roland Owie against Lucky Igbinedion and Lucky. He won because he was popular and was the incumbent. In 2012, PDP went for a majority tribe and picked Gen Charles Airhiahvere and Oshiomhole from a minority tribe, Oshiomhole won because he was popular.

“In 2015, the argument came up that you need the majority tribe to win Obaseki and in line with the argument, the party fielded popular Ize-Iyamu but unfortunately for Ize-Iyamu he was loved by the people and he was voted for but he lost to Obaseki. So looking at the  history, PDP must do the right thing and listen to the people. You can’t be doing the same thing over and over and expect different results?

“PDP must change tactics. Some people are saying PDP must change tactics from the old pattern, it must ensure free and fair congress that will produce free and fair Primaries and that will produce a popular and likable person rather than the old style of the godfather but thank God there is no godfather anymore in PDP”.

He further argued: “If you say you zone to a particular area you are limiting the voters. The moment PDP zone and it is not free and fair let them forget 2020 governorship because they are in the opposition and the people are watching. Even if they were to zone let it go to the Esan speaking that have not had the governorship for a long time.

“You see, the Benin’s are not tribalist, they want a man who can put food on the table of their children. For fairness, and equity it should be zone to Edo central. The national leadership under Secondus must ensure that we get it right with the primaries. This is the best chance for PDP especially with APC riddled with crisis, the people are fed up and that can be an advantage for the PDP”. He posited.

Another PDP leader and a former governorship of candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who contested the 2016 governorship election against governor Godwin Obaseki may contest for the ticket of the party.

Party sources in the PDP said the once admired and strategic politician is not in the good books of party leaders over the way and manner logistics for the 2019 general election was managed. Ize-Iyamu who enjoys a cult-like followership is also said to be working on some kind of alliance with governor Obaseki to retire Oshiomhole.

According to PDP source:  “I think what the party need right now is to begin to look at people who are interested in strengthening the party and give more life to it especially after what happened in the 2019 general election. Yes, Ize Iyamu, no doubt is a leader that under politics like no other. I think the kind of role he should be playing right now is that of a godfather that will provide the necessary leadership and direction.

Senator Mathew Urhoghide, won the Edo South senatorial election to the national assembly. He defeated APC, Hon Patrick Obahiagbon.  Urhoghide’s victory was expected as the two time lawmaker was said to have attracted dividend of democracy to his constituency. He may have to rely on the network of Ize-Iyamu in the event that he is not contesting for the ticket.

Hon Ogbeide Ihama, a second term member of the federal house of representatives, is also touted to join the race for the PDP governorship ticket. His popularity is within his Oredo federal constituency. He is said not have structure in other senatorial districts and may no be a good material for governorship contest.

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