The 2023 edition of Alaghodaro investment summit, an annual business event of the Godwin Obaseki-led PDP government of Edo State has come and gone. Expectedly, during the five-day event, Obaseki gave his administration a pass mark in the social-economic and infrastructural growth of the state.
The 7th edition is unique in the sense that it was the last in the lives of the administration and was an opportunity to showcase to his critics that his administration has met the yearning and aspirations of the Edo people.
For the governor’s political family, it was an opportunity to also showcase and project his much rumoured preferred successor and business ally, Mr Asue Ighodalo, chairman of Sterling Bank Plc.
The Obaseki-led PDP is however optimistic of producing a successor that would continue and sustain its legacy but opposition parties on the other hand are gearing up to stop the governor come 2023 in a battle that is going to be fierce for the party’s ticket.
Hurdles Against Opposition Parties
There is no doubt that one of the hurdles that must be surmounted by political parties against the ruling PDP is to ensure that it conduct and provide a free level playing field for all aspirants at the February parties primaries and also taken into consideration the clamour to power rotation among the major ethnic tribes in the state.
For example, in the main All Progressives Congress, APC, the party appear to be caught between throwing the party’s ticket open for allow all aspirants from the three senatorial district to contest for the party’s ticket or adopt indirect primaries even as fillers indicated that aspirants from Edo Central senatorial district appears favourable to the leadership of the party
Some of the APC frontline aspirants from Edo Central eyeing to fly the party’s tickets includes, Senator representing Edo Central at the National Assembly, Sen. Monday Okpebholo, aka Akpakomiza, Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, Retired Col. David Imuse, Hon Festus Ebea, Hon Gideon Obhakhan, Rt Hon. Dennis Idahosa and Engr Mike Onolemenmen among other aspirants.
It was gathered that a meeting held penultimate week also confirmed the body language of the APC to cede its ticket to Edo Central. A source in the know confided that leaders of the party have their eyes on Sen. Monday Okpebholo as a likely aspirant to emerge the party’s flag bearer.
Other aspirants interested in contesting the APC Governorship ticket includes, former minister of state for works, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, former minister of state for budget and planning, Prince Clem Agba, and former Secretary to the Edo State Government, (SSG) Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Retired General Charles Airhiavbere and Hon Johnson Agbonnayima Ehiozuwa.
But a former Minority whip of the House of Representatives, Rt.Hon Samson Osagie, however of the view that the party should adopt direct primary in selecting a candidate and argued that such a process usually throws up a popular and acceptable candidate that will enjoy the support of party members.
In the Labour Party’s, in Edo State, there is apprehension among aspirants over heightened rumour by the leadership of the party to compromise the process and in a bid to trade the ticket to a particular aspirant considered to be a ‘placeholder’ to Obaseki.
This is also compounded with speculations that the National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure may throw his hat in the ring and contest the governorship ticket, a situation that has left other aspirants in ‘panic mood’. They fear that he might use his position to undermine the process to his advantage.
Frontline aspirants in the LP are Real Estate mogul and businessman, Dr Dorry Okojie, former governorship Aspirant and educationist, Barrister Kenneth Imansuagbon, former NBA President, Olumide Akpata and Asha Okojie.
While in the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Governor Godwin Obaseki, may face a herculean task in producing a likely successor as indication emerged that the division between the Obaseki faction of the party as the Dan Orbih’s led legacy PDP are determine to stop the governor from determining who gets the PDP governorship ticket.
The party Wednesday rolled out time-table towards the preparation for the party’s primaries slated for 24th, February, 2024.
Among aspirants of the PDP includes, Hon Omosede Igbinedion, Hon Anslem Odjezua and Hon John Yakubu
Even though Obaseki nor his preferred choice for the party’s ticket, Asue Ighodalo are yet to officially make it official, speculation is rift that he has been pencilled down to emerge the PDP governorship standard flag bearer.
Asue, a technocrat and businessman sits as board/ chairman of multi-billion naira investments, is relatively unknown in the politics of Edo state, a development that has fuelled a campaign for the choice of a ‘homeboy’ to succeed Obaseki by those opposed to Asue aspiration.
In an apparent move to ensure Obaseki does not have his way, the National vice Chairman of PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, held a meeting with leaders of the Legacy PDP from the three senatorial districts which comprises Legacy PDP and new members who goes under aegis ‘Legacy Coalition’.
At the well attended anti -Obaseki’s faction of the PDP, Orbih had insisted and urged the leaders to put up a very strong spirit to ensure that PDP have a good, marketable, and acceptable candidate for next year’s gubernatorial election and affirmed his earlier held position that the ticket for Edo PDP 2024 Guber election is not for the highest bidder.
He further said that the members and leaders of the ‘Legacy Coalition’ will decide who holds the ticket and flag of Edo PDP come 2024.
Orbih stated, “Elections took place in the South-East in Imo, North-Central in Kogi state and South-South Bayelsa. Next is the Edo Governorship election. If PDP must retain and win the governorship election, this powerful body now known as “Legacy Coalition” must produce the candidate.
“The group is made up of those who stood and laboured for the Party before Governor Obaseki joined us, and those who stood by the Governor when he was thrown out of APC, they followed him to PDP but sidelined after his re-election.
These noble men and women of honour have joined us in our collective political objective of saving the Party and winning the next gubernatorial election. Present here are former leaders of APC who came with the governor including APC former state Woman leader; Dr Mrs Amadasun, former elected council chairmen, and many others who could not make it to this meeting.
“We must produce a candidate that will address the challenges of our state. One who will identify with the people and make Edo State great again.
“The legacy coalition is built on a very strong and solid foundation of love and unity of purpose where efforts and contributions of our members are recognised and honoured. That is why today one of the prominent leaders that came back to the Party with the governor, Hon. Charles Idahosa, has been nominated as BOT member representing South-South.
“I have heard stories of people boasting that they are prepared to spend money to compromise the process of nominating a candidate. By the grace of God and your support, the Edo State PDP ticket is not for sale. It is not for the highest bidder. On this we stand. God bless PDP, God bless Edo state, God bless Nigeria.”
Also corroborating Orbih’s position, a chieftain of the party, Martin Osakwe said Asue Ighodalo led project by Obaseki is dead on arrival.
In an apparent rejection of Asue projection for the PDP ticket said “I look at this man (Asue Ighodalo). What has he done for my constituency, (Education). What has he done for Education? How many people is he training in the university? What free Education programme do we have? What has he done for his community? There are people in Edo Central you can present to us.
“You’re coming to say that because somebody is a bank manager or chairman of a bank somewhere. They called me. I told them that they’re cooking bad soup. I didn’t mix words. That soup is already rotten. Nobody will eat it unless you want to have a running stomach. You want to go to the hospital. I don’t want to go to the hospital at this stage. I won’t have a hand in that. That project is dead on arrival.
On the crisis in the PDP in Edo State, Osakwe said that there is only one PDP in the state adding,”you can call it the authentic PDP or the Legacy PDP led by Chief Dan Orbih. The chairman of the party has kind of abdicated. He left his position. He watched while his house was being destroyed. We’re rebuilding. As far as the party is concerned the process of rebuilding is in top gear. We are prepared for 2024.
“Our next governor will be a home boy. The person who will be governor will combine the qualities of Samuel Ogbemudia and Ambrose Alli. How do you do this? You will take the visionary, developmental approach of Ogbemudia. His developmental vision, his tenacity, his selfless distribution of amenities and projects across the state. That was what Ogbemudia was known for. He added.
Similarly, pro-Obaseki members and leaders of the PDP had also held a meeting of Edo Central leaders and stakeholders that the party’s ticket should come to Edo Central senatorial district.
The meeting was held at the residence of the former minister of foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi and was well attended.
Among the leaders are Hon Dr Tony Aziegbemi, Archbishop Dr Anthony Okosun, Barr. Luckson Ogedegbe, and Hon Joe Edionwele Former member, House of Reps ( Esan West) among other members.
After intensive deliberation had resolved in a communique and stated, “That the Special Committee is the body that will work out the structure and procedures that will drive the Edo Agenda for a Governor of Esan extraction in 2024 .
“The committee is to appeal to other Senatorial districts for it to allow Edo Central Senatorial District produce the next Governor of the State for the purpose of fairness, Justice and equity, for which Edo People are known for”.