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Edo gov’ship: Issues as PDP holds primary today

As the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holds its primary election to pick its flag-bearer for the September 21 governorship election today, several issues that preceded…

As the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holds its primary election to pick its flag-bearer for the September 21 governorship election today, several issues that preceded and came after the party’s congress election may shape the outcome.

The party had earlier conducted its ward and local government congresses which ended in controversy, as nine out of the 10 aspirants alleged irregularities in the congresses that were supervised by a three-man committee, led by Governor Peter Mba of Enugu State.

The aggrieved aspirants, Comrade Philip Shaibu, Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Anselm Ojezua, Hon Felix Akhabue, Amb. Martin Uhomoibhi, Hafia Hadizat Umoru, Hon. Omosede Igbinedion, Dr. Earl Osaro Onaiwu, and Barr Arthur Esene, petitioned the National Working Committee of the party. 

They alleged that the committee was working in tandem with Governor Godwin Obaseki, apparently to give an edge to his preferred aspirants, believed in several quarters to be Asue Ighodalo.

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In the petition, the aspirants alleged that contrary to the decision that Edo members of the party would not be among officials saddled with the conduct of the congress, officials of the state government and aides of the governor were included in the officials.

Not satisfied with the ward congress, the nine aggrieved aspirants boycotted the local government congress, alleging a loss of confidence in the process.

According to pundits, the development, as well as the internal wrangling in the party before the congresses and the belief that the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, has a preference for a candidate, are some of the issues that may shape the primary election.

The governor’s indifference to the allegation of having preference further fuelled the scepticism that many of the aspirants and other stakeholders of the party have been nursing towards the primary election.

While the governor has neither denied nor confirmed having a preferred candidate, he has, however, not hidden his preference for a governor of Edo Central Senatorial District extraction, and according to observers, his body language is pointing towards Ighodalo, who is the chairman of his Alaghodaro Summit.

“During the campaign for the primary, the state apparatus was given to Ighodalo, and during his tour of wards, statements were being dished out from the state government,” a chieftain of the party, who asked not to be named, said.

The chieftain added: “Most of the delegates were Governor Obaseki’s men, as other aspirants boycotted the local government congress following the outcome of the ward congress. This would give Ighodalo an edge over others.”

Surprisingly, despite the fact that the NWC of the party was yet to resolve the issues raised by the aggrieved aspirants, Anslem Ojezua, who often speaks on their behalf, said they would take part in the delegates election.

He said they would observe the primary election even though they are not aware of the procedure the leadership of the party has adopted for the primary.

“We don’t know the arrangement they are making or the procedure they have adopted. Ordinarily, I would have thought that the committee for the primary would meet with stakeholders. This is the first time I am participating in a PDP organised primary, and they are deviating from the usual tradition of the party.

“So, as usual, we would observe their activities, and our subsequent conduct would be determined by their observation of the rule of natural justice,” he said.

Ojezua added that the appeals committee agreed that there were so many wrongs in the conduct of the congress and made their recommendations for the party to find a political solution.

“But the National Working Committee decided to ratify what has been done, including the flaws that followed it. So, we just wait to see what happens in the primary,” he added. 

Also speaking to Daily Trust in confidence, an aide to Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu said his principal would participate in the primary election as a major contender.

However, pundits said most of the aspirants are contesting to add to the number of aspirants and also test their popularity.

What you need to know about the aspirants

Philip Shaibu 

Shaibu is the current deputy governor of the state, a two-time member of the state House of Assembly, and a member of the House of Representatives before he was picked as deputy to Governor Obaseki. He is one of the major aspirants in the primary. He is popular and has experience, but Shaibu, according to pundits, was daring to succeed his principal without his approval.

Asue Ighodalo 

Asue is from Edo Central Senatorial District and has been the chairman of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s Alaghodaro, a body responsible for Obaseki’s economic blueprint, for the last seven years. He is believed to have the support and backing of the governor, but he is seen as a Lagos man rather than an Edo man.

Aslem Ojezua 

Ojezua was chairman of the APC before he defected with Obaseki to the PDP. He was a commissioner under former Governor Adams Oshiomhole. Ojezua is seen as a seasoned politician who can stand as a stabiliser and a bridge between technocrats and politicians. But he is believed to be in the race to test his popularity.

Omorogie Ogbeide-Ihama

Ogbeide-Ihama is the immediate federal lawmaker representing Oredo Federal Constituency. He is loved by his people, following his sterling performance at the National Assembly. He stepped down for Obaseki in 2019. He has the support of the new PDP, but they lost in the ward congress.

Omosede Igbinedion 

Omosede Igbinedion is the daughter of the Esama of Benin, Gabriel Igbinedion. She was a member of the House of Representatives, representing Ovia federal constituency between 2015 and 2019. She is said to be in the race to test her popularity.

Felix Akhabue

Akhabue was a former chairperson of the Esan West Local Government Area. Pundits say he doesn’t have the political strength across the three senatorial districts of the state and is thus believed to be in the race to test his popularity.

Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi

He is from the Esan South Local Government of Edo State. Uhomoibhi served as Permanent Secretary of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs but is not considered popular on the political scene in the state.

Hafia Hadizat Umoru 

She is considered a novice in politics despite being the deputy national women’s leader of the party.

Dr. Earl Osaro Onaiwu 

Onaiwu is the pioneering Director General of the PDP Governors’ Forum. He is not new to Edo politics, but pundits say he may not have the war chest to outperform the bigwigs in the election.

Arthur Esene

Esene, a lawyer who served as the state legal adviser for the PDP, is considered by pundits to be a featherweight contestant who, many believe, does not have what it takes to win the party’s ticket.

 

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