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Issues as parties brace up for Edo gov’ship election

Ahead of the September 21, 2024 governorship election in Edo State, political parties and their candidates have intensified campaigns across the nooks and crannies of…

Ahead of the September 21, 2024 governorship election in Edo State, political parties and their candidates have intensified campaigns across the nooks and crannies of the state to woo voters, Daily Trust Saturday reports

The political atmosphere in Edo State is that of scheming, horse-trading and jostling, as political parties and their candidates are not leaving any stone unturned ahead of the September 21, 2024 governorship election. 

Seventeen political parties have fielded candidates for the election. They are the Action Alliance (AA); Social Democratic Party (SDP); New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP); All Progressives Grand Alliance  (APGA); All People’s Movement (APM) and  the All Peoples Party (APP).

Others are the Action Democratic Party (ADP); African Action Congress (AAC); Zenith Labour Party (ZLP); Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Boot Party  (BP); Accord Party (AP); African Democratic Congress (ADC); Labour Party (LP); All Progressives Congress (APC); People Redemption Party (PRP) and  Young Progressive Party (YPP).

But pundits say the election is likely to be a three-horse race despite the fact that the APC, PDP and the LP are suffering from internal crises. 

Daily Trust Saturday reports that although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lifted the ban on public campaigns, political parties and their candidates are yet to commence official campaigns.  

Daily Trust Saturday reports that there were controversies and protests surrounding the emergence of candidates of the three big parties. 

There was disquiet in the APC as three governorship candidates emerged from parallel primary polls held in Benin ahead of the Edo State governorship election slated for September 21.

While a member of the House of Representatives, Dennis Idahosa, was earlier announced winner by the chairman of the APC Primary Election Committee, Governor Hope Uzodimma, at Protea Hotel in Benin City, Senator Monday Okpebholo was declared winner by the returning officer for the election, Dr Stanley Ugboaja, at the residence of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

Similarly, the local government returning officers for the APC governorship primary election declared Anamero Sunday Dekeri the winner of the contest.

The spokesman of the local government returning officers, Ojo Babatunde, who announced the result in the night, said Dekeri, a member representing Etsako federal constituency at the House of Representatives, polled a total number of 25,384 votes to defeat his closest rival, Dennis Idahosa, who scored 14,127 votes.

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the party was, therefore, forced to conduct another primary election, which produced Senator Okpebholo as the party’s candidate. 

The emergence of Okpebholo also came with its own protests and fears as some party leaders said he was not the preferred candidate of a former governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, who is said to be APC god-father in the state. However, the party later picked Idahosa as its deputy governorship candidate for the election to settle Oshiomhole.  

The PDP primary election was also characterised by drama as Governor Godwin Obaseki, the then deputy governor, Philip Shaibu and other aspirants engaged in supremacy battle.

There were 10 governorship aspirants in the race—Shaibu; Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama; Anselm Ojezua; Felix Akhabue; Martin Uhomoibhi; Hafia Hadizat Umoru; Omosede Igbinedion; Earl Osaro Onaiwu; Arthur Esene and Asue Ihgodalo.

For the party, which hopes to retain the governorship seat, crisis started during the ward and local government congresses supervised by a three-man committee led by Governor Peter Mba of Enugu State. After the congress, 9 aspirants, excluding Ighodalo, petitioned the appeal panel, alleging irregularities.

Although Governor Obaseki didn’t deny or confirm Ighodalo as his preferred candidate, observers said his actions and body language told the story. For instance, during the ward and local government congresses, party members loyal to Obaseki emerged as delegates for the primary.

On February 22, the party conducted two parallel primary elections. One was held at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, while the second primary took place at the deputy governor’s lodge, also in Benin.

Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State, who served as committee chairman and chief electoral officer, declared Ighodalo winner of the PDP primary at the Ogbemudia Stadium with 577 votes, while Shaibu was declared winner of the primary by the local government returning officer, Bartholomew Moses at the deputy governor’s lodge with 300 votes.

Observers said members of the party loyal to the deputy governor, who form the major block of PDP leaders that have been at war with Governor Obaseki for the control of the party, after they were denied entry into the Ogbemudia venue of the primary, moved to another venue and elected Shaibu at a parallel primary.

But the deputy national publicity secretary of the PDP, Ibrahim Abdullahi, had in a telephone interview with Daily Trust Saturday said the party recognised Asue Ighodalo as its only candidate for the election.

But according to pundits, Godwin Obaseki, in his determination to ensure that he produced a successor, picked a new deputy governor, Godwin Omobayo, an engineer, from Akoko-Edo Local Government Area, which is the second in terms of voting population in Edo North, the stronghold of the APC.

Meanwhile, the impeached deputy governor, Philip Shaibu and the former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Kabir Ajoto, with their loyalists, who were staunch supporters of Obaseki, have pitched tent with the Chief Orbih Legacy Group after the new deputy governor was announced. 

Daily Trust Saturday reports that the PDP has unveiled its campaign council for the governor election, but some party members, including the South South national vice chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, declined its membership, saying the party’s candidate can’t tackle the challenges bedeviling the state if he eventually wins. Pundits said there were issues and threats to the chances of the party.

The process leading to the emergence of the LP candidate was not in any way better than that of the APC and the PDP, in terms of intrigues and drama.

The party’s national chairman, Julius Abure, the state chairman, Kelly Ogbalu and the senator representing Edo South, Neda Imasuen, were rooting for different aspirants.

The aspirants were Olumide Akapta, Kenneth Imansuangbon, Professor Sunday Eromosele and Sergius Ogun. But following the intrigues, two venues—Uyi Hotel and Bishop Kelly Centre—were announced for the primary election.

Imasuagbon and his supporters, it was learnt, went to Uyi Hotel for the election while the party executive and primary election committee from the NWC went to the Bishop Kelly Centre to conduct the primary.

Imasuagbon later made his way to the Bishop Kelly centre venue, where Akpata emerged as the candidate of the party after polling 316 votes.

Meanwhile, the Lamidi Apapa faction of the national leadership of the party had submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Anderson Uwadiae Asemota and Monday Ojore Mawah as governorship and deputy governorship candidates of the party for the September 21 election. But the leadership of the Labour Party (LP) has said a letter to INEC by a “dissident group and former members” of the party led by one Lamidi Apapa to recognise Anderson Asemote and Monday Mawa as the governorship and deputy governorship candidates does not emanate from the party.”

A resident of the state, Dada Ayokhai, noted that the issue at stake as INEC has lifted the ban on campaign is how the parties would manage ‘self-inflicted’ crises and participate in the election actively. 

It is left to be seen, how the parties would slug it out come September 21.

 

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