Barely Fifty five clear days to go, all seem set for the battle royale for the soul of Edo State as the governorship candidates of the two major political parties in the state, the All Progressives Cngres, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have picked their running mates for the epic battle that will lay to rest the supremacy tussle which has enlisted the young and the aged from the political divide.
Permutations in APC…
At the APC end of the political field, the APC appears to be preparing but it also looks as though they are still in the dressing room. For now, it is a dress rehearsal as most members of the party put it at the weekend. The APC governorship candidate, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, recently announced his running mate for the election. He is Mr. Philip Shuaibu from Edo North Senatorial Zone. The New Diplomat investigation reveals that the choice of Shuaibu may not have gone down well with some APC top shots, especially in Edo Central, who were expecting that, head or tail, they should produce the next Deputy Governor of the state. But those familiar with the political permutations in Edo State politics maintain that the APC by going to pick a running mate from Edo North has scored a political masterstroke over the PDP given the population of Edo North and the numerical voting strength of Edo North which is higher than that of Edo Central. In addition, APC is said to have moved underground with promise of juicy positions to Edo Central, including speakership in the next dispensation to assuage the Esan people who are said to be unhappy with the distribution of positions in the current APC government in Edo State.
Said a political analyst: “It is a game of numbers now. By picking a running mate from Edo North, Mr Obaseki has scored a major political feat and masterstroke because Edo North has the voting strength over Edo Central. So if APC is able to win Edo North bloc vote with Oshiomhole’s vigour and strength and get the required 25% in Edo Central because there is no way APC can win Edo Central with a running mate to Ize-Iyamu in the person of JohnYakubu who is a grassroots politician in Esanland, then the Edo South becomes the battle ground…. And if PDP is able to garner 25% vote in Edo North with Ize-Iyamu’s grassroots strength, it then becomes clear that Edo South will be the deciding zone. Whoever wins Edo South would win the governorship race. That is the calculation because as it stands, that is the clear position. PDP will most certainly win Edo Central while APC will most certainly win Edo North bloc. So the deciding zone is Edo South where both Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu hail from. They are both Binis. It is going to be a tough fight I must tell you.”
OBASEKI’s RUNNING- MATE (PHILIP SHUAIBU}
Shuaibu is one of the political leaders of the party in Edo North. He is a former Majority Leader in the Edo State House of Assembly and member representing Etsako Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
His experience as a lawmaker gives him an edge over others. His leadership role in the party in Edo Central portrays him as one who has paid his dues. He has a strong grassroots base and support which he can exploit to give victory to the party in September election. He also has the blessing of the governor as he is seen as Oshiomhole political boy.
Some accuse him of lack of respect for elders and poor leadership qualities considering the poor manner he allegedly handled the Edo State Land Use Tax bill in the State House of Assembly.
Permutations in PDP…
At the capacity-filled Baptist Convention Centre along TV road, Oliha quarters Benin City penultimate week, the ‘who is who’ in PDP in Edo State converged to flag off the party’s governorship campaign for the September 10, 2016 election. The crème de la crème who adorned the high table included the Esama of Esan land and PDP BoT chairman, Chief Tony Anenih; the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; Chief Tom Ikimi, Senator Odion Ugbesia, Senator Matthew Ide, Chief Mike Onolememen and array of other PDP henchmen in attendance. The man of the moment, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the flag-bearer of the party resplendent in an all-white royal skirt and a flowing top was beaming with smiles with his wife by his side. An array of palace chiefs from the Benin were also present.
Some national officers of the PDP, including Prof. Jerry Gana, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. Umai, Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. Udoh Emma Udoh and the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro among others were present at the flag-off.
Expectations were high on who the governorship candidate would pick as his lieutenant in the September 10, electoral battle. The hall was shaken to its very foundations when Ize-Iyamu announced to the applause of the crowd a former Esan North East Local Government chairman, Mr. John Yakubu, as his running mate. Thus, the stage was set for the party to, according to Chief Tom Ikimi, “reclaim what rightly belongs to us.”
Ize-iyamu’s Running-Mate ( John Yakubu)
He is a former Council Chairman of Esan North East. He is a very grassroots politician with a lot of following in Edo Central, Esanland. His choice was greeted with loud approval among the PDP chieftains.
He is quite acceptable at the grassroots level. He is also based in Uromi running businesses at the local level which puts him in constant touch with the local people. He will latch on that to advantage.
He is seen as too vocal and uncompromising. He can rock the boat.
But beyond these permutations in both camps, what really are the stakes on both sides? What is going well for both sides at the moment that will be a joker at the end of the day? On the side of the APC, the house is said to have settled as the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has endorsed Obaseki and Odubu and Oshimhole have reconciled. Said an insider; “Politicians are interesting people. They say one thing and do another. But as we speak, they are on one boat now. The disagreements are all over. Chris Ogienmwoyi is back to the fold and it is only Kenneth Imasuangbon who is still dancing outside as at today. But we believe he will come back soon.”
Beyond this however, it is not clear yet politically. Odubu, Ogienmwoyi and the PDP candidate, Pastor Ize-Iyamu are from Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo South. In fact, it is being alleged that Odubu held a secret meeting the PDP candidate in his home in Benin City shortly after he was declared the party flag-bearer. But our source could not confirm this as at the time of filing this report. But it was being rumoured that the people of the Local Council rallied round at a meeting “where it was decided that among the three of them, whoever wins either the PDP or APC ticket, the three should work together in the overall interest of the Local Government.’’ And if this is true, then Ize-Iyamu could capitalize on this to his advantage in the political horse-game.
Optimists however allay any fear on the part of the APC even with the bickering in the broom-dominated house. According to them, the governor’s incumbency factor cannot be wished away in this political chess game. They also express the point that with the choice of Philip Shuaibu, Prof. Osunbor, Mr. Ogie (Obaseki’s campaign director), and other political bulldozers from Edo North and Central, the APC has nothing to fear about retaining the state. This political calculation, The New Diplomat learnt, is for the governor, Mr. Oshiomhole to maximize his power of incumbency to capture Edo North Senatorial district which happens to be his homestead and make good use of his in-law, Mr. Victor Eboigbe and other political bigwigs in Edo Central to secure more than 25 percent in that zone. Edo South, the analysts believe, will then be the deciding factor in the September 10 election.
On how the APC could secure more than 25 percent and coast home to victory, some believe that Obaseki could capitalize on the large population of non-Binis resident in Benin City and environs as well as a sizable population of Binis who are excited and enthusiastic in seeing their son to victory. Oshiomhole’s achievements in the state, some believe, is also a strong point to canvass for votes as the APC pundits are quick to point at the dualization of the Airport Road and other landmark projects of his administration. He is said to have also tarred many roads and built schools across the state. He also attracted the support of World Bank to Edo State, a feat that is said to be unprecedented in the history of the state. In fact, in apparent move to cut down the popularity of the PDP candidate, Ize-Iyamu, APC supporters in the Edo State capital have coined a political jingle asking the PDP governorship candidate about his boss, Mr. Lucky Igbinedion, an allusion to the eight-year reign of the former governor in which Mr. Ize-Iyamu was a major player.
On the side of the PDP, they seem to have a strong house after the recent storm occasioned by the factionalization of the party at the national level. The factional chairman, Mr. Modu Sheriff had allegedly attempted to split the Edo State PDP by organizing another governorship primary where one of the aspirants who lost to Ize-Iyamu in the first primary, Mr. Matthew Iduoriyekwemem, emerged a factional governorship candidate. There was palpable fear in the camp of the PDP in the state as the Sheriff faction laid claim to legitimacy based on a High Court judgment in Abuja that recognized him as the interim chairman of the party. However, what seemed like a relief came the way of Ize-Iyamu and other leaders of the party when shortly before the flag-off of the campaign, news filtered in from Port Harcourt that a Federal High Court had ruled in favour of Mr. Makarfi recognizing him as the national chairman. Although Sheriff is still kicking, but calm has returned to the PDP camp where state-wide campaigns had kicked off in earnest. Besides, the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also accepted Makarfi’s list as the authentic list with Pastor Ize-Iyamu as the PDP candidate.
What seems to be going well for the PDP in the state at the moment is the array of leaders who have thrown their weights behind the candidacy of Ize-Iyamu. From Tony Anenih, Gabriel Igbinedion, Senator Ogbesia, Senator Ide to Tom Ikimi, the list seems endless. The political juggernauts have vowed to reclaim the state. While addressing the crowd at the Baptist Conference Centre, Ikimi appealed to President Buhari to allow a level playing field in the September 10 Edo election, stressing that the PDP was prepared to win the election fair and square from the ballot box. He also sent a message to Oshiomhole that the days of APC in the state are numbered, adding that he (Ikimi), Ize-Iyamu and a few others who made his victory possible in 2007 are ready to repeat that feat in PDP.
It is also believed by many that the PDP’s candidate is quite sellable. Analysts on this side of the divide point to the political pedigree of the Redeemed Church pastor who was reputed to have played a major role in delivering victories to Oshiomhole in all his elections. Ize-Iyamu is reputed to be a political tactician who enjoys massive grassroots support across the state. A returnee in PDP, Ize-Iyamu who was the Secretary to the State government under the first term of Oshiomhole and Chief of Staff under former governor, Lucky Igbinedion, had decamped to the APC shortly before the end of Lucky Igbinedion’s administration. He midwifed the birth of the action Congress, AC, which later metamorphosed into the APC, and on whose platform, he delivered Oshiomhole in his first governorship attempt. His strong political structure anchored on his PRAISE GROUP organization is still very much intact and his membership, The New Diplomat gathered, is on the rise daily. Ize-Iyamu is from Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo South. At the moment, he seems to be maintaining a very cordial relationship with the Benin royal palace and this, many believe, is a plus for his governorship ambition.
While expecting the formal flag-off of the APC governorship campaign any moment from now, it is believed that with the choice of Shuaibu as running mate to Obaseki, the APC has sent a strong message to the PDP that it is set to retain its hold on the state.
From the various analyses so far, it is too early to where victory will swing. What many Edo people are saying however is for the power-that-be to leave Edo State alone to decide who will become its governor come September 10, 2016.
PROMINENT POLITICIANS IN EDO STATE.
ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC)
COMRADE ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE
SEN FRANCIS ALIMIKHENA
HON. PHILIP SHAIBU
HON ABDUL OROH
HON PALLY IRIASE
HON PETER AKPATASON
HON JOHNSON ABOLAGBA
CHIEF ALEMON AKHIGBE
PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)
CHIEF DAN OSI ORBIH – STATE CHAIRMAN
CHIEF MIKE OGHIADOMHE- FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO GOODLUCK JONATHAN
CHIEF RAYMOND DOKPESI – CHAIRMAN DAAR COMMUNICATIONS
HON. PASCAL UGBOME
HON. SEGUN SAIKI- VICE CHAIRMAN, EDO NORTH SEN DISTRICT
COL TUNDE AKOGUN (rtd) – FORMER LEADER HOUSE OF REPS
CHIEF HENRY TENEBE
MR. JARRET TENEBE
HON. ZAKAWANU GARUBA FORMER SPEAKER EDO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
SENATOR YISA BRAIMOH
ALHAJI KASSITU OZETO
MR. BANKOLE BALOGUN
HON GALLANT SYLVERSTER ERUAGA
CHIEF JOHNSON EMASELU
ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC)
CHIEF MIKE INEGBINEKI
MR. THEOPHILUS OKOH
HON VICTOR TIGER EDOROR
HON DAVID IYOHA
HON SAM OBOH
HON PATRICK IKHARIALE
HON JUSTIN OKONOBOH
BARR. KEN IMANSUANGBON
BAR. ANSLEM OJEZUA
BAR. CASLEY IRABOR
CHIEF AUGUSTINE OMOFUOMA
PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)
CHIEF TONY ANENIH
SENATOR ODION UGBESIA
SENATOR CLIFFORD ORDIA
CHIEF TOM IKIMI
PRINCE TONY OMOAGHE
HON JOHN YAKUBU
HON TONY AZIEGBEMI
HON AKHERE UGBESIA
CHIEF MIKE ONOLEMEMEN
HON. FIDELIS OGBEJIELE
HON FELIX IMOISILI
MRS. PHILOMENA IHENYEN
HON VINCENT AKHERE
HON FESTUS EBEA
CHIEF OKAFI EREWELE
PROMINENT POLITICIANS FROM EDO SOUTH SEN ZONE
ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC)
DR PIUS ODUBU
ENGR. CLIFFORD OGIEMWONYI
HON RAZAQ BELO-OSAGIE
PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)
PASTOR OSAGIE IZE-IYAMU
SEN MATTHEW URHOGHIDE
SEN ROLAND OWIE
SEN DAISY DANJUMA
SEN EHIGIE UZAMERE
DR. GODWIN ONI-EDIGIN
CHIEF GABRIEL OSAWARU IGBINEDION
CHIEF LUCKY IGBINEDION