By Chinweoke Akoma
For Edo Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, these indeed are interesting times. Sacked from its hold on the governorship in 2008 and now under attack from the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the party is faced with the prospects of going through the stress of sharing its tickets for the next round of general elections.
Remarkably, the present challenge of the party is limited to contests for the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly. The gubernatorial contest is not due until one year after these elections on account of the delayed inauguration of the ruling Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Whether the people like it or not, the actions or in-actions of the party leadership in the state are bound to come up against these major contradictions in all its arrogance of manipulations of party primaries and aggravating inanities. Having quietly embraced the diction of use and dump not giving account of stewardship to the electorate except when seeking a new mandate and particularly in the sharing of post election bounties, the party will discover that the road to societal self-validation is very rough indeed.
It is clear that the real problem of the Edo PDP is not the leadership but its cronies who, in the desire to remain relevant, fence up the leadership and begin to drop names that the leader has endorsed this and that.
How else does one explain a situation whereby a failed elected representative buys up key leaders so that they can in turn manipulate party primaries in his favour, and at the expense of the party.
The sparks are already flying. But the alleged bid to manipulate party primaries to favour cronies is almost leading to a democratic tragedy. Many PDP members in the state see the bid by some leaders to manipulate the primaries as nothing but a pact with a cult preparatory to suicide. The alleged manipulative bid, it is believed, may cost the party leadership a substantial goodwill.
Party members are reportedly steeled into cynicism triggered by party officials hypocrisy and those with axe to grind with representatives that did not perform to expectation while the confrontation lasts, the redolent goes with the odour of pain and disaster.
The in-fighting in the state chapter of the PDP is only one of the two major challenges of the Dan Orbih-led executive. The other has to do with the Governor Adams Oshiomhole- led government which has engaged the PDP in a seeming war of total destruction. The conduct and the outcome of the PDP primaries would be pivotal to the fortune of the party in the immediate future.
Today, the south senatorial district of the PDP that constitutes almost half of the state population parades scores of aspirants jostling for various positions from the Senate to the House of Representatives down to the state House of Assembly. From what is on ground, the leading aspirants are Senator Daisy Ehanire-Danjuma, Hon. Henry Idahagbon and Hon. Isaiah Osifo for the Senate and if the feelers are to be relied on, Daisy Danjuma is the aspirant to beat in the primary and in the general elections.
So also one can say of the incumbent Senator Yisa Braimah from Edo north. But this can not be said of Edo Central which seems to be the main soul of the party and the country home of the PDP national leader, Chief Tony Anenih. The district has one senatorial seat and two House of Representatives seats, and, judging from the goings on, issues and not personalities are dominating the campaigns.
Hustling for the Senate seat are the incumbent senator, Odion Ugbesia, and a civil engineer, Chief Clifford Odia. Ugbesia, is a seasoned politician, has held many political positions at different times in the district. He was a commissioner, special assistant to the national chairman of a party and minister before he was elected into the Senate.
In politics, 24 hours is quite a long time, but barring any last minute change in permutations, if the party primaries are held today, Odia will have the day.
The scramble for the two seats for the House of Representatives in the senatorial district seems to be less dramatic just as it is thrilling. While the Agbazilo axis, which comprises Esan north east and Esan south east local government areas, is almost sure to be secured by the incumbent, Friday Itulah the other federal constituency, Okpebho cannot be the same which is allegedly in hot dispute between the incumbent and some other aspirants.
The thinking among party faithful is that if the encroachment of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) into Edo central is to be halted, then the party needs men of strong character to be able to halt the advance of the ACN.
Regardless of this scenario, there is an alleged plan to manipulate the primaries in favour of the incumbents. There has been accusation of name dropping that the leadership of the party intends to impose some candidates on the party. The leadership of the party in Edo State is believed to be making frantic efforts to disassociate itself from the allegation.
Interestingly, the rival party, ACN seems to be playing the game of wait and see. That is to await the fallout of the PDP primaries with a view to cashing on it.