AS Edo State inch nearer to the July 14, 2012, governorship election, the question begging for an answer in the minds of many Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, members and supporters is: What strategy is the party going to employ to defeat the ACN government in the state led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, whom many have come to see not to be the messiah they thought he was.
The candid opinion of not a few PDP members in the state is, the task of removing Oshiomhole and the ACN from Dennis Osadebey Avenue, Edo State Government seat of power is surmountable if the PDP can look inward to the direction of the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Oserheimen Agberaodion Osunbor, whose administration was cut short by the Appeal Court judgment of Tuesday, November 11, 2008.
Beside his impeccable academic record as a professor of law, Senator Osunbor also has a very impressive democratic experience having being a distinguished two-time senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where he served as the chairman of the Senate standing committee on judiciary for eight straight years without blemish. He served the state as Executive Governor between May 29, 2007 and November 11, 2008 on the platform of the PDP. By implication Prof. Osunbor remains the PDP Governor in Edo State.
Going by these facts and indices, it is very safe for any one to say that, Prof Osunbor as a former governor who was able to impress the people by way of performance possesses the right contact, network and political goodwill both within and outside of PDP to sway the majority of the votes in favor of the party, if nominated as PDP candidate for the July 2012, governorship election. So it is very safe to advise the PDP in Edo State to look no further in their search for a credible and performance-driven candidate who can wrest power from Oshiomhole and the ACN. That candidate is in the party and has been in the party from the beginning; he is the distinguished Senator and former Governor Osunbor.
There is no gain saying the fact that the main problem PDP is having in Edo State is that the party has a battered image as a result of the woeful performance of the government the party installed at the inception of this present democracy between 1999- 2007. However, Prof. Osunbor had started the process of redeeming the battered image of the party in the state before his administration was truncated by the Court of Appeal judgment. Within a short period of 18 months in office as Governor of Edo State, Prof. Osunbor was able to prove to the entire state that the famous eight locust years of the party’s government between 1999- 2007, was not the fault of the entire party, but that of an individual who could not effectively utilize the opportunity offered him by the party to write his name in gold so that the verdict of history will be favourable to him.
It is on record that within the first one hundred days of Prof. Osunbor’s swearing as Governor of Edo State in 2007, Edo people were able to look around them and had every course to say yes; they had a Governor who is determined to work and give them succour in such a way that the eight locust years of the previous administration will be erased from their memory in no distant time.
Beside his developmental strides within the short period he was governor, another dividend that Edo State PDP will benefit from fielding Osunbor as the party’s candidate for the 2012 governorship election is that majority of PDP members who have left the party for the Action Congress of Nigeria are sure going to return to work for the party.
It is worthy to note that PDP votes in all the elections conducted across the state since the party was ousted from power have always been divided, and this had resulted in the loses the party have suffered in all the elections since 2008. Even in Edo Central where the party still maintain a stronghold, the winnings would have been more convincing if all the party’s votes were to be intact.
Let the party leadership not pretend that they are not aware that there are members of the party who have refused to leave the party but have vowed to continue to work against the interest of the party while remaining in the party. To arrest this trend the party should be resolved in fielding a candidate that will be accepted whole heartedly by all party members, including those aggrieved members who think their interest is no longer in the party.
Investigations have revealed that majority of PDP members in this category will bury their hatchets and work whole heartedly to ensure victory for PDP in the 2012 governorship election if Prof. Osunbor emerges the party’s candidate.
PDP as a matter of fact must find a way to deal with the issue of protest votes against PDP candidates by PDP members. The party will have to make sure that this does not re-occur in 2012 governorship election by fielding a generally accepted candidate like Prof. Osunbor.
Mr. EPRHAIM OSAZEMWINDE , a public affairs analyst, wrote from Benin, Edo State.