The governorship election in Edo State is not scheduled to hold until 2016 but the forthcoming presidential and National Assembly elections would be a strong contest between the two dominant parties in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Indications to that were shown yesterday when the women coordinator of the Goodluck Campaign in the state, Mrs. Evelyn Igbafe, three term member of the House of Representatives, Hon Ehiogie West-Idahosa and several other PDP members defected to the APC.
BY SIMON EBEGBULEM & GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
The two major figures that would lead the combat by the two parties even though not contesting themselves would be Governor Adams Oshiomhole and Chief Anthony Anenih, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP.
Unlike in 2011 when the governor was laid back in support of his party’s candidate, Governor Oshiomhole is firing from all cylinders against the PDP’s candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan.
The governor has accused the president of neglecting the people of the state after they gave him total support in 2011. The governor particularly frowned that Federal Government gave the sum of N2 billion to PDP states from the Ecological funds but not a dime to Edo State despite the ecological problem ravaging Auchi and the Queen Ede area in Benin City.
He therefore declared that the people of the state will vote for Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the APC candidate. The governor at a recent rally in Ring Road apologised to the people of the state for persuading them to support Dr. Jonathan in 2011.
The PDP leadership in the state is, however, doing all to convince the people to vote for Jonathan.
It promises to be a tough contest that could be narrowed down to a fifty-fifty between the two major candidates.
And for the National and state Assembly elections, the two parties have picked their best candidates and are ready to go. In Edo South senatorial district, made up of seven Local Government Areas, Pharm. Matthew Urhoghide, the senatorial candidate of the PDP will be battling it out with the Minority whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Samson Osagie, who is the APC candidate for the Senate.
Osagie spent eight years in the State House of Assembly and is currently spending his eight year in the House of Representatives, arguably making him one of the most experienced lawmakers in the country.
He will be banking on his experience and the predominantly APC membership in Edo South to defeat Urhoghide. However, Urhoghide is not a neophyte in the politics of Edo South having run for governorship under the then APP. In 2011 he lost out to Senator Ehigie Uzamere in the hustle for the Senate ticket of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the incumbent senator who after breaking the second term jinx in 2011 has opted out from another contest.
Urhoghide finally clinched the ticket of the PDP and is bound to set anxiety in the camp of the APC given the strong backing he has from PDP leaders including Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Senator Rowland Owie, Captain Hosa Okunbor, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
One contest that would In the House of Representatives, the PDP is fielding daughter of the Esama of Benin, Barr. Omosede Ighbinedion, a lawyer for Ovia Federal Constituency.
While the PDP fielded a former bank Manager, Charity Amanyaevbo.
Though there was an earlier disagreement between Amanyaevbo and the incumbent member in the area, and Hon Isaac Osahon following the disputed primaries in the APC.
Osahon went to court to challenge the declaration of Amanyaevbo as winner of the primaries. The situation created tension for the APC in that area but as it seems, the leadership of the party waded in and resolved the crisis.
Omosede would be banking on the influence of her father, but it is still not going to be easy for her since she is a new comer into the game. In Ikpoba Okhai/Egor Federal constituency, it is not going to be an easy one for the APC candidate, Paul Ohonbanmu who is widely regarded as an introvert. That is where the PDP candidate, EJ Agbonayinma stands a chance to exploit.
Edo Central Senatorial zone
THE zone has remained the strongest base of the PDP in Edo State and the party has produced all the federal lawmakers from the zone since 1999 being the zone of the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih.
It is also the base of the minister of works, Architect Mike Onolememen and Chief Tom Ikimi who recently defected back to the party.
But as Vanguard observed, the emergence of Chief Francis Inegbeneki as the senatorial candidate of the APC in Edo Central may pose a problem for the PDP. Inegbeneki will slug it out with the PDP senatorial candidate, Engr. Clifford Ordia.
The war against third term in the zone led to the exit of the incumbent senator, Senator Odion Ugbesia, Friday Itulah and Patrick Ikhariele, both of them PDP House of Reps members from that zone.
Whether these PDP lawmakers who lost the tickets to the new ones will give total support to their party ahead the elections is still unknown. Inegbeneki used to be the political son of Chief Anenih before he defected to the APC, and he may have the key to unlocking the PDP hold on the area. His threat could pose a serious challenge to the governorship aspiration of Onolememen.
In Edo North senatorial district, this is the home of Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the state chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih. The PDP senatorial candidate here is Barr. Paschal Ugbome while Chief Francis Alimekhena is the APC senatorial candidate. But some members of the PDP led BY Alhaji Usman Shagadi broke out to form SDP.
As a result, the incumbent member representing Etsako Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Abubakar Momoh picked the SDP senatorial ticket for Edo North. Incidentally, the trio are from the Etsako clan where Oshiomhole hails from.
The only hope Alimekhena has is Oshiomhole’s influence in that area if not he would have been a write off in the contest. However it will be a strong contest between Ugbome and Alimekhena.