December 16, 2015

Edo 2016 – APC: All trees, no ‘Iroko’

THERE is one prediction that is formidably incontestable: the APC is poised to win the 2016 governorship election in Edo state overwhelmingly. This projection is founded on the pristine truth that the PDP is now rapidly vegetating specie.

Despite the loud-mouthed theatrics of some so-called PDP leaders, the party is actually shallower than a mirage; the self-ascribed PDP chieftains are a bunch of relevance-seeking and legitimacy-questing actors who have taken up residency in a deflating and disappearing balloon of political illusion. The mass of the enlightened electorate of Edo state still have a clear recollection of the almost ten years (1999-2008) PDP misrule, a period that was recklessly squandered under an era often regrettably referred to as the “lost decade” in Edo state’s development history.

From all indication, APC is buoyant with an array of worthy aspirants for the election even to the extent that it could be said that the terrain is crowded. It however requires the obligation of history to remark that the landscape feels dominated by several trees, but unfortunately, none of the species currently bears the nature of an “Iroko”; there is currently no outstanding formidable giant in this forest of aspirants to constitute a landmark for prime reference.

At least five of such aspirants have been publicly and popularly acknowledged from the Edo-South Senatorial District where the gubernatorial candidate, will expectedly, be nominated from under an APC rotational formula. Aspirants from other zones are said to be waiting to join the race. But, in no particular order, let us examine the five known ones for now. From Deputy Governor Pius Odubu to Barrister Osarodion Ogie, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere, Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi and Mr. Godwin Obaseki, APC has a potential list of flag bearers on the frontlines.

The Right Hon. Pius Odubu is a remarkably experienced politician, having spent two terms in the House of Representatives; eight years running as Deputy to Governor Adams Oshiomole plus several years of flourishing legal practice. He is regarded as an ultimate party man, deeply loyal and adorably familiar with the political landscape.

Then, Godwin Obaseki, a guru-like personality from the world of financial consultancy and stock brokerage, currently serving as the Chairman of Governor Oshiomole’s economic team. He is viewed as one of the most intimate in the Comrade’s inner circle. Under his watch as a chief economic strategist, Edo state has undoubtedly witnessed a responsible and result-yielding economic and fiscal trajectory. Obaseki comes into public service with an indestructible spirit of new visions of thoughtful possibilities and attainment of redefined horizons for our geo-political entity.

Overall, in these times of national economic stress, coupled with the precarious character of the global oil market, Edo state would need fresh paradigms of fiscal strategies to survive and thrive. For a party on a mission to victory, the combination of Obaseki’s business world acumen and his rapidly evolving capacity at organizational politics could attract premium consideration of the APC leadership to nominate him for the 2016 gubernatorial battle.

Very significant in the array of the aspirants is Barrister Osarodion Ogie, former Chief of Staff to Governor Oshiomole; and now the Commissioner for Works in the administration. Ogie is undoubtedly one of the most trusted by the governor as a political ally with whom he has intimately related right from the Comrade Battle days at the Election Petitions Tribunal. Until recently, it was thought, in some APC circles, that Ogie could emerge as a top contender with irreversible advantages for the race. He has been able to build respectable outreach among party members in his viable capacity as Chief of Staff and Commissioner for Works.

And now to (Rtd) General Charles Airhiavbere who is a former governorship candidate of the PDP but crossed to APC after the 2015 presidential election. In fairness to the General, he fought gallantly for his former party with huge financial outlays but immediately pledged unflinching loyalty to APC after President Buhari’s victory. Indeed, it is widely believed that Airhiavbere’s cross-over served the APC interest during the 2015 House of Assembly Election. It remains to be seen if the General can rapidly acquire enough trust to be fully embraced as a cherished member of the APC family, particularly in a game where time is of the essence.

Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi is part of the phenomenal concept of continuous elevation of public service for achieving new possibilities. It is his idea that a people can overcome and surmount the hurdles and obstacles of their current circumstances to achieve new heights. In a state where most of the elite who have attained a level of financial comfort are less committed to economic empowerment of the broader citizenry, Engineer Ogiemwonyi is a distinguished exception. In local parlance, Ogiemwonyi has attracted to himself, the appellation of “Ogiaru” (it is doable) because the word Impossible has left his dictionary.

While serving in various top capacities in NNPC, Ogiemwonyi is known to have assisted a considerable number of Edo people. A former Minister of State for Works, Ogiemwonyi is favourably considered among some of APC and state-wide elite as a viable aspirant.

He is, however, assessed as deficient in his ability to link up and mobilise the foot soldiers, the infantry of the party who will conduct the ground level struggles for victory. Undoubtedly, Ogiemwonyi is one of the aspirants to carefully watch in our search for the “Iroko” among the trees on the APC gubernatorial landscape.

Mr.  Oteghe Adams, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Benin city, Edo State.