Politics

February 22, 2024

Edo guber: Anxiety as 10 aspirants fight for PDP ticket today

Edo guber: Anxiety as 10 aspirants fight for PDP ticket today

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon & Ozioruva Aliu

BENIN CITY — THERE is anxiety as 10 aspirants lock horns for the governorship ticket of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State today. The 10 aspirants cleared to contest the Governorship primary are Hon. Omosede Igbinedion; former chairman Edo State APC, Anselem Ojezua; former chairperson of Esan West Local Government Area, Felix Akhabue; Felix Akhabue, former managing director of Sterling Bank, Dr Asue Ighodalo; Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu; Arthur Esene, former House of Representatives member, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama; Amb. Martin Uhumoibi, Osaro Onaiwu and Umoru Hadizat. No fewer than 576 delegates will decide the fate of the 10 aspirants at the primaries holding at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin.

The exercise will be conducted by an electoral committee chaired by Zamfara State Governor, Dauda Lawal with Governor Sheriff Oborevwhori of Delta as co-chairman. Other members of the committee are Senator James Manager (secretary), Senator Bayero Nafada, Mrs Nella Rabana, SAN, Hadiza Mustapha and Chief Felix Hyatt.

The party’s State Organising Secretary, Tony Anenih Jr in a statement released the processes of the exercise, highlighting where the delegates and other people involved in the process including the media would gather, how they would be accredited and how the exercise would be conducted.

Intrigues as two horse-race looms

After weeks of consultations amid high-wire intrigues, a host of the aspirants are upbeat over their chances of winning the ticket in what is panning out as a two-horse race between Ighodalo and Ogbeide-Ihama.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Governor Godwin Obaseki-backed aspirant, Dr. Ighodalo, would emerge as the governorship candidate of the PDP. Protesting aspirants may be present It was gathered late yesterday that the eight grumbling aspirants may be at the venue of the election contrary to earlier insinuations that they may hold parallel congress. Ighodalo could emerge because virtually all the adhoc and national delegates that would participate in the process emerged through the delegates elections that the other aspirants did not participate in. While some of the aspirants were still contemplating attending the congress or not, Ighodalo was said to have visited Hon Omosede Igbinedion, daughter of the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who last week declared that she was abiding by the outcome of the delegates congress because she was a loyal party person.

I’ll take part — Ojezua

Meanwhile, one of the prominent members of the aggrieved PDP governorship aspirants, Barrister Anslem Ojezua, when contacted last night said despite the obvious flaws and complaints that greeted the exercise, he would partake in the exercise.

He said: “We are party men and women. In spite of the flaws that we have found in the process, we have followed the process to this point, so we will get to the end of it and see if this last part will be worth the effort. We are taking advantage of all our options. I don’t see why I should chicken out. But for my colleagues I think they are in a better position to speak for themselves.”

As at the time of filing this report, it was not clear whether the Deputy Governor of the state, Comrade Philip Shaibu would participate as he could not be reached but a close aide said he would be part of the process irrespective of the anticipated outcome.

Profile of the aspirants

Shaibu

He is the current deputy governor and hails from Jattu, Uzaiure in Etsako West local government area of Edo North Senatorial District.

He says he is the most experienced to take over from Obaseki and that in the history of the PDP, the governorship ticket has never been given to anybody from Edo North. He was in the House of Assembly for eight years before he was elected into the House of Representatives in 2015 from where he rose to become the deputy governor in 2016. He left the All Progressives Congress, APC, with Governor Obaseki in 2020 to the PDP and they were reelected for a second term. Enumerating his achievements as Edo deputy governor, Shaibu said his campaign will be built on five pillars vital to the development of the state.

He said: “I’ve fought the good fight for you my people. Along the way, suffered humiliation and enjoyed many moments of victory. But I’m thankful for everything. I’ve been pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, badly hurt but not destroyed,” he added. “I resonate with the tireless and irrepressible spirit of the Edo people. By the grace of God, nothing and no one can stop us. “After all, I am the original Edo son. One hundred percent home boy.

This is why today, I stand before you with great conviction and resolve as I declare my intention to run for the office of the governor of Edo state under the platform of the PDP in the upcoming 2024 elections. “I am confident, with your support, we can take Edo state to even greater heights. My fellow citizens and party faithful, our campaign will be built on five core pillars, each vital to the transformation and prosperity of our beloved state. Ighodalo He is from Ewohimi in Esan South East local government area. He is from Edo Central Senatorial district and says he has been in government as a member of the Economic Team since 2008 when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was governor of the state.

He has been chairman of Governor Obaseki’s annual Alaghodaro, an economic summit that also serves as technical adviser to the governor on his programmes and policies. Outlining his comprehensive vision for Edo’s future, emphasizing key initiatives to improve the lives of the people and reposition the State as Africa’s leading economy, he said: “When I look at Edo State, for instance, how can we enhance the economic situation for our people? How can we improve agriculture, boost employment, and ensure that people have money in their pockets? “There are also challenges with basic amenities like water, electricity, and roads. We need to address these issues. Edo State is blessed with abundant resources, both natural and human, and it has the potential to become the leading State in the country and Africa. To achieve this, we must take strategic steps and make the needed decisions.

Ojezua

A native of Eidenu in Irrua, Esan central local government area was the state chairman of the APC before he defected with Obaseki to the PDP. He says he is the stabilizer and a bridge between the technocrats and the politicians and that he has the experience and capacity to bring all the warring factions in the PDP together and win the election for the party. Anselm Ojezua was a founding member of the PDP. In 2002, he was appointed Secretary Glory 2003 which was the special purpose vehicle established by Lucky Igbinedion to undertake the responsibility of ensuring his reelection as Governor of Edo State.

Between 2003 and 2012, he served in the Edo State Government in various capacities including but not limited to Deputy Chief of Staff (2003 -2005), Commissioner for Youth and Sport (2005-2007), Chairman of Post Primary Education Board (2009 – 2010), Commissioner for Information & Orientation 2010 – 2011, Commissioner of Lands, Survey and Housing (2011 – 2012). He also supervised the Ministries of Works and Education concurrently at some point during the period. In May 2014 he was elected State Chairman of the APC in Edo State for a term of four years.

He was re-elected for an unprecedented second term in 2018.

Akhabue

He is from Esan Central and his popularity lies in his tenure as the chairman of the council where he also became the National President of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON. He is a grassroots politician and his followers and supporters believe that he is the person to bring governance back to the grassroots.

Akhabue, who describes himself as the Edo Star Home Boy, said: “I have come to offer myself to serve, I can’t do it alone, I need all the support both in Human and Material resources from all members of the party, as well as all the citizens. Assuring the party leaders and members from Edo Central Senatorial District, he said he has the capacity and capabilities to win the election and deliver good governance that the party and the citizens will be very proud of. Expressing confidence, he asserted: “Trusting God that I will be your Candidate, be the Incoming Governor, I will serve you, and We shall do the work together through collaboration and understanding, and the citizens shall be glad that the PDP produced a candidate like me”.

Ogbeide-Ihama

Arguably the most popular among all the aspirants, he broke the jinx of a member from Oredo Federal Constituency going for two terms in the House of representatives since 1999. He has a good following among the masses of the state and he is the preference of the Legacy Coalition Group in the party that is not disposed to the administrative style of Governor Obaseki. He won the PDP ticket in 2020 but stepped down for Obaseki when the latter defected to the PDP.

On his vision for Edo State, Ogbeide-Ihama said: “I want to bring development to Edo State. I want to empower our youths so that they can stand on their own. I want to stop child mortality. There is no reason anyone above 70 years in Edo State should lack healthcare. I want to give quality free healthcare to our aged parents. Edo will be a state all of us would be proud of with Ogbeide-Ihama as governor.”

Onaiwu

Onaiwu is the pioneer Director General of the PDP Governors Forum and he says he is a founding member of the PDP and that he has the experience and the reach to deliver the state for the party.

Igbinedion Omosede

Igbinedion, a lawyer, was in the House of Representatives between 2015 and 2019 representing Ovia Federal Constituency.

She said it is “Woman O’ Clock” that the party must have its first female governorship candidate. She said she delivered the highest number of votes for the PDP when the party lost scandalously to the Labour Party, LP, in the 2023 general election.

Born into the family of the Esama of Benin kingdom, she sees herself as a bridge between the youths and women, she is optimistic that she would emerge the first female governor of Edo State. According to her, “I want to be the reference to every girl child in Nigeria believing that they can be anything they want to be.”

Arthur Esene

For Arthur Esene, he explains that job creation is key in his agenda for the people of the state when he is elected governor.

Besides, Esene promises to prioritise youths and women employment opportunities.

Martin Uhumoibi

Ambassador Martin Uhumoibi served as the third President of the United Nations Human Rights Council and Chair of the World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly. Uhomoibhi holds a PhD in modern history and international relations from Oxford University (United Kingdom), a master’s degree in history and political science and a bachelor’s degree in political science both from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. The former ambassador described himself as a viable candidate that has the character, credibility and the global connection to attract international investors to Edo State, He added that Edo in history is unique and that it is possible for the state to be a role model to other states in Nigeria, saying “if you have a scholar or technocrat as governor of Edo state, the state will experience a good governance that will transform its economy.