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Edo 2016: The Very Many Hurdles Facing The APC And PDP - Politics - Nairaland

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Edo 2016: The Very Many Hurdles Facing The APC And PDP by webplay: 9:41pm On Apr 11, 2016
The APC

There are at least 11 governorship contenders for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State. Those already well known include: Godwin Obaseki, Pius Odubu, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Ken Imansuangbon, Blessing Agbomhere, Oserheimen Osunbor, Professor Ebegue Amadasun, Ilenre Emuan, Peter Esele, General Charles Airiavbere (rtd) and Don Pedro Obaseki. Six of the aspirants are from the Edo South (Benin) senatorial district, four from the central (Esan) and just one from the North (Afemai), the zone of incumbent Governor Adams Oshiomhole

The reason for the “crowd” in the APC is not farfetched. After dislodging the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Aso Rock last year, the APC in Edo, just like other states, turned to a beautiful bachelorette with many suitors. The aspirants seemed to be saying, “Once I get the APC ticket, I’m already a governor.” So, they move in droves to the new ruling party. The allure was too much, and not even the biggest critics of the APC in the state could resist joining the party in order to become governor. Perhaps in order to decimate the PDP, Governor Adams Oshiomhole also encouraged many frontline politicians in the PDP to join the APC, arguing that the ship could accommodate all.

Former PDP governor, Oserheimen Osunbor, hardly waited for the announcement of President Muhammadu Buhari as the president-elect before he joined the APC and quickly offered himself as a governorship aspirant. He was not alone. At about the same time, the 2012 governorship aspirant of the PDP, Charles Airhiavbere, also joined the APC and declared his governorship ambition. The duo of Osunbor and Airhiavbere were later joined in the APC by the deputies, Lucky Imasuen and Johnson Abolagba respectively. At the end of the defections, the last two governorship candidates of the PDP and their deputies were in the APC.

Another PDP chieftain, who joined the APC so as to become governor, is business mogul, Kenneth Imansuangbon. Some see him as a perpetual governorship aspirant. He also joined during last general election and helped his new party to win the state House of assembly election in his constituency. It was not the first time he was changing political party. He was among the renegades who left the PDP in 2007 but return early enough to participate in the party’s governorship primaries in 2012. Former Minister of State for Works, Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, completes the list of former PDP members vying for the APC ticket.

There are other categories of contestants for the ticket. In this group are successful Edo entrepreneurs and academics, who felt the next level for them was to govern their state. Some of the names in this category are a professor of Anesthesiology in the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Professor Ebegue Amadasun; an architect, Ilenre Emuan; Don Pedro Obaseki and Blessing Agbomhere. The youthful former president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Peter Esele, is also interested in the ticket. These aspirants, despite their almost zero-political experience and no particular back up by stakeholders, joined the race and are upbeat about their chances.

The large number of aspirants, however, hardly confers any advantage on the APC. Before the arrival of these men, two groups were battling each other for the soul of the Edo APC. They were the Oshiomhole group and the group comprising allies of the deputy governor, Pius Odubu. It was not as if the governor was going for a third term. Like many other governors before him, he just wanted the structure of the Edo APC so that he would be able to influence the choice of his likely successor in office. His deputy, Odubu, wanted his job but his boss did not favour him to replace him. Until recently, the man many thought Oshiomhole was preparing to succeed him was the Commissioner for Works, Osarodion Ogie. So, the tussle was between the Oshiomhole/Ogie’s group and the Odubu group.

The coming of Ogiemwonyi, Imansuangbon and Charles Airhiavbere to the APC meant that Oshiomhole had more than Odubu to contend with in order to pick whoever he deems fit to succeed him. Along with Odubu, these men constitute the biggest challenge for Oshiomhole as he tries to ‘handpick’ a successor. It is no longer a secret that Oshiomhole, after romancing Osarodion Ogie for some time, finally settled for the head of his economic team, Godwin Obaseki, as his preferred candidate.

The handwriting of Oshiomhole is clearly written on the Obaseki project. He has been warned, vilified and attacked for allegedly supporting Obaseki but the governor remains unwavering in his support for him. He has often argued that he was in a vantage position to know what is good for Edo. At the entrance to the Edo State Government House, the campaign banners of Godwin Obaseki could be seen conspicuously placed. The aspirant has been moving around in company with commissioners and other high-ranking members of the Oshiomhole government. It is as if a ministry has been created by government to tackle any barrier that could prevent Obaseki from winning the APC primaries.

These men could make or mar the chances of the APC to retain the state. They are rich and are not taking their ambitions lightly. They have continually complained about the way Oshiomhole is going about the Obaseki project, alleging that the governor was willing to deploy fair or foul means to give victory to Obaseki. They are not the only aspirants complaining about Oshiomhole’s interest in Obaseki, as virtually all the other aspirants except Obaseki have expressed the same sentiment. The problem, if not well managed, is capable of upsetting some of the aspirants, who already feel that a level-playing field is not being provided for all the aspirants.

As the primary date approaches, the delegates’ list, the list containing the names of party members, who will vote on the day of the primary election seems to constitute the biggest challenge for the APC. Since the delegates will determine the governorship candidate of the party, all eyes are on the list containing their names. The 3,023 delegates largely comprise elected officials of the party in the wards, local governments and state levels. The list that was produced in 2014 after the inaugural congress of the APC is, however, becoming controversial. Some of the governorship aspirants including Odubu, Imansuangbon and Ogiemwonyi particularly accused the leadership of the party in the state of of tampering with the delegates’ list. They claimed the party had secretly doctored the names in order to favour Obaseki.

When a former chieftain of the APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu left the party for the PDP in 2014 after the completion of the congress that produced majority of the delegates, some of the elected delegates left with him. Some of the delegates, who have either died or moved to other parties, are also yet to be replaced. This is the bone of contention in the APC and no one is certain of the plans of the APC leadership regarding the delegates’ list despite claims that the party’s constitution is clear about the matter. There have speculations and questions as to what the party will do or must do in this kind of situation. A lot of questions are being asked. Has the party replaced the names? If the names have been replaced, what procedure was followed in replacing them?

The party has, however, denied the allegation though it did not state if amendment would be done to the list. The state publicity secretary of the APC, Comrade Godwin Erhahon, said the state leadership of the party had since investigated the allegation made against the party chairman, Anslem Ojezua, of tampering with the list and discovered that it was not true. He said it was difficult for anybody to alter the list even though the party constitution provided ways for changing any executive member. “There was no such attempt to alter the delegates’ list. The national chairman who received the petition was yet to respond and the aspirants went on air without waiting for investigation. They were overreaching themselves,” he stated.

Another issue coming up in the APC ahead of the congress is the participation or not of elected councilors and local government chairmen in the congress. The three-year tenure of the councillors and the chairmen is expected to end on April 20, 2016. There are rumours that the governor is planning to extend the tenures of these executive members so that they can participate in the primaries.

It was gathered that the calculation before now was that the primary election would come before the elected council representatives depart office, but the election timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which put the primaries between June and early July, has affected such plan. Many in the state do not think extending the tenures of the councillors and chairmen could help matter, as they described it as an unconstitutional act that the governor would never think about. They reasoned that the wise thing is for the governor to plan his game without looking at the votes that will come from the councilors and chairmen that are supposed to leave office later this month.

Be that as it may, Obaseki remains the candidate to beat in the primaries. Many even already see him as the APC candidate because of the backing of Oshiomhole. They do not see how the governor will lose the primaries of a party he symbolises in Edo and that the Obaseki candidacy is a done deal. Even Obaseki himself recently boasted that while other aspirants were busy complaining that he was being favoured, he was busy campaigning and meeting the delegates individually and in groups.

Some of loyalists of Oshiomhole in the Edo APC have even bought into the Obaseki project and are seriously working towards the goal. One of them, Charles Idahosa, re-echoed what Obaseki said. He declared: “The delegates’ list is a storm in a tea cup. Funny enough, while some of the aspirants are busy quarreling over the list of delegates, the man (Obaseki) they are criticising is busy campaigning to all the delegates, one on one.” He said there would be free and fair party primaries and that whoever APC picks as candidate would beat the candidate of the PDP hands down, saying “the beating of 2012 governorship election will be a child’s play”.

However, among the aspirants challenging Oshiomhole/Obaseki, Odubu, appears the most forceful one, who may prove a hard nut to crack. The deputy governor has men working for him in every part of the state and has been expressing confidence of winning the primaries as long as a level-playing field is provided. Only recently, he hosted about 500 of the delegates in Benin City, the state capital. Those working with him boasted that some delegates are already his coordinators in their respective councils and are completely loyal to him. What he might do if he does not get the party’s ticket is unclear, though the option of declaring for the PDP is not likely.

Last week, an initiative to stop the Obaseki project was uncovered. Findings reveal that the idea is a tripartite arrangement allegedly among Odubu, Chris Ogiemwonyi and Ken Imansuangbon. The plan is said to be to forge a common front and rally support for one of them. In the yet-to-be finalised arrangement, either Odubu or Ogiemwonyi will be supported for the primaries, while Imansuangbon will be picked as running mate to the eventual winner. It is yet-to-be seen who between Odubu and Ogiemwonyi will be willing to let go his ambition. Odubu, in particular, has committed too much to become governor and many do not see him leaving the stage for Ogiemwonyi.

The PDP

The situation in the former ruling party and now opposition party, the PDP, in the state is different from that of the APC. There are just four aspirants vying for the ticket of the party. They are Solomon Edebiri, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, Pastor Osagie Ise-Iyamu and Osaro Onaiwu. All of them are from the Edo South Senatorial District (Benin), where the party technically zoned the ticket. Perhaps, the PDP would have beenbattling with so many aspirants if former President Goodluck Jonathan had won the presidential election last year. It was not a coincidence that two of the aspirants in the APC–Osunbor and Airhiavbere–had been PDP candidate in the past. Another of the APC aspirant, Imansuangbon, is also a two-time PDP governorship aspirant. Charles Airhiavbere, who was PDP candidate in 2012, was actually preparing to contest in the same PDP before moving to APC after the PDP lost Abuja. There could have been more aspirants such as a former Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, Senator Ehigie Uzamere and a former Edo deputy governor, Lucky Imasuen.

...Read the concluding part here:

http://www.edovotes.com/2016/04/11/edo-2016-the-very-many-hurdles-facing-the-apc-and-pdp/
Re: Edo 2016: The Very Many Hurdles Facing The APC And PDP by Nobody: 9:46pm On Apr 11, 2016
What will it cost you to complete it? @op.....
Re: Edo 2016: The Very Many Hurdles Facing The APC And PDP by webplay: 10:03pm On Apr 11, 2016
The concluding part...

With only four aspirants, it is assumed he PDP might have less post-primary crisis to battle with. The successful conduct of wards, local government and state congresses last month, also meant that the status of delegates, who will elect the party’s candidate, is settled. There is also something that appears like unity among the aspirants. Early this year, they were all with the state chairman of the party, Dan Orbih, during a sensitisation tour to all the 18 local government areas of the state. They all preached peace during the tour and vowed to combine forces with whoever among them picks the ticket. They noted that snatching victory from the APC was more important than their individual ambitions. There was, however, a proviso in their promise to work together–conduct of a free, fair and acceptable primary election that is devoid of imposition. This is seen as a subjective statement with varied interpretations. Many have argued that a contest is only free and fair to a politician if he emerged winner and it is not if he did not win.

There is the fear that what happened in 2012 when some of the PDP aspirants and leaders of the party allegedly colluded with the state government to work against the interest of the party, could reoccur. Already, there is an accusation against the leadership of the state PDP of favouring one of the aspirants. This was, however, denied by the state chairman, who claimed the allegation was not limited to a particular aspirant but all of thee contenders for the ticket.”The story is not correct. The interesting thing is that depending on who is making the allegation, some mention an aspirant and some other people still mention another aspirant. It will interest you to know that all the four aspirants have been mentioned as the favoured aspirants. This drives home the point that the allegation is totally baseless.” Orbih had said.

On the chances of the aspirants, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu appears to be the leading aspirant. He is followed by Solomon Edebiri and Matthew Iduoriyekemwen. The trio are the front runners in the race and their ambitions are being supported by different leaders of the party in the state. The fourth aspirant, Osaro Onaiwu, who is the Director-General of the PDP Governors Forum, is ranked as an outsider. Among the PDP leaders reportedly backing Ize-Iyamu are the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Chief Tom Ikimi, Prince Tony Omoaghe and Chief Frank Erewele. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen has the backing of the lawmaker representing Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency, Honourable Ehiozuwa Agbonnayima, while Senator Roland Owei, Honourable Ifaluyi Isibor and Samson Esemuede, are reportedly queuing behind Solomon Edebiri.

It is not clear, who the leader of the PDP in Edo, Chief Tony Anenih, is supporting. Early in the contest, it was speculated that the veteran politician would never support Ize-Iyamu because of the role played by the latter in the series of events that made the PDP lose Edo in 2008. Many feared that Chief Anenih was waiting in the wings to take his own pound of flesh on Ize-Iyamu for allegedly working against the interest of the PDP in 2007. Some people believe that Edebiri is his favoured candidate, while others argue he cannot overlook Iduoriyekemwen this time around because of their past relationships. Knowing the choice of Chief Anenih has further been complicated by the warm reception accorded all the aspirants by the protégés of the Esan Chief such as Senator Odion Ugbesia and Mr John Yakubu.

Some members of PDP in the state, however, prefer that Chief Anenih does not support any of the aspirants and allow them to prove their mettle. Indeed, a likely option for Chief Anenih is to allow the aspirants go to the field without an open support for any of them. Ironically, the aspirants covet the support of Chief Anenih because of his far-reaching influence. By the same measure, the aspirants prefer that he does not give his support to any of them if they cannot secure his personal endorsement.

The greatest political asset attributed to Ize-Iyamu is his ability to shake the APC and bring out politicians from the party to work for his ambition and that of the PDP. This is because he was a foundation member of the precursor of the APC, the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), where he became the South-South vice chairman. He demonstrated this capacity when four APC lawmakers in the Edo State House of Assembly joined him in defecting to the PDP in June, 2014. He has been directly involved in the politics of Edo since 1999, though he cut his political teeth in 1988, when he was assistant to Lucky Igbinedion, when the latter was chairman of the old Oredo Local Government Area. Igbinedion also appointed him Chief of Staff when he became governor in 1999. The following year, he took a step further by emerging Secretary to the state government. He held the position for seven years till 2007 when Lucky Igbinedion completed two terms as governor.

Ize-Iyamu has never contested any election before but he has been deeply involved in many elections and has never been part of a losing team. He was instrumental to the emergence of Oshiomhole as governor, as he joined forces with some other politicians to achieve that goal after being shut out of the PDP. He was Oshiomhole’s campaign director in 2012. When he left the APC in 2014 for the PDP, he was appointed the director of former President Goodluck Jonathan campaign team for the 2015 presidential election. In that election, the PDP won the presidential and National Assembly election in Edo State.

Solomon Edebiri was the candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the last election. He won many hearts with the way he marshaled points during debates organized for the candidates. He led the Edo ANPP group into merger with the ACN and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to form the APC. He joined the PDP in 2014 after complaining that only the ACN group was running the show in the new APC. Edebiri has never occupied any political office before, hence, he is seen as a “decent” politician. He, however, has the outlook of a lightweight politician, who may not be able to tackle the ruling APC. Some people also think that he has not built political structure capable of winning the PDP ticket or the final election.

The other aspirant jostling for the PDP ticket, Iduoriyekemwen, who is a two-term member of the state House of Assembly, contested the governorship election in 2012. He is a former Majority Leader of the Edo Assembly and former commissioner in the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Youthful and energetic, he is working behind the scene to actualise his goal. He describes himself as the only original PDP member among the aspirants as he has never left the party at any time, unlike Ize-Iyamu, who left and returned, and Edebiri, who joined the PDP in 2014. He is also quite popular in his Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area, where he may have upper hand during the primaries.

Culled From The Nigerian Tribune

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