OBASEKI’S SUCCESOR: How PDP, APC, LP candidates stand

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OBASEKI
  • 2020 scenario may repeat itself – APC chieftain
  • Again, Shaibu goes to court to avert impeachment
  • Ighodalo may pick Obaseki’s SSG, Ogie, as running mate
  • Lamidi Apapa remains expelled, his illegality’ll not stand – LP

With the emergence of political parties’ governorship candidates in the off-season Edo gubernatorial poll scheduled for September 21 this year, the political temperature in the state is heating up by the day as the people of Edo State are already feeling the heat of the governorship politics ahead of the titanic battle of the giants.

The three major political parties in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress, People’s Democratic Party, and the Labour Party, have all got their candidates ahead of the gubernatorial race.

Barring any last minute hitches, all of them will participate in the fierce electoral contest to determine who among them will succeed Governor Godwin Obaseki to occupy the Osadebey Government House in Benin City.

Unfortunately, all the parties’ primaries ended in confusion and produced more than one candidate in the three major political parties.

It is likely that some of the parties may enter the poll with two or more candidates considering the galaxy of stars that feature in the exercise.

Consequently, the crisis rocking the APC in Edo State following the outcome of its controversial gubernatorial primary election took another shape on Saturday as one of the aspirants, Dennis Idahosa, led his supporters on a protest to the Buhari House National Secretariat in Abuja to totally reject the result announced by the committee chairman, Governor Bassey Otu.

Idahosa, a front-runner to the ticket was earlier announced winner of the primary election conducted by the Governor Hope Uzodimma-led Committee but the result could not stand because of the primaries that produced parallel candidates the same day.

The Party’s National Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, declared the process not concluded and scheduled a new day for the conclusion which now produced Senator Monday Okpebholo as the party’s gubernatorial candidate for the September 21 gubernatorial election.

Idahosa in rejecting the outcome even as the party’s NWC has issued Certificate of Return to Senator Okpebholo, tagged the process a rape of democracy and justice and threatened to seek redress in court if the party refused to reverse the result.

In an effort to quench the fiery fire about to consume the party’s chances of reclaiming the Dennis Osadebe Avenue Government House which it lost in 2020 in an imbroglio akin to the present situation, a very prominent aspirant, Prince Clem Agba has collapsed his aspirations and threw his weight behind Sen. Okpebholo as the party’s candidate.

Agba, in a statement titled, ‘My Stand on the Outcome of APC’s Governorship Primary Election said he has decided to work in the best interest of the party “as a loyal party man”.
He said, “I have called Senator Monday Okpebholo to congratulate him on his candidature and assure him of my support in the journey to Osadebe Avenue.

“I, therefore, use this medium to call on my supporters to join me in working with Senator Monday Okpebholo for the party’s governorship election victory in September. Let us do what is best for our party to secure victory in Edo State.

“Also, let me thank all the members of my campaign council and team for a well-run race. We were able to elevate the conversation and show that there is hope and a place for the right policies and initiatives to transform our state.

“I want to thank all aspirants for giving a good contest and showing that Edo APC is well and truly alive.

“To the other aspirants, our supporters, and members of the party, while each of us might have one issue or another with the process so far, we must, in the interest of the party, come together, unite and fight to win the general elections.

“We must ensure that APC Edo remains united because that is the only path to victory. It is a long road ahead, but undoubtedly one that spells well for the future of Edo State. It is my wish that together, we can heal and forge a path forward as the general elections approach,” he said.

In total support of Agba’s call for unity in Edo APC, the acting state chairman, Emperor Jarret Tenebe called on all aspirants and their supporters to put the interest of the party first.

“Some of us (politicians) are very greedy. We want to decide everything for the party and by so doing; we derail the party’s chances.”

He said the delegates who are critical stakeholders have made their choice which must be respected adding that the choice of Okpebholo remains the best tool the party needs to humble the other political parties in the September 21 off-cycle governorship election in the state.

Tenebe assured the party that they have chosen the right candidate that will lead in the quest to reclaim the state.

He said, “Okpebholo is more qualified than the candidates of the two other contending parties; the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Asuelimen Ighodalo and the Labour Party (LP), Olumide Akpata.”

However, Idahosa, member of the House of Representatives in the 10th Assembly remains undaunted to the party’s call for reconciliation even as Okpebholo extended hand of fellowship to all contestants.

Idahosa alleged that the “fictitious results” declared by Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River State-led committee represented the highest level of rape on democracy ever witnessed in Edo State.

He said, “Events in the last few days may have been very disappointing and demoralizing to lots of people as your votes seemed not to have counted going by the process and declaration of fictitious primary election results of what happened on the field on the 22nd re-run elections in the 192 wards of the State.

“Let me assure you all, our teaming supporters that, I shall explore all the party internal mechanisms to resolve the issues, and seek justice and where that doesn’t work, I shall communicate with you all on our next line of action,” he said

A party chieftain and member of the NWC who preferred anonymity told The Point that the crisis if not well managed will deal a devastating blow to the party’s chances of reclaiming its place as the ruling party in Edo State.

Our source who blamed greedy politicians who want to always have their way in deciding what happens in the party both at national and state levels said the scenario that played out in 2020 when the party lost its place as a ruling party by refusing to give a sitting governor ticket for second term was about repeating but thanks to the wise decision of the NWC that the primary should be concluded.

“Some of us (politicians) are very greedy. We want to decide everything for the party and by so doing; we derail the party’s chances. Our party had no business being in opposition in Edo State. We were the ruling party for 12 years and still the ruling party going into the 2020 governorship election but all of a sudden, APC became an opposition party because the sitting governor moved to the opposition party with our seat and reason being that those who saw themselves as bigger than the party refused to give the governor a ticket for second term.

“Moves akin to the 2020 scenario were what the same people made, deceiving the party hierarchy but thank God for our leadership that believes too much in internal democracy otherwise, our party would have ended up making another mistake that will cost us the Government House again for the next four years. We at the NWC did not influence who emerged as the party’s candidate that was why our chairman gave free hands to the National Organizing Secretary, Suleiman Argungu and the primary election committee to do their job and let Edo people choose their best candidate for the party. But this is the best time for us to encourage unity by bringing all the aggrieved parties to a round table and make peace. But one thing we must do is to instill party supremacy.”

Also, in the spirit of sportsmanship and the best interest of the party “as a loyal party man”, Ernest Umakhihe has also congratulated Okpebholo.

In his congratulatory message, Umakhihe opined that APC has demonstrated the true meaning of internal democracy with Okpebholo’s election as the party’s candidate for the September 21, 2024 governorship election.

“I salute the leadership and especially the victor, who have emerged from the exercise.

“As you prepare to commence the campaign activities, please be assured of my support.

“May God grant you the wisdom and strength to carry the banner of the APC to victory,” he said.

Again, Shaibu goes to court to avert impeachment

Meanwhile, the factional candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Philip Shaibu, is to approach the court this week to avert any attempt by the Edo State House of Assembly to impeach him.

A source very close to the embattled Deputy Governor told The Point on Sunday that Shaibu’s legal teams “are miles ahead of the state government to use the House of Assembly to carry out a hatchet job.”

Asked what the Deputy Governor was up to, the source said, “The court remains the last hope of every common man in Nigeria. Is Obaseki above the law? Is the Edo State House of Assembly? Let’s wait and see,” the source hinted.

Shaibu vowed on Saturday to carry on with his preparations even if doing so would cause his impeachment by the state House of Assembly.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Shaibu described himself as the authentic candidate, noting that the primary that produced Asue Ighodalo was nothing short of a social party attended by “people who wore aso ebi from all over the place.”

On whether the Independent National Electoral Commission monitored the primary election that produced him, Shaibu spoke affirmatively without going into details.

“INEC and the party were there but I will not disclose a lot. If we don’t go to court, fine. But if we do go to court, all this information will be unveiled,” he threatened.

Ighodalo may pick Obaseki’s SSG, Ogie, as running mate

The Point also learnt over the weekend that Ighodalo may pair with the current Secretary to State Government, Osarodion Ogie, as his running mate.

Ogie is a formidable political figure in Edo State who many see as the only face of the Obaseki administration and a likeable fellow with the innate ability to galvanise votes because of his uncommon magnanimity and empathy which cut across every political divide.

Ogie was born on September 24, 1960. He has his educational background at Eghosa Grammar School, Benin City; University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where he bagged LL.B between 1981-1985 before he proceeded to Nigerian Law School for his Bachelor of Law and was called to the Bar in 1986.

From there, he became the Principal Partner, Osarodion Ogie & Co until politics beckoned on him and he was appointed Chief of Staff to Adams Oshiomhole (2008-2012); Works Commissioner (2012-2016).

He was also the Director General, Godwin Obaseki Governorship Campaign Team in 2016, before attaining the present position of Secretary to State Government.
Lamidi Apapa remains expelled, his illegality ‘ll not stand – LP

A member of the Labour Party in the state, Marvins Abhulimen, said what was happening in Edo State was not about Nigeria’s democracy but “about our anyhow ness as a nation”.
Abhulimen, an Obidient, noted that politicians had to learn to play by the rules.

He said members of the OBIdients abided by the judgment of the Supreme Court on Tinubu’s victory but Lamidi Apapa, whose Labour party faction was declared illegal by the apex court, went ahead to produce a governorship candidate in Edo State.

“What happened in Edo State is really not about our democracy. It is about our ‘anyhow ness’ as a nation.

“In the last presidential election, some people were not happy. In fact, we in the Obidient Movement were not happy and we believed that the election was rigged.

“However, we did not take to the streets; we did not declare anyone as president. We went to the Supreme Court and after the court told us that the man whom INEC declared as winner was validly elected, no other candidate has gone about parading himself as the president of the country.

“In the Labour Party, Lamidi Apapa’s case has been decided all the way to the Supreme Court and it is already clear that there is no faction in the Labour Party. There is only one chairman and his name is Julius Abure.

“If there is another group that has Apapa as acting chairman and submitting a list of candidates, you should know that is an illegality and it will not stand. So, giving them oxygen or trying to analyze them is giving them the popularity and publicity which they seek.

“I will tell you that in the Labour Party, the state congress was held transparently and was televised live.

“Apapa and his co-travellers, after all the Supreme Court issues, have been expelled from the party; you cannot be expelled and still remain a party member.”

“Therefore, when you now say there is another group somewhere, you have to first ask if the Labour Party is a faction or if there is any place where it was agreed that there is a disagreement.

“Apapa and his co-travellers, after all the Supreme Court issues, have been expelled from the party; you cannot be expelled and still remain a party member,” he said.

Abhulimen, who was the former Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State chapter of KOWA party, said that though all that was happening was the beauty of democracy, it was also one of the problems of democracy.

He argued that politicians create such chaos and confusion for different reasons.

Abhulimen said, “All that is happening is the beauty of democracy. People can gather and call themselves any name but at the end of the day, the rightful group will be recognized.

“So, it is one of the problems of democracy and Nigeria is a growing democracy but with time, I believe we will get better and people will understand that it is not about making noise and trying to divide legitimate groups and cause confusion everywhere.

“Yes, some of them have looked at the situation and said they can still get to the Supreme Court and turn judgment on its head; that might have motivated them. People also want to be in a position where they can be able to negotiate.

“Because in politics, if you can make much noise and cause confusion, it will not only get you noticed but it will also get you an invitation to where you will be asked how you can be placated.”