Although the governorship election in Edo State holds next year, there appears in the offing for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), a herculean task both for Governor Adams Oshiomhole and leaders of the party over which senatorial district the governorship candidate will emerge from as the party is likely to conduct its primaries between December 2015 and January 2016.
The incumbent Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who hails from Edo North senatorial district will serve out his second tenure comes November, 2016. Expectedly, the battle for the APC governorship ticket will be between Edo South and Edo Central senatorial districts.
Aspirants seeking the APC ticket are quietly strategizing and lobbying political stakeholders underground following stern warning by the governor not to heat up the polity since the election is still far away. Few of the aspirants have since returned to their businesses while those serving under the present government are depending on their trusted political allies to taste the waters ahead of 2016.
The APC governorship hopeful include: Edo State deputy governor, Dr Pius Odubu; Barrister Ken Imansuagbon; Edo State Commissioner for Works, Barrister Osarodion Ogie, and former governor Oseriemen Osunbor. While the PDP on the hand also parades the likes of former Secretary to the Edo state government, (SSG), Barrister Osagie Ize Iyamu; Dr Iyobosa Edebiri; Hon Mathew Iduoriekemwen and Senator Ehigie Uzamere, respectively.
From political permutation, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may have resolved to zone its governorship ticket to Edo South senatorial district, a zone which constitutes over 60% of the voting population in the state.
A National leader of PDP and former BOT member of the party, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, recently launched Edo Mass Movement (EMM), with the sole aim of shopping for a credible candidate that will succeed and continue with the development stride of Governor Oshiomhole. The candidate according to the founder may come from any political party in state.
Despite several assurances by the APC to conduct a free, fair and acceptable primary, speculation is rife that the governor and the leadership of the party may eventually settle for a consensus candidate from Edo South senatorial district, a plan causing ripples in the party and is being kicked against by political stakeholders from Edo central senatorial district.
Leaders in the district argued that should the party renege on its promise to conduct an open primary and settle for a consensus candidate, it would amount to crass injustice to the people of the zone owing to the fact that it remains the only district which has not had the full opportunity to produce the governor aside the 18 months of governor Osunbor which was short-lived.
However, serious aspirants who are determined to become the Chief Executive Officer of the state are spreading their political dragnets to win more grounds as part of the build-up to the party’s primary while others are said to be relying on the governor to hand over the party’s ticket to them at the expense of other aspirants.
But in an apparent move to ensure that justice and fair-play is considered by the leaders of APC as the party prides itself as truly democratic in its dealings, the President, Alliance for Good Governance, (AGG), a political pressure group in the state, Comrade Friday Eromosele, insisted that Esan people in the state remain the most marginalized in terms of producing the next governor.
His words: “Since the administration of the late Professor Ambrose Alli, what we the Esans are asking for is to be given the opportunity to produce the next governor that will take over from Governor Oshiomhole. We have always supported our brothers from Edo North and South senatorial districts in previous elections. It is only fair that we should be extended the same hand of fellowship. The Esans are saying it is their turn to produce the governorship as they have not done so since 1979”.
The group specifically noted that former governor Osunbor, a distinguished professor of law and Barrister Kenneth Imansuagbon from Esan land are eminent sons that can deliver on the promise of a better Edo state if given the governorship ticket.
Eromosele said: “Imansuagbon has continued to demonstrate that he is ready for the Number One job in state judging by his philanthropic gesture to the needy. His annual free rice donation regardless of political affiliation have put smiles on the faces of Edo people every December coupled with his scholarship award to pupils and students in tertiary institutions. All these are from his personal fund which he deplores to the welfare of the down-trodden and that alone is responsible for his intimidating rising political profile. If you can recall, he was a major financial of what has transformed into APC today”
“What we expect is for the governor to ignore pressure on him to impose anybody on the party. He should allow all the aspirants go to the field and test their popularity among the delegates. Whoever emerges in a clean primary will be acceptable to all and not the ego-tripping by some aspirants that they have been anointed”.
It would be recalled that Imansuagbon was formally received into the APC from the PDP by the leader of the party in his ward, Mr Victor Eboigbe and the Chairman of the APC in the Council, Chief Chris Aghughu. His defection into the APC brought victory to the party in his locality.
Corroborating an earlier position that the APC will not impose any candidate on the party, Oshiomhole reiterated that “the beautiful thing here is that as the governor of the state, this is my own constituency, this is my own ward and I don’t have to call people to emerge because I think that if a man cannot win a primary election on his own, then how can he expect to win a popular election and if I decree and use or misuse my office to impose somebody at that level of the primaries, during the popular election, will I have the power to impose that person on the electorate? When we begin to realise that the votes count, then our democracy is on”.
The governor further stressed that the party has not endorsed any candidate and added “As you can see, I have only one vote and I cannot order the rest not to contest nor can I ask everybody to vote for that person. So all of these are small lessons if we imbibe them, our democracy will grow from strength to strength”. Oshiomhole was quoted to have stated.
However, some misgivings over the agitation to cede the ticket of the party to Esanland were recently expressed by Comrade Mathew Emhiohe, a Chieftain of the party from Ugbegun ward in Esan Central local government area. He emphatically submitted that open disunity among APC party leaders and the seeming lack of rally political figure in the district may be the biggest undoing of the zone.
He opined “My worries is that APC in Edo central is severely divided, we are not as united as we were during past elections. What Ifear is going to kill us in the district is the division and disunity among leaders of the party. We have many factions, you cannot get a leader to call for a meeting where every other leader will honour and attend. The only leader that can summon a meeting of APC leaders in Esan land is only Comrade Adams Oshiomhole but he is not an Esan man, and cannot be an Esan leader. I saw former governor Osunbor as someone who can bring everybody together and a rally point. But I understand he is nursing a governorship ambition. We need somebody in the calibre of Tony Anenih. Any patriotic Esan man will be happy to have the next governor come from the district. If we are not given the slot it will amount to dis-service to the people. We can only get what we want if there is unity among us. But I think that when the time comes we shall address all these teething issues. So long as this disunity remains we are going to miss a lot of things.
However, for the APC to re-enact the 2012 political victory factors such as senatorial district the candidate hails from and the age-long supremacy.