Adibe Emenyonu writes that the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State looks good to cause an upset in the governorship election in the state, if it manages critical decisions at its upcoming congress well
It is expected that with the bad blood and crisis within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, its rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would take the advantage to block all loopholes, emerge stronger and take over governance in the state.
Late last year, when the party caucus led by former governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion hosted a meeting in his residence in Benin City, a statement emerged that the party agreed that positions; particularly the state chairmanship and governorship will not be zoned.
It was said that the philosophy behind it is to throw up the emergence of credible persons. The statement which was signed by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Chris Nehikhare, noted that the decision was taken to enable the party, “seek for the best materials for both positions irrespective of senatorial district.”
The party leaders at the meeting to discuss what they termed; “Roadmap to 2020,” also unanimously agreed that the stewardship of the party chairman, Chief Dan Orbih and that of his executive had been exemplary and worthy of praise. All the speakers from Chief Tom Ikimi, who spoke on behalf of Edo Central to Senator Victor Oyofo, who spoke on behalf of Edo North and HE Lucky Igbinedion for Edo South, affirmed this position.
According to the statement, “It was agreed that it was the responsibility of the National Working Committee (NWC) to conduct congresses that will usher in a new exco at the end of the tenure of the present executive. It was resolved that the Chairman at the earliest possible time will liaise with the National Working committee (NWC) to know the time table for Edo congresses coming up in early 2020.
“It was also resolved that the positions of chairman and governorship will not be zoned as the party must seek for the best materials for both positions irrespective of senatorial district.”
The leaders canvassed for unity, peace and fairness, with the party hoping to benefit from the problems in APC by marketing and expanding the PDP frontiers in the state.
Also present at the meeting was Mr. Kenneth Imansuangbon, popularly known as ‘Rice Man’ and Gideon Ikhine who are governorship aspirants from Edo Central senatorial district as well as Senator Matthew Urhoghide, representing Edo South in the Senate, and Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, representing Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
The outcome of that meeting was welcomed by everyone in attendance irrespective of tribal leaning.
However, recent developments after that famous declaration appeared to be dividing the party with the incumbent chairman of the party, whose tenure expires by March this year, plotting to plant a successor in the person of Senator Odion Ugbesia from Edo Central which negates the earlier arrangement that the position will not be zoned, rather that interested aspirants should be allowed to contest.
In addition to this, there are surreptitious moves by some powers that be to zone the governorship position to Edo South with the calculation that the ruling APC will surely bring a candidate from the zone.
The permutation which is tearing the party apart is that should APC candidate come from Edo South district which controls more than half of the voting population, PDP stands no chance if its candidate should come from elsewhere, hence the support given to Ogbeide -Ihama from Edo South.
Suspecting betrayal of the agreement of no-zoning, chieftains of the party from the Central senatorial district, rose from a caucus meeting of leaders at Uromi with a demand to zone the position of governorship in the coming primary of the party to the district.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, the PDP leaders including Mr. Hilary Ekhoye, Mr. Richard Okosun, Mr. John Yakubu, Broderick Itua, Mr. Gideon Ikhine, Kenneth Imansuangbon and Mrs. Julie Okosun among others said the agenda of the Esan people in Edo state is to become the next governor the state on the platform of the party because the post has eluded them for the past 20 years of democracy in the state.
Speaking on behalf of others, Ekhoye said, “What we have resolved at that meeting is that Esan must produce the next governor of this state. That is our consensus decision that is the position of Esan, we are not going for any other position. What we are asking now is that other senatorial districts should join us in our demand because Esan is the home of PDP in Edo state. We may not arrive there easily but we are going to continue to discuss with people in Edo North and Edo South to give us this opportunity because this is what we want. There may be a few people who may not agree with us because of their selfish ambition but that is our general agreement.”
On his part, Imansuangbon, said the party in the state has no choice than to abide by its earlier stand of no-zoning, adding the intervention of the party National Chairman, Uche Secondus, who reaffirmed the no-zoning formula of the party.
He therefore appealed for calm but frowned at the activities of some mischief makers who are hell bent on forcing people to do their bidding, reminding the party in Edo not to forget too soon what imposition caused PDP in Bayelsa.
According to him, if the PDP leadership in Edo allow a popular candidate, they should be rest assured that the game is over for the APC irrespective of the candidate they may field, noting, “I am not one of those who think it is over for PDP if the process is not free and fair.”
Another governorship aspirant of the party, Ikhine said Edo state is made up of three senatorial districts, North, South and Central, arguing that in the state, it is only the central district that has always won elections for the PDP in the state.
It is against this backdrop he said the district has resolved to discuss and negotiate with the two other senatorial districts that what it wants is the governorship slot. He recalled that Chief Lucky Igbinedion was governor for eight years. There was the brief tenure of Osunbor. Then it was zoned to Edo North. After that time, the governorship position which was supposed to come to the central, was again taken to the South.
“It was at that point in time we said it was the turn of Edo Central, but Ize-Iyamu ran and we lost. Before that the chance was given to Charles Aivebere, but we also lost. In the past 20 years of the PDP, the Esan man has not been given the chance to aspire to be Governor of Edo state,” he said.
Nevertheless, at a rally in Edo North to recruit new members, the Afemai agenda surfaced as a working document for PDP members from the area who seek the position of secretary of the party and governorship.
Stating the position of the zone made up of six local government areas, tagged; “Afemai Declaration 2020,” Oladele Bankole, House of Representatives candidate of PDP for Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency in 2019, said to bring government closer to the people of the area, the party must zone to the district, the position of party scribe and deputy governorship in its coming congress, adding that the district also deserves two slots on the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party.
Incidentally, intrigues and self-survival plots by each of the zones to outdo each other had created suspicion among the critical players. This prompted the party youth wing to seek Secondus’ intervention over imposition plot that may likely sink the party’s chances if unchecked.
Coordinator of the PDP youths under the name, PDP Youths for Justice, Alhaji Musa Kadiri, in a statement issued, tasked Secondus to tackle Edo PDP crisis at the party’s National Working Committee meeting scheduled to take place in Abuja.
Kadiri said Senator Ugbesia was not fit to pilot the affairs of the Edo PDP adding that the best option for the party was to be united and strong after the congresses before it can revert back to its zoning principles.
He accused the PDP state chairman, Chief Dan Orbih of attempting to kill the party after his tenure which was why he was pushing for Ugbesia. He further said that Ugbesia achieved nothing as a Senator and could not lead Edo PDP to the seat of power.
The chairmanship position he suggested should be zoned to the Owan axis of Edo North or Edo South senatorial district which has not produced the chairman since 1999.
Also, the Concerned Youth Forum of Edo PDP led by Mr. Obaruakporo John blamed Chief Orbih for the party’s failure to produce a governor in Edo in his 12 years as the party chairman.
Obaruakporo said Edo Central has won all elections for PDP from Presidential to House of Assembly since 1999 except in 2019 when the chairman forced all the candidates on the party and it resulted to total failure.
He said the Edo Central has never produced Governor or Deputy Governor in the state pointing that in all previous elections, governorship has always been zoned but now that it was obviously the turn of Edo Central to produce the party governorship candidate, the Orbih-led leadership planned a coup against Edo Central by leaving the zoning open to all for contest but this is not happening without some traitors from Edo Central collaborating with Orbih to effect his plan.
“Edo South leaders have consistently maintained that they would love to see an Esan man from Edo Central become Governor but for the traitors from Esanland who have in the past been beneficiaries of late Chief Anthony Anenih’s goodwill have resolved in betraying the mandate of Esanland in demanding for the Governorship slot.
“Today we are all looking forward to PDP producing a winning Chairman in the forthcoming congress and saying goodbye to a chairman that was never able to bring PDP back to Government House, Benin City.
“PDP must get it right without allowing the outgoing Chairman to force failure of the past on the incoming executive; if they are serious about the future of the PDP in Edo State,” he said.
Reaffirming is interest in the chairmanship contest, Ugbesia said nothing would stop his ambition adding that the agitating youths need prayers because many local government chairmen of the party have pledged support his candidacy.
Incidentally, intrigues and self-survival plots by each of the zones to outdo each other had created suspicion among the critical players. This prompted the party youth wing to seek Secondus’ intervention over imposition plot that may likely sink the party’s chances if unchecked. Coordinator of the PDP youths under the name, PDP Youths for Justice, Alhaji Musa Kadiri tasked Secondus to tackle Edo PDP crisis at the party’s National Working Committee meeting scheduled to take place in Abuja