The Contenders and the Pretenders!
Edo People’s Democratic Party, PDP had a decent showing in the 2016 governorship race. It’s candidate, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu was an experienced politician who had built an impressive political network across the state as a result of his over Ten years ambition to become governor and previous political appointments as Chief of Staff to Governor Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion and later Secretary to State Government SSG. In 2012, he was the Director General of Adams Oshiomhole’s successful reelection bid.
As the 2016 governorship election approached, as he failed to get Oshiomhole’s nod as his successor, he found his way to PDP and was rewarded with the ticket. He lost to the incumbent Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki in a nail biting election.
PDP is rich in follower-ship and loyalists. It has remained a formidable opposition since loosing power to the relatively new party, Action Congress, AC in 2007. Some say the party is the most organized and effective, even though it lost the state to Oshiomhole’s metamorphosing Action Congress, Action Congress of Nigeria and now All Progressives Congress in a bloodbath 2007 election.
The 2020 election will be the first major test of the party since the demise of its leader and statesman, Chief Anthony Anenih.
As 2020 approaches, PDP members are desirous of returning to occupy Osadebey avenue. A street they have not occupied since 2008 when the election tribunal ‘curiously’ handed the state to Adams Oshiomhole and his AC.
However, the road to their quest is laced with human-sized bubu traps that may scuttle the aspiration.
Investigation by Midwest Herald revealed that the official party position is that, the position of governor remains unzoned to any of the senatorial district. It is believed this is so, because the party do not want to exclude or deny anyone of its democratic rights and political participation. The facts on ground is at variance.
The consequence of this is that aspirants from both Edo south and Edo Central have flooded the party’s gate. As at last count, only Edo North has not indicated interest.
Leading the contenders from Edo Central, is Mr Ken Imasuagbon, fondly referred to as RiceMan and a new entrant, GIdeon Ikhine, a PortHarcourt based business man, who have thrown their hats in the ring. They are cris-crossing the state visiting and wooing party leaders and potential delegates for their support and endorsement.
RiceMan has a popular face and name but his party leaders points to an issue of ‘worrisome temperament’. Moving forward, Imansuagbon may dedicate ample time to appease many leaders and members because of their complaint on the way he allegedly treated them after he lost his last nomination attempt in 2012 before decamping to APC.
How he fares this time around, depends on whether he had been “forgiven”, according to a leader who volunteered inside inside information to Midwest Herald. According to him, “in PDP everything counts.”
On the other hand, Mr. Gideon Ikhine has served the party loyally even though his efforts have not been visible to the larger PDP family.
For instance, Midwest Herald was told that part of his constraint is his inability to identify leaders of the party outside his Edo Central District, neither can these leaders identify him.
He may have realised his setback and so, decided to embark on early tour of his constituency and other key party key players.
Question is whether Edo PDP will nominate an Edo Central candidate to slug it out with an Edo South candidate of APC?
The readiness of PDP to attempt risky venture with his zoning adventure remains to be seen. Edo Central is not favoured now in the political estimation, at least in 2020 to produce a governor for the state.
It is an unwritten accord that Edo South should complete two terms of Eight years before a realistic consideration of an Edo Central Governor in Denis Osadebey Avenue.
Therein lies the conundrum! Edo Central PDP pragmatic leaders are alleged to be in the forefront of those hoping and dreaming that Governor Godwin Obaseki will decamp to PD and fly the party’s flag.
In their believe, Godwin Obaseki’s second term is the surer and fastest way for an Ishan man to get to Government House, Benin City. With the hiccup Between Mr. Adams Oshiomhole and Obaseki, the leaders hope PDP can provide a home for the governor if the ruling party’s ship hits the rock.
On the other hand, there are PDP leaders who prefers a ‘home grown’ candidate. To them, Obaseki may not represent the spirit of the struggle they have been subjected to since November 12, 2008.
The battleground Zone
Edo south is the largest by landmass as well as most populated senatorial district in Edo State. To become governor in the state, candidates must have the support of the residents and voters of this district. Most PDP leaders hold this conviction. The search here will not be easy because of the lack of interest amongst players in the south.
Senator Mathew Urhoghide
Midwest Herald learnt that the leadership of PDP have approached Senator Matthew Urhoghide to seek the ticket for governorship. His profile they believe is high enough. Afterall, he just won reelection to the senate to represent the senatorial district.
We were told however that he did not give a positive response. Some say he deffered to Pastor Ize-Iyamu to have first refusal. Other believe he is being clever by half, “…as it is common knowledge within the party that Pastor Ize Iyamu said he will only seek the ticket on certain conditions.” Many leaders and members are of the opinion that Senator Urhoghide is interested but wants to play “hard to get”.
They opined that, “as at today, Senator Matthew Urhoghide is in a subtle manner working towards the ticket.” But his usual refrain Midwest Herald learnt, is “I have not ruled myself in or out of the race”
Hon. Omorogie Ogbeide-Ihama
While Urhoghide was dilly dallying, the member representing Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama threw his hat in the ring. He is considered a new face and strong candidate judging from his impressive showing in his reelection to the National Assembly which was made possible with a large grassroots following and appeals to the youths.
However, some claim his constituency is too restrictive while other argue that his popularity extends behind Oredo as the three major vote contributors – Egor, Ikpoba Okha and Oredo are intrinsically linked. The votes from these local government it can be said gave PDP the senate seat as well as the majority of the votes that propelled Atiku to defeat Buhari in Edo State.
His candidature is a straight battle between the new generation and the old order. So far, his campaign is sluggish. But it is expected to gather momentum in time.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu
Pastor Ize-Iyamu has been a recurring gubernatorial candidate. He got the party ticket in the 2016 general election in Edo State. But many say it was Chief Tony Anenih and Chief Dan Orbih, the late national leader of PDP and Edo State PDP Chairman respectively, that forced him on the party as many have not forgiven or forgotten the role he played that led the party into opposition in 2007.
That not withstanding, he is popular and entrenched. A cross section of PDP leaders and members are of the opinion that he may not contest.
However, like Urhoghide, he has not ruled himself in or out as he it was recently reported to have stated that, he has not told anyone that he won’t run for the coveted seat. Others equally believe that he may be hinging his decision to run on an Atiku presidency.
This uncertainty seems to be alienating him from the race. Many also opined that the fickleness shows his lack of belief in the contest.
In the last few months and even now, politicians in the state are linking him to a return to APC either to run or support his friend and benefactor who is also being rumoured to likely join the race.
Even though Urhoghide has deferred his ambition to pacify him, Ize Iyamu has still not made his interest or lack of it public.
To many of the 18 local government area party executives, Ize-Iyamu means different things to them. His 2020 governorship ticket is a mixed bag to the PDP. Perhaps, a heterogeneous collection of political manual and tools. Time will tell when and where his assortments of experiences will be heading in 2020.
Completing the list of contenders is a political neophyte, Nosa Ebomwonyi – an ex-banker but with sketchy background and political popularity.
Judging from history of PDP, the party will do the needful to nominate a candidate that will be acceptable to majority of party members that will be electable from Edo South.
For now, the choice before the PDP delegates is len and crap. In the PDP league of governorship hopefuls are, Mathew Urhoghide, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Gideon Ikhine, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Ken Imansuagbon and Nosa Ebomwonyi. Understandably, only two are said to be serious and willing contenders so far.