By Elempe Dele
” It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are few experiences quite like taking a long road trip and venturing somewhere you’ve never been before like the journey into the future.
It is one of the few forms of travel where it’s all about the journey: the people, the stories, those moments which are hard to describe to anyone. We can only predict what we might be faced with, this we can do without certitude.
The road towards the Edo State 2024 gubernatorial election will not be a smooth ride for any of the three parties; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party (LP).
But for the sake of this article, my effort will be concentrated on the rough thoroughfare of the ruling party in the state; the (PDP).
PDP at the moment in the state is no longer broken into two inreconciliable factions, it is now into smithereens; small pieces.
While the Chief Dan Orbih’s camp is still fairly intact except for members that have gone to seek solace in other parties after the shock at the supreme court, the Governor Obaseki’s camp is getting broken into pieces daily because of the inability of the governor to preserve interpersonal relationship with people, expecially loyalists.
Today, without being glib, he is at war, visibly so, with his Deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu.
Another relationship that is being alleged to be frosty is that with Bar. Osarodion Ogie, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG. And this realtionships might get further broken because of the seperate gubernatorial ambitions of these duo.
I have spoken behind close doors with close allies to Comrade Philip, the truth is the relationship is no longer beyond public handshakes, which is even seldom.
First, Comrade Philip had become conscious of fact that the governor is not going to support his ambition, so also is the SSG that is said to be relying on the Labour Party rather than PDP to try his constitutional luck.
Of recent, Philips questionable romance with Senator Adams Oshiomole and his inability to make even a single councillor or commissioner is an evidence to the fact that all is not well to the once acclaimed loyal deputy and his brutal boss.
From a reliable source, I was told the governor does not see either Philip or Ogie much as his successor.
First, Governor Obaseki’s handlers told me that, in the elections held 2020 and 2023, the results showed that, he has no control in Edo North.
According to them, his outing in 2020 as a sitting deputy governor was not encouraging and the recently held 2023 general elections were not different.
The sources added that, the governor won’t risk supporting someone who do not win elections in his area. And as for Ogie, the source said the governor believes he has no influence beyond Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area.
Secondly, the governor is also aware that his successor cannot come from Edo South Senatorial District.
There will be huge gang up from the North and Cantral against it, if he does so because the general feeling is that it should be zoned to the Central Senatorial District while the South produces a deputy. This is also the situation with picking his successor from the North.
Another foreseable problem PDP will be faced with is which of the faction will likely produce the candidate?
Senator Ayu is no more, so the powers of the governor might have been clipped.
Secondly, the governor does not enjoy a huge following. This was evident in the general election where the outing of the PDP was woeful.
Will he risk another attempt at another election with the same headstrong without settling and negotiation an easy way out with the Dan Orbih’s camp?
If he unilaterally produces a candidate anywhere from the state, he would not get the backing of the Chief Dan Orbih’s camp that are more populous and can easily work with either APC or LP if the need arises. There must be a synergy of sort before the primaries or else everything goes to flames and waste for the governor as seen before.
Let the not so important House of Assembly election decieve the governor, this is an all-important election where all eyes are focused on it.
Again, the PDP candidate, whoever, and wherever he comes from, will face stiff opposition from the APC and LP. It is an established fact that APC holds sway in Edo North while the LP holds sway in Edo South marginally.
No one can tell specifically if federal might will not come to play in this election as pounds of flesh will be taken from all parts of the body of the governor.
It is going to be a first electoral test for Jagaban as president – he will need to win it for his party.
In the South, the Labour Party has been at daggers drawn with the governor who it was alleged used and dumped them, and as well rigged some of their candidates out during the House of Assembly election.
Another factor that will not work for the governor is if he decides, which is unlikely though, to choose his prefered candidate away from the central district.
He has no option than to choose from there and a very sellable candidate for that matter.
Even as at this, the candidate will be faced with stiff opposition at home and away because the governor has hurt too many political feet. His candidate will be seen as his stooge.
The governor is in dire situation as we speak: He needs a successor badly because from sources close to the Tinubu led administration, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, will be very active in Edo State come 2024. The commission will be poised for awe and shock.
Without the cooperation of the next governor, they might not be able to find as much evidence to prosecute Governor Obaseki, something President Tinubu has been said to have vowed to do immediately the governor leaves office.
So a cooperative governor will be needed in this regards that will be able to willingly open files and government transactions to the commission.