Edo 2016: APC Governorship Aspirants Dare Oshiomole

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Governorship aspirants on the All Progressives Congress, (APC) platform are not backing down for the preferred aspirant of Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Mr Godwin Obaseki. How would matters pan out in the party’s primaries?PATRICK OCHOGA writes

Politics in Edo State is heating up ahead of the governorship election. And if political developments are anything to go by, governorship aspirants under the platform of the All Progressive Congress, (APC) have resolved to confront Governor Adams Oshiomhole, ahead of the 2016 governorship primaries.

The aspirants have shunned the governor’s ban on political activities since the governor made his preferred choice of candidate public, an indication that portend, crisis ahead for the ruling party.

Oshiomhole in a bid to finish well had slammed a ban on any sort of political campaign by aspirants seeking to contest the 2016 governorship, explaining that such would cause distraction for his administration.

The aspirants initially had obeyed the governor’s order however decided to take their destiny in their own hands when Oshiomhole in January 2016 publicly told party leadership why he is backing Mr Godwin Obaseki, the Chairman, Edo state Economic team, a declaration that has continue to heightened political tension in the state.

Aspirants who had craved the governors “anointing” to be the party’s flag-bearers are spoiling for war to ensure that the emergence of the governors preferred choice Obaseki, is stopped.

Besides Obaseki, other aspirants jostling for the APC ticket are Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, Barrister Ken Imansuagbon, Hon Osarodion Ogie, General Charles Airhiavbere, Dr Pius Odubu, Prof. Osariemen Osunbor and Don Pedro Obaseki.

However, perceptibly stronger contenders like is a former minister of works for state Engr. Ogiemwonyi, Dr. Odubu and Barrister Imansuagbon are likely to spring surprises in a free and fair primary.

Ogiemwonyi, is banking on his meritorious and unblemished service in the public sector where he held sway as the Group Executive Director, in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) coupled with his community service in the past decades.

Odubu is said to depend on his grassroot support especially in Edo South, while Imansuagbon who is from Edo Central is likely to benefit of shared votes among other aspirants from Edo south. More so, his philanthropic gestures over the years could play to his advantage.

Beyond, political permutation and calculations, the serious contenders have gone ahead to secure imposing campaign offices with colourful banners on the buildings while their stickers fight for space on most commercial and private vehicles in the City centre.

Edo state deputy governor, one of the strong contenders in the race recently took an inspection tour of his multi-million naira beautiful campaign office tucked in the highbrow area of government reservation area. The eye popping campaign office can be said to be one of the

best among others is fitted with modern office facilities, an indication that the politician is putting everything at his disposal into the battle.

LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that despite the governor’s attempt to persuade party leaders and delegates to work for his preferred candidate, governorship aspirants in the APC are traversing the nook and crannies of the state to seek support of delegates ahead of the

governorship primaries.

The governor’s critics are of the view that the embargo on political activities was a ploy to perfect his plans to impose his new political godson as the party’s candidate in the 2016 governorship election in the state. An allegation the governor had repeatedly refuted.

However, those opposed to Obaseki are of the view that the investment/consultant’s expert may face an uphill task at the primary because of the in-fighting in the party over his endorsement.

It was learnt that some of the governor’s die-hard loyalists who are not on the same page with the governor on the Obaseki’s project may at the last minute go the other way.

Though they are not bold enough yet to speak about their choice because of fear of victimization, they are however waiting patiently for the forthcoming primaries to take their own pound of flesh.

With Obaseki relatively new in political circle of the state, members of his camp argue that his ability to create wealth and turn the state economy around for the better is a strong factor the governor is capitalizing on to sell his candidacy.

According to source within his camp, there are strong indications that a major oil magnate and industrialists might support his campaign. It was also gathered that moves are being made to woo a very influential leader in the APC and former governor to support Obaseki’s emergence, in order to ensure the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not take the state.

It is gathered that this concern stems dog the outcome of recent electoral victories recorded by the PDP, which seems to be reviving the confidence of the former ruling party going into elections.

More so, the need to get as much stakeholders involved is informed by the dissenting voices within the Edo State APC ahead of the primaries. They fear a repeat of the Bayelsa rancorous primaries which caused a huge setback for the party going into that governorship election.

However, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which had suffered political setback is working hard to ensure a rancour free primary. The party is hopeful of making an in-road in the forthcoming governorship election.

Among contenders for the PDP tickets are Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Dr Solomon Edebiri, Hon Mathew Iduoriyekemwen and Mr Osaro Onaiwu.

Of the four PDP aspirants Osagie Ize-Iyamu is said to be favored by the leadership of the party to fly the party’s flag owing to the mass

support he enjoys even from some APC members across the three senatorial districts. A tactical politician, he is one of the politicians to watch in the forthcoming governorship election.

Meanwhile, as political tension ahead of the primaries mounts, the Edo State chapter of the APC, has harped on the need for all stakeholders to avoid hostility in what the party described as an in-house contest.

The state publicity secretary of the party, Comrade Godwin Erhahon, in a statement said all genuine and committed party members must conduct themselves in such a manner that would make reconciliation after the primaries easier.

According to Erhahon “Genuine Party Leaders must conduct themselves in a manner that will not make reconciliation of internal rival groups after the primaries to become more difficult than facing opponents at the main election.

“Let us not give room for most of the formidable aspirants to refuse the outcome of the primaries and gang up against the emerging candidate simply because we dem onstrated our preference for one as a declaration of war against others. Let us also resist the temptation to destabilize the party structures ahead of the primaries simply because a few officials are not supporting our preference now.

“It is certain even to our opponent that APC cannot be defeated in the 2016 governorship election due to the achievement of APC-led Governor Oshiomhole administration so far. But it is possible for a wining APC to push victory to its unpopular opponent”

Continuing he added “After all, those who may be able to help an aspirant to win party primaries will surely not be enough to help him win the main election. Beside, any aspirant who concluded as early as in January that it is impossible for him to win over party leaders who are working for another aspirant before the primaries that is coming up late April, is not to be hoped on.

“Those who wish Edo State well should pray God to guide and protect Comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole during this terminal season against the scheming and antics of morally bankrupt politicians who drummed the first Edo PDP Governor to doom only to deny and deride him in his doom.

“As a governor who has excelled in governances, development and progressive mass mobilization, the Comrade Governor deserves patriotic, not pecuniary, loyalty. Let us also ensure that any aspirant who thrives in mediocrity and occultism does not, by our own fault, succeed a free-minded Governor Oshiomhole.

A political commentator in the state, Comrade Solomon Ifada while speaking on the tension created in the ruling APC urged members of the party to tow the path of peace rather than threatening to tear the party apart over who succeeds Oshiomhole.

“For the governor to end well, I think he deserve the cooperation of all loyal party faithfuls in the state. If we are talking about loyalty, it is hundred percent and not half measure. So, for those who are of the view that some persons have been loyal to the governor and therefore be given the ticket on a platter of gold are self-seeking. I personally think the governor means well for the state and any loyal party man should support him on this project.”

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