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Edo 2016: The Battle For Governorship Intensifies

Paul Yovo, looks into the chances of the aspirants jostling to replace Governor Adams Oshiomhole whose tenure ends in 2016

Better late than never appears to be the mindset of those aspiring to succeed Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State following the big names that have indicated their interest for the governorship election in 2016, few weeks after the conclusion of the recent general polls. So far six of them have enter the race on the platform of the two major parties the ruling APC and opposition PDP, basking on their show of strength in the National and State Assembly elections held on March 28 and April 11.

With barely a year to the governorship election in Edo State, the fierce battle for the Edo state seat of power has already polarized the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, along interest groups. The party was able to win majority of the state House of Assembly seats in the just concluded general elections, with 21 members to three for the PDP. But in the National Assembly, the PDP had bounced into reckoning, getting two out of the three Senate seats, and 2 out of the five Representatives seats. This outcome has made more than rekindled hope for the PDP which went into grave decline after the unsatisfactory legacy left by its former governors in office, namely Lucky Igbinedion, who ruled for two terms and his successor, Professor Osunbor whose six months rule was terminated by the tribunal to make way fro the current governor, Oshiomhole, whose rein would end next June.

Those who want Adams Oshiomhole’s job

Dr Pius Odubu: is a lawyer and the current deputy governor of the state. He hails from Edo South, specifically from Orhionmwon Local Governrnent Area, the place of Pastor Ize Iyamu, former APC Chieftain and Secretary to government who left the party in a hoof following the bad blood that the party’s last year primaries generated. A lawyer and political scientist, Odubu left a robust law career in 1999 and ran for and won the House of Representatives seat on the platform of the PDP, to represent Orhionmwon/Uhumwode Federal Constituency. He won again in 2003. His CV includes Deputy Chairman of the Commerce Committee, where he was the only member of the National Assembly from Edo State who was a member of the Appropriation Committee, between 1999 and 2003, and contributed immensely in the provision of funds for the expeditious execution of the Benin Bye Pass, Benin Onitsha Road dualisation and Benin-Warri Road, dualisation projects. Other areas include attracting projects to his federal constituency- Abudu Erosion Control Project, Urhonigbe Erosion Control Project, Federal Comprehensive Health Care Centre at Urhomehe, Construction of Primary School Building at Urhomehe Federal borehole, and rehabilitation of Benin –Abraka Road, Agbor- Sokponba – Ugharefe Road. Though he is not known to have any differences with his boss, the governor, many are not too sure Oshiomhole would want to support his emergence, not from competence of loyalty, but from the perspective of what sources say is the desire of the governor to break from the past and give a fresher hand the chance to continue and sustain the government’s people oriented policies. Moreover, he was unable to deliver the Senatorial and House of Representatives Seats for the party, something sources say did not go down well with Oshiomhole. In fact it was because of this poor outing that made the PDP win more votes than the APC in the March presidential and National Assembly results. Oshiomhole had to personally drive efforts to ensure the result did not repeat itself during the House of Assembly elections, which would have spell doom for the party in the state

Chris Ogiemwonyi: He is expected to launch what he calls the ‘Call to Service’ campaign, a move stakeholders have argued is designed to announce his intentions to become the next governor of Edo State. This former Minister of State for Works retired Group Executive Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), after putting in over 30 years in the oil and gas industry has a good handle of the oil and gas industry where as Managing Director, National Gas Company, his major assignment was to increase gas supply to multinational companies and also take charge of West Africa Gas Supply Project and the Trans Sahara Gas Project. Ogiemwonyi, a Bini, and has served in his local community, providing jobs to thousands through plantations established, skills acquisition centres, and provision of basic amenities. The former PDP chieftain who defected to the APC in November last year was very vocal in the last minute campaign in the state to reverse the National Assembly and presidential results before the House of Assembly polls “What Edo people want is development; more modern schools, increased economic stability for job creation in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

“We must reject the toga of opposition and reject the persuasion of those who seek to use an expected numerical edge in the state House of Assembly to instigate instability and chaos in Edo.

“The argument that an opposition-controlled legislature acts as checks on the excesses of the executive is tenable only in a healthy political development,’ He had said. Sources say this last minute apostle of ‘CHANGE’ is being opportunistic because of the coming vacancy in government House, a change that may pitch him against those who consider themselves owners of the party.

Osarodion Ogie, a former Chief of Staff to Governor Adams Oshiomhole and Chairman, Edo in Safe Hands, Ogie was the Secretary to the Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation, which ran a successful campaign to enthrone the current governor. A solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1986, Ogie was a Principal Partner in the law firm of Osarodion Ogie & Co and the Coordinator of Oshiomhole’s successful legal team at the tribunal. He is the current Commissioner for Works. There are strong indications that Ogie is one of those pencilled down to become the next governor of the state. All three candidates however may have to contend with the zoning formula in the state, which has been observed by all the parties and has been responsible for the emergence of each governor since the fourth Republic in 1999. In that light, Edo South had had their two terms with Igbinedion, North with Oshiomhole’s two terms and the Central with Osunbor’s one uncompleted term, terminated by the tribunal in favour of Oshiomhole. Whether the parties would respect this workable arrangement still remains to be seen, even though the APC has reportedly zoned the governorship to the Edo south.

Professor Oserheimen Osunbor: Since the tribunal in favour of Oshiomhole terminated his administration, Osunbor has been habouring the intention to return to government House, to complete his tenure and that of his Edo Central zonal slot. But he appears to have burnt his bridges with his recent defection to the APC shortly after the party won the presidential race: He was said to have been acting the script of his in-law by association, former President Obasanjo who is husband to late Stella a native of the same Iruekpen town in Esanland, with Osunbor. The script was for

Osunbor to defect APC so Obasanjo could influence Buhari to appoint him Attorney General of the Federation. But the move backfired and further tainted the man as a weakling; a perception that followed him after the tribunal sent him packing from Government House in 2008. He was elected Senator for the Edo Central constituency of Edo State, running on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform. Served on the Committees on Rules & Procedures, Ethics, Judiciary, Water Resources and Government Affairs (Chairman). Osunbor was reelected to his senate seat in April 2003. Osunbor was elected Governor of Edo State. In April 2007, he was elected governor on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform. On 20 March 2008, the Edo State Governorship Election Tribunal declared that Osunbor’s election was invalid, and asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw his certificate and declare Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole of the Action Congress (AC) party the winner. On November 11, 2008, a federal Appeal Court sitting in Benin City upheld the ruling of the state’s elections petitions tribunal, declaring Oshiomole to be the Governor of Edo State. The decision was based on several voting irregularities. His chances? Dicey. He is a new comer to the APC with obvious baggage that the party finds revolting and may quietly set him aside so as not to reawaken old wounds, as a party chieftain puts it

Kenneth Imansuagbon

At a time, Imansuagbon was a house hold name in Edo politics, notably for his distribution of rice to many homes to further his governorship ambition. But he has a big image problem. This is his inconsistency coupled with the fact that the APC, his new party, has zoned the governorship seat to Edo South. He hails from Edo Central Senatorial District. Besides, Imansuagbon was a founding member of the Action Congress in the state but left for the PDP and thereafter made a U-turn and returned to the APC soon after President Jonathan’s defeat.

After two unsuccessful attempts to contest the governorship ticket on his former party, the PDP, he has indicated interest to consummate his ambition on the paltform of the APC come 2016. His main difficulty now id to create a new image that many would take serious after jumping from one party to the other with the speed of insincerity.

He claimed to have left PDP since December 2014, when he foresaw a national revolution [change] coming and gave the reason why he shunned the President Jonathan campaign rally held at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City as well as worked against the PDP during the governorship/House of Assembly elections by deploying his personal resources to deliver his unit. He never gave the party a chance to win any election in the state until the outcome of the Senate and House of Representatives contest told disloyal party man like him otherwise.

Architect Mike Onolememen

Onolememen is the immediate past Minister for Works and hails from Chief Tony Anehih’s Senatorial District (Edo Central). There are indications that the PDP may settle for him as the governorship flag bearer of the party come 2016, not just for his sterling performance in office but for his wide connections within and without the state who are sympathetic to his cause. Additionally, he is highly favoured by the zoning formula in the state, which give his senatorial district the chance to finish what Osunbor stated but could not complete. The power brokers in the state are sympathetic to the arrangement.

Should he eventually emerge as PDP standard bearer, political watchers say that the party would not only need to search for a popular candidate as running mate from Edo South, which harbours more a big percent of the entire voting population in the state, but would also need to go the extra mile to split the Edo North votes, the zone of the Governor Oshiomhole.

As minister of works, he was instrumental to the reconstruction of the Benin/ Ofosun/Ore dual carriage way and the ongoing reconstruction of the Benin/Okene/ Abuja road dualization and Benin/Asaba reconstruction by the federal government, among other such network of roads nationwide.

Major Gen Charles Arhiabvbere rtd; He was PDP’s governorship candidate in the 2013 election. He lost woefully to the incumbent Governor Oshiomhole. Few hours after his party lost the presidential election in, he defected to the APC, claiming that he has seen the light and the PDP in the state was a huge joke. But many do think that his real interest is to consolidate his ambition since the APC has zoned the governorship to his South constituency. Even so, many APC stalwarts see him along with others who defected as coming to reap where they had not sown. They would not forget in a hurry the campaign of calumny that he launched against the party in the governorship, only for him to turn round when his fortunes had dwindled in his former party. The reasons he gave for defecting is telling: “I would not be one of the political leaders that would move Edo state backwards especially when the APC is now at the federal level. Every well-meaning politician must come to the centre for rapid development. We can only do that if we give political stability to his Excellency the Comrade.

Governor of Edo state. The party at the centre is All Progressives Congress and the party in Edo state is also APC why then should we be in opposition?.”

With the aspirants getting set to hit the turf, the political landscape of the state is set for frenzied political activities, with the APC and the PDP heading for the final showdown after their recent show of strength in the just concluded general polls.

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