OJIEVA EHIOSUN writes that the race for the PDP governorship ticket is brewing a crisis that is set to ‘consume’ the party if nothing is hurriedly done to nip the catastrophe in the bud.
The race for the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, has taken a new dimension, with the leadership of the party at crossroads over the choice of its would-be candidate.
This is because, the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, who is expected to automatically clinch the party’s ticket has refused to announce his defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
As such, the contest gathers momentum as more political groups and caucuses are springing up within the umbrella-symbol party, which has led to high-powered politicking, intense lobbying and counter lobbying among the bigwigs.
Interestingly, the PDP is making inroads into key groups at the ward and local government levels, thereby ‘snatching’ some leaders of the local groups, who are being wooed with juicy positions in an eventual takeover of the state.
According to party insiders, the battle for the PDP ticket might not have been this intense, had the main rallying point within the organisation, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu had not left the PDP to join the APC.
A Lagos-based member of Edo PDP (names withheld), who spoke with Saturday Telegraph, after a working visit to Edo last week, said the exit of Ize-Iyamu is what has led to this scramble as the party had earlier concluded on his candidature.
“Everyone running for the top slot is capitalising on the fact that Ize-Iyamu is no longer with us. Now, the race is opened but that would depend on the agreement between our party and the state governor.
“It is now becoming very clear that, towards the election, Obaseki will not remain much longer in the APC, because, the way things are turning out, it is already a lost for him. It is only the PDP that can salvage the situation.
“But we need him to quickly take his decision, though we know that he also has to take his time, because some leaders of the APC are still talking to him. Once he announces his defection to join us, all these rancour will end”, he said.
But as most PDP members in the state continue to ‘mourn’ the exit of their ‘political general’, some leaders of the PDP seem not happy with their outgoing chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, as there are insinuations that the leaders have concluded plans to anoint Honourable Omoregie Ogbeide–Ihama as the man to fly the party’s flag at the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state, as against the chairman’s choice.
Another party source, Austin Evbie, who confirmed that the intrigues have taken a different turn, said happenings during the week indicated that some forces within the party hierarchy are working against the plan of the chairman.
“Orbih is going, there is little he can do. Those aspirants would be denied the opportunity of going to the polls to prove their popularity and acceptability to the people”, he said.
Though there had been denials and counter accusations over the matter, the political atmosphere in Edo State remain charged, as the two major political parties are embroiled with political intrigues.
He opined that the state would continue to witness a free-for-all because of the daily brawls in political circles, coupled with the unending political crisis within the APC and the PDP, which has almost become an incurable disease.
Noting that some of those against Orbih’s moves are aimed towards the acceptance of Obaseki as the PDP flag bearer, Evbie said some pundits could easily perceive the action of the outgoing chairman as a means to get rid of some aspirants from vying for the governorship position, especially those from Edo Central Senatorial District.
He said: “God forbid, if the looming crisis currently knocking the doors of the PDP is allowed to see the light of day, the crisis in APC would be child’s play, compared to the one that will happen in PDP”.
However, feelers from checks by Saturday Telegraph revealed that the PDP hierarchy is sharply divided as some of them believe that it would be a dangerous precedent if ethnically biased tactics are deployed in picking the flag bearer.
While some of the party members are saying that the chairmanship of the party should be zoned to the South and the governorship position zoned to the Central, others are of the view that all the aspirants should be given a level playground.
“Many party loyalists have accused Orbih of favouring a particular aspirant as against the wish of majority, but some of the aspirants have vowed to pull down the PDP umbrella if the party leadership in the state refuses to allow free and fair party primaries and congresses”, he noted.
Some of the aspirants include Ogbeide-Ihama, a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Oredo Federal Constituency in Edo South; Barrister Kenneth Imasuangbon, aka Rice Man, who is from Ewohimi in Esan, South–East of Edo State, a politician known for his simplicity and magnanimity.
Others are Kenneth Imansuangbon, who has contested the governorship position in Edo State four times under different political platform, but today is one of the front liners under the PDP vying for the position of the governor.
Engineer Gideon Ikhine is a Port Harcourt–based businessman, from Ekpoma in Edo Central.