By Titus Akhigbe
Ahead of 2024 governorship election in Edo State, quite a number of aspirants across the three senatorial districts have shown interest in taking over from Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The succession battle began in earnest the moment the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on September 26th, 2023, released its timetable for Edo State Governorship election paving the way for would be aspirants as they intensify consultations ahead of parties primaries slated for February, 2024.
Interestingly, the succession battle for Osadebey Avenue will be between three major political parties in the state. They are the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, and high flying Labour Party, LP.
However, the major hurdle for these political parties is the senatorial district that gets the ticket. The agitations by the people of Edo Central senatorial district that it is their turn to produce Obaseki’s successor are getting stronger by the day since the two other zones have occupied the number one seat in recent times. Even though there is no written agreement or legislation in rotating the governorship position among the three major ethnic groups, the Binis, Esan and Afemai.The growing sentiment among Esan people is the need to end its marginalization and ensure Edo central clinches the top job come 2024.
Notwithstanding the ‘Emilokan’ sentiments being expressed by Esan people that it’s their turn, some analysts and watchers have argued that governorship tickets among political parties should be thrown open to allow competence, capacity, excellence and merit be the determining factors.
The above positions have also been countered by proponents of fairness, equity and justice arguing that the people of Edo Central deserves to produce the next governor because the zone forms a significant part that is made up of what is today referred to as Edo State.
However, aspirants jostling for their parties’tickets cut across the three senatorial districts with the hope that their parties find them capable as flag bearers to wrestle power from the crisis-ridden ruling PDP in the state.
Obviously, from the array of aspirants jostling for Obaseki’s job, erecting billboards here and there,the die is cast.
TITUS AKHIGBE in this write-up examines the chances of major contenders and pretenders who had erected billboards and embarked on campaigns on various social media platforms to market themselves.
All PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC)
Sen.OSERHEIMEN OSUNBOR :
Senator Osunbor is a Professor of law and obviously a frontline aspirant from Edo Central Senatorial District. A school of thought believes his candidacy will give outright victory to APC based on his overwhelming achievements when he governed the state between 2007 and 2008 before he was removed by Appeal Court to pave way for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s government.Osunbor is loved by all because of his academic excellence and uncommon calmness.Recently,when he visited His Royal Majesty, Oba of Benin on his aspiration, he was well received by the palace with prayers and merriment.
Sen.MATTHEW URHOGHIDE :
Senator Urhoghide represented Edo South Senatorial District in 8th and 9th Senate. He was the chairman of a sensitive Senate Committee on Public Account. Recently, he defected to the APC with thousands of supporters and equally eyeing the governorship of the state but with a caveat that he won’t run if the ticket is Zoned to the grossly marginalised Edo Central,while noting that he would run if it’s thrown open. No doubt, Urhoghide is a force because his followership cuts across the three zones based on his spectacular performance in the Senate.
Sen. MONDAY OKPEBHOLO:
Senator Monday Okpebholo ,fondly called ‘Akpakomiza’ shocked bookmakers when he,against all odds won Edo Central Senatorial election for his party,APC in a place considered the stronghold of PDP.If strong feelers from political circles are anything to go by, the battle for the All Progressives Congress, APC governorship ticket appears to be between him and former Governor of Edo State Oserhiemen Osunbor,a more experienced politician .
Pastor OSAGIE IZE-IYAMU :
No doubt, Ize-Iyamu,a top APC Chieftain is a political bulldozer in Edo State but unfortunately, he is from Edo South Senatorial district which is currently occupying the top seat through governor Obaseki,who is in his 2nd term. Ize-Iyamu was the APC flag bearer in 2020 against Governor Obaseki of the PDP. Sources close to the Redeem Christian Church of God senior Pastor said he is awaiting a presidential nod from Aso-Rock villa owing to his close affinity with President Bola Tinubu before making his intention known to the public. His entrances into the race will definitely create an upset.
Hon. DENNIS IDAHOSA :
Hon Idahosa, a member of the Federal House of Representatives, representing Ovia federal constituency in Edo South senatorial district is another APC governorship aspirant who is eyeing Osadebey Avenue. The young lawmaker is quite popular within his senatorial Zone,Edo South but a school of thought believes he doesn’t have the needed experience to govern a highly metropolitan state like Edo.
Prince CLEM AGBA :
Hon Clem Agba, who hails from Edo North, is the immediate past minister of State, Budget and National Planning, is also showing open interest to succeed governor Obaseki. It’s a known fact that he is relying on the backing and influence of Senator Adams Oshiomhole, the state leader to secure the party’s ticket,but political pundits are of the opinion that his Zone,Edo North has had a fair share of the governance of the state based on Oshiomhole’s 8-year rule.Besides,he was greatly embarrassed by the highly respected monarch, Oba of Benin when he visited the Palace for consultation. Agba was told point blank by His Royal Majesty that he didn’t do anything for the Binis (Edo South people) when he was minister.
Maj. Gen(rtd) CHARLES AIHIAVBERE:
Maj.-Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (rtd.), former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), is also interested in vying for the party’s ticket to contest the Edo governorship election next year. His giant billboards dotted Benin and other parts of the state.He is from Edo South,a Zone currently in power.
Barr. KEN IMANSUANGBON
No doubt, the Labour Party in Edo State as it stands today is the beautiful bride in forthcoming governorship election owing to its its performance in the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Barrister Kenneth Imansuangbon,who hails from Edo Central senatorial district is a popular politician, administrator philanthropist and a frontline aspirant for the LP ticket. A school of thought believes that the experienced and vibrant politician with massive followership across the state has all it takes to clinch the party’s ticket effortlessly. Overtime, Imansuangbon has established a very credible relationship with the masses owing to his annual Christmas time rice sharing activities which gave rise to the nickname,’Riceman ‘
A new entrant, and former Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, President, Barrister Olumide Akpata, is from Edo South senatorial district. He was a senior partner and Head of the Corporate and Commercial Practice Group at Templar Law Firm. Recently, he donated a brand new bus to the state chapter of LP and this uncommon generously count in his favour when the chips are down.
Dorry Okojie, a realtor and a business man is one of the early birds in the race for the LP governorship ticket. He is a newcomer in Edo politics. If the number of his political billboards is a yardstick,he may clinch the LP ticket. He is optimistic to get the party’s ticket as one of the contenders to watch out for and he is from Edo Central, a Zone being favoured for governorship come 2024.
Comrade CURTIS EGHOSA UGBO:
Ugbo,a prominent human rights activist and business man is a governorship hopeful from the Lamidi Apapa faction of Labour Party.If Apapa faction is eventually recognised,Ugbo may clinch the ticket effortlessly.
THE PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY( PDP)
ASUEN IGHODALO :
No doubt, the battle – weary governor of Edo State,Godwin Obaseki will face yet another major political battle in producing a successor come 2024. It is a known fact that he had already annoited his age long business associate, Barrister Asuen Ighodalo to succeed him because the governor’s aides are on social media trying to promote him.Ighodalo hails from Ewohimi, Esan East Local Government Area of the state (same community where Imansuangbon hails from) but it won’t be an easy ride because Chief Dan Orbih -led Legacy Group of the crisis-ridden PDP has vowed to stop Obaseki and Ighodalo.
Ighodalo, a lawyer, is the chairman of Sterling Bank Plc and the Executive chairman of Nigerian Breweries Plc. His disadvantage however is that he is not a known .politician.
Comrade PHILIP SHAIBU
Another aspirant seeking the PDP ticket from Edo North is Deputy Governor , Comrade Philip Shaibu. His aspiration had created a wide gulf between him and his principal, governor Godwin Obaseki.Despite the coming together of the duo,the latter has refused to give him any responsibility and even relocated his office from Government House to an Obscure place that is not accessible when it rains.
Not minding the growing animosity between him and his boss, Shaibu is said to be forging ahead with his aspiration and may dump the PDP when the chips are down.
Hon. JOHN YAKUBU:
John Yakubu is another PDP governorship aspirant, a former Esan North East Local Government Council chairman. He was a deputy governorship running mate to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in 2016 on the platform of the PDP. He is banking on his record when he held sway as the council chairman to get the PDP ticket.Yakubu is a grassroots politician with great followership and a prominent figure in the crisis-ridden party.He is banking on a fair and credible primary to determine the party’s candidate.