6 members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State has shown there interest in the governorship ticket of the party.
Before the end of June, the deadline for the submission of the party’s forms, the six aspirants had filled and submitted their nominations and expressions of interest forms, both sold for N22.5 million naira to each aspirant.
This made the total money generated by the ruling party from its sale of form at : N135 million.
The 6 aspirants that went through the party screening process include the incumbent governor of the state,
Godwin Obaseki: former chief of staff and secretary to the Edo government,
Osagie Ize-Iyamu : a former minister for works,
Chris Ogiemwonyi: a former deputy governor,
Pius Odubu: Matthew Iduoriyekemwe and Osaro Obazee.
However, at the end of the screening process chaired by Jonathan Ayuba, a professor, only three aspirants were declared eligible. The other three were disqualified based on ‘anomalies’ observed in their credentials.
The qualified ones are:
Odubu and Obazee.
As enphasized by different analysts, Messrs Obaseki, Ogiemwonyi and Iduoriyekemwe were the 3 aspirants ineligible to partake in the Edo APC direct primary election slated for June 22 to determine the party’s flag bearer in the September 19 governorship election.
They are believed not to enjoy any support from the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who is also a former governor of the state.
Mr Oshimhole is currently on suspension and Mr Obaseki later defected to the opposition PDP.
In this analysis, the reports essentially explores individual aspirants’ political history alongside the party’s internal wrangle and other factors peculiar to them as they contend for the party’s ultimate ticket.
Mr Ize-Iyamu, a former chief of staff and secretary to Edo government, is considered one of the founding fathers of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state, a party that evolved to become the APC.
Mr Ize-Iyamu, from Orhionmwon Local Government Area, was the candidate of the PDP in the 2016 Edo state gubernatorial election, an election he lost to the incumbent governor.
Mr Ize-Iyamu garnered 41.28% (253,173) of the total votes cast against the 52.09% (319,483) the incumbent who contested under the platform of the ruling APC.
He is marked as Mr Oshiomhole’s preferred candidate for the party’s ticket this time.
“We started with the consensus candidate because we believe, with unity, we can remove the current governor, ” Mr Ogiemwonyi, told journalists as he picked up his forms.
Until the disqualification of some of the aspirants, there were speculations that the three candidates action in purchasing the forms was aimed at dividing Mr Ize-Iyamu’s votes in the primary.
This decision, to a great extent, has enhanced the chances of Mr Ize-Iyamu, Mr Oshiomhole’s alleged preferred aspirant.
Arguably the most certified aspirant currently in the race, Mr Odubu served as the deputy governor of Edo State between 2012 and 2016 under the leadership of the former governor, Mr Oshiomhole.
He is a lawyer and a former lawmaker who represented the Uhunmwode/Orhionmwon Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Mr Odubu worked as the Director of Logistics of the Buhari Campaign Council ahead of the 2019 presidential election, a position many believe could muster some support for him in this contest.
Dr Pius Odubu, sitting 2nd from left with ash-coloured fez cap at the declaration.
He was recently confirmed by the Senate as the chairman of the 16-man Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board reconstituted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While serving as the incumbent deputy governor, he contested for the APC governorship ticket in 2016.
He came a distant second with 471 votes as against the 1,618 votes garnered by the Mr Obaseki, who the then governor, now estranged ‘godfather’, Mr Oshiomhole, picked as his preferred candidate.
Some days before the APC declared its sale of form, Mr Odubu alongside six aspirants declared Mr Ize-Iyamu as their consensus candidate, an agreement that crumbled.
The Jonathan Ayuba-led APC screening committee in its observations also noted that Mr Odubu’s credentials had an inconsistency but the “anomaly was cured in the affidavit deposed to by his father and our recommendation is that Pius Odubu is eligible to participate in the election.”
Even though a staunch loyalist of Mr Ize-Iyamu, Mr Obazee is the incumbent governor’s kinsman, as they both hail from Oredo local government.
He is the youngest of all the aspirants as he was born on February 23, 1970.
Mr Obazee, a former chairman of Oredo Local Government Area, had declared his intention to run for the Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, but was compelled by the party’s leadership to step down for the Majority Leader of the House of Assembly, Osaigbovo Iyoha, and instead go for the House of Assembly, instead.
Having joined other six aspirants in endorsing Mr Ize-Iyamu as the faction’s consensus candidate, Mr Obazee breached the agreement when he opted for the form, a decision many believed was taken in due consultation with Mr Ize-Iyamu.
He was the first aspirant to be screened and cleared by the APC panel. There is a speculation that Mr Obazee would likely opt-out of the primary in favour of Mr Ize-Iyamu.
Just as the battle between Messrs Oshiomhole and Obaseki led factions in Edo continues to get messier, so is the party’s chance at winning the September 19 governorship elections.
As it stands, the three aspirants cleared to contest for the APC’s governorship ticket are arguably from the Oshiomhole-led faction while the Anselm Ojezua-led faction in the state has enjoined the embattled governor to join another party and contest which he has since done.
Governors from the main opposition party, PDP, have already granted Mr Obaseki a waiver to contest for the party’s ticket.
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