68 governorship aspirants to battle for Obaseki’s seat ahead of party primaries
A staggering 68 aspirants have entered the fray, gearing up to contest for the Edo State governorship seat ahead of the imminent party primary elections.
Punch reports that the contenders are jostling for the tickets of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), and Labour Party (LP).
According to the report, there 11 aspirants in the PDP, 29 in the APC, and 28 in the LP.
The APC’s decision against zoning the ticket to Edo Central has intensified the race, prompting diverse entries, including the unexpected participation of the state APC chairman, Col. David Imuse (retd), serving senators, House of Representatives members, and notable figures like former commissioner, Kassim Afegbua and former APC candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Renowned figures like Kenneth Imasuagbon in Labour Party, contesting for the fifth time under different political banners, advocate for experienced candidates, challenging the rising influence of political newcomers like Olumide Akpata and Dorry Okogie, sparking debates on the essence of political experience versus fresh perspectives.
Notably, the deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, engaged in a power struggle with Governor Godwin Obaseki. He announced his intent, emphasising his 30 years in politics and determination to sustain his boss’s legacy.
An ally of the deputy governor, Immam Babangida, said that Shaibu could pick the PDP ticket if the party provided a level playing ground for all the aspirants.
He said: “I am happy that the governor said that it is the members of the party that will determine Shaibu’s fate. But Governor Obaseki and the PDP must ensure there is a level playing ground for everyone to operate. Shaibu has the pedigree to win the ticket at the primaries.
“He has done well throughout his career and he is the only one who can help the PDP to remain in the saddle in the state. Without him, the PDP cannot win the election.”
On his part, Governor Obaseki threw his support behind Asuen Ighodalo, Chairman of Sterling Bank, signalling a potential shift in the state’s leadership.
Ighodalo’s consultations across senatorial districts precede a formal declaration, portraying a vision for technocratic leadership fostering statewide development.
Among first-time contenders, Dennis Idahosa, lauded for his popularity, vibrancy, and developmental initiatives, stands out as a potential APC flag bearer, having defeated the Igbinedion political dynasty twice.
The women’s representation in the race remains strong, with candidates like Dr Angela Ason-Aburime, Dr Loretta Ogboror-Okor, and Dr Emily Okojie asserting their presence within the LP.
Amidst this crowded field, Dr Tony Aziegbemi, the state PDP Chairman, hails the influx of aspirants as a boon for democracy, underscoring the party’s credibility and readiness to organise credible congresses and primaries.
His words: “I imagine that people are taking that conscious step to be aspirants in a political party. In the PDP, we are excited that we have aspirants with capacity, character and content.
“Right now, we have 11 aspirants, nine from Edo Central, and one each from Edo South and Edo North. There was a Special Edo Central Committee meeting on Sunday with the aspirants and out of the nine that have expressed interest in the contest, seven showed up and two sent in apologies. This shows that people want to identify with a successful party.
“The high number is good for democracy, people believe in the system the PDP has put in place; they believe the party will organise a credible congress and primaries and that is why they are showing interest. So we are excited that there are many aspirants. We are not worried that there are so many aspirants as we still expect more people to join the race.
“All the aspirants in PDP have content and are credible. Anyone who emerges as the candidate of the party can win the governorship election.”