Edo 2024: Obaseki Challenges Edo Citizens With Asuen Amid Stumbling Blocks — By Elempe Dele
Now it seems the ambition of Comrade Phillip Shaibu has been laid to rest by the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, the focus is on Asuen Ighodalo, a lawyer and a businessman.
He is the Chairman, Board of Directors, Sterling Bank Plc. No doubt, his profile is rich, he sits on boards of different companies including Okomu Palm Oil Plc.
However, Asuen is not a grassroot politician and the electorate will find it difficult to deal with a ‘stranger’ to them this time, perhaps because Obaseki who was also a stranger has been disassociated from the people.
He is not connecting so the people seem to be averse to another stranger like him. Last week for example, Hon. Charles Idahosa who was an ardent supporter of the governor made a suprising statement in an interview that was not only shocking, but revealed the ‘bedroom talks’ of most citizens.
“And the next governor that will come here will be a homeboy, no importation, not he is very smart and intelligent, not he is a magician in Lagos or has an oil company in Port Harcourt.
“He must be one of us that we all eat together, that knows every mama put corner in this town, we will all be here, we are not importing anybody again, he must be one of us.”
This very targetted statement etched a resonance in the minds of many and the interview was widely shared on all social media platforms specifically because of the homeboy deduction.
So for opinion leaders and core PDP stakeholders, Asuen Ighodalo will be a very hard sell except within the governor’s circle. It is already clear that the government’s left over aides have been peddling the resourcefulness, profile and posters of the governor’s prefered candidate.
Another major problem like a locked trapdoor the governor will be faced with is the Legacy PDP under the undetered watchful eyes of Chief Dan Orbih who recently warned the governor and his deputy for de-marketing PDP in Edo State. He is duty bound to issue that warning as the PDP Vice Chairman, South South.
Chief Dan Orbih’s men are regrouping again, holding strategic meetings in Ogbona and Benin City. The group is not only more accepted in Edo State, they outnumber those with the governor who constitute the few that actually crossed from APC to PDP in 2020, as well as a handful who has been bought over from the Legacy PDP. This group lay claim to be the authentic PDP members in the state having been there for as long as the memory can stretch.
Yet another very huge stumbing block Obaseki will be faced with is how to court those at Wadata House, the national body of the Party. Senator Ayu is gone, the governor’s greatest backer. From the look of things, with the abysmal performance during the presidential election, those at the helms of affairs under the Acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, are not going to play easy balls with Obaseki. They are notmw fully aware he cannof be left alone on his own to help PDP to retain power in the state. It will be difficult for him to force his choice candidate to be endorsed by them. This was obvious in the Local Government Area, LGA, elections. The national did not approve the conduct of the primary election before the party went ahead with it in the state, which contravanes the Party’s constitution. On this basis, some members of the state working committee have instituted a suit challenging the legality of the primaries.
It will therefore be suicidal for the party, as the national body have known and seen, to allow Obaseki handpick his successor without a table-talk and agreements with members of the Legacy PDP under Chief Dan Orbih who is in total control of a huge following. If by any stretch of imagination Asuen scales through with the aid of Obaseki, the Legacy PDP will never work with him to win the election. This fact is without doubt.
Then the two other oppositions in the state: All Progressive Congress, APC, and the Labour Party, LP, will use this fault-line within the ruling party to their own advantage. While the APC is very strong in the North Senatorial District under the leadership of Senator Oshiomole, the LP is strong in the South Senatorial District without a major rallying political leader.
Asuen’s candidacy is with the Sisyphus burden in my own opinion, scaling it will be a herculean task.
Elempe Dele wrote from Abuja