Edo 2024: Post Primaries Appraisal

Senator Monday Okpebholo

Edo 2024: Post Primaries Appraisal

By Elempe Dele, Edo.

We must remain cognizant of our political experiences if we are to effectively chart a roadmap for our collective future. As a consequence, therefore, if there is an intervention one believes, hasn’t read concerning the just concluded Edo State gubernatorial primaries, this is it.

I have always been fascinated in my op-eds about the connection between the concept of rhizomatic thinking, pluralism and perspectivism championed by philosophers like Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche. These scholars embraced multiplicity of perspectives by rejecting rigid, linear and binary structures. Applying this perspective in journalism simply means there are countless ways of seeing and understanding issues, each offering valuable insights.

Through this, we can cultivate richer and more inclusive understanding of themes around us. This ultimately allows us to nourish our curiosity, creativity, interrogation and understanding of the complexities of issues. It is on this basis that I choose to appraise the gubernatorial primaries through my peculiar lenses.

Last week, the All Progressive Congress, APC, conducted their primary (direct) under the chairmanship of Governor Hope Uzodinma, which produced Hon. Dennis Idahosa. Most of the aspirants protested against the result and the reverberations of their protestations, some taken too far, reached Mr. President.

The Commander-in-Chief was discomforted by the shabbily conducted primaries and ordered for a new one using the National Working Committee, replacing Governor Hope with Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River State.

Senator Monday Okpebholo emerged as the winner garnering 12,433 votes.

Meanwhile, on the 22nd, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, smoothly held its primary (indirect) in Benin City where Asue Ighodalo Esq emerged as the winner of the contest after some aspirants withdrew from the contest voluntarily.

Just yesterday, 23rd or February, the Labour Party, LP, held its primary (indirect) and Olumide Osiagbovo Akpata Esq, the erstwhile Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, chairman, emerged as the winner of the contest with 316 votes as against others with single digits votes in what was known before hand to be a one-way traffic nomination.

With these nominations, the equilibrium and initial political calculations have been altered. We must, thus, remain conscious of our political experiences as I mentioned in the opening parts of this piece. Indeed, when you step into the realm of politics, that which cannot be silenced must be said.

Not surprisingly, conversations along tribal voting lines have been rife with the emergence of these major candidates. In past 24 hours, there have been alignments and realignments.

First, the emergence of Senator Okpebholo from Edo Central Senatorial District has altered the political calculation for Asue Ighodalo in the district, which has about 16% voting strength of the entire state. No doubt, the sitting senator will divide the votes there as the electorates I have spoken with are divided between both candidates.

Although Edo North, with a voting strength of about 30%, is a known stronghold of APC, it might not necessarily be so now that Senator Oshiomole has been humiliated having his preferred candidate, Hon. Dennis Idahosa, disconnected from the race.

Most of his supporters are not happy with the recent turn of event, and it will take a high profile reconciliation to make the former governor to work for Senator Okpebholo. The PDP and LP can use this crack to make incursions into the district with high campaign strategies.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, Edo South Senatorial District is the major battleground with 58% voting strength according to the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, during the last voters registration. Here, Olumide Akpata and Asue Ighodalo have the almost the same support base – young, organic, disenchanted, angry and upwardly- mobile voters. One issue that would shape their overall performance would be their choice of running mates, especially Ighodalo.

If Ighodalo – who would be 65 in July – were to opt for a young running mate from Edo South, his chances will be brighter, as opposed to his opting for someone in his age bracket, as this inexorably alienates the bulk of the so-called ‘youth O’clock’ support base. Consequently, Ighodalo’s fate might be determined, for the most part, by his choice of running mate. A key factor in this regards in the necessity of picking a running mate that is not from the Edo establishment/administration, so as to give the public that sense of independence and the needed injection of fresh ideas.

On the same token, Ighodalo must strive to select the said young running mate from the old PDP bloc, not necessarily to break their ranks, but for the joint ticket to reflect all the optics – the ticket will reflect the diverse tendencies within the PDP. This will ultimately provide ample maneuvering space for geniune reconciliation, as the old PDP folks already feel marginalized.

As for Olu Akpata who is from Edo South, his chances are bright as he has the potential to be a disruptor of sorts. He is wealthy corporate attorney and is set to run a massive campaign against the APC and PDP.

Given his national name recognition as a former President of NBA, he is likely to dominate the metropolitan areas of Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba Okha and the urban parts of Ovia North East, Uhunmwonde and Orhionmwon, if he can re-awaken the Obidient Movement that drove the last presidential election in Edo State.

I do not see that magic easily replicated as most voters within the party were disenchanted by the outcome of the presidential election.

Given the foregoing, the PDP will need to do a lot more work if it is serious about preventing Olu Akpata from garnering majority votes in the municipal parts of Edo South.

The PDP would also need to do a lot of work to win majority votes in the 2 Federal Constituencies that are controlled by the APC in Edo South – Ovia and Orhionmwon/Uhunmwonde Federal Constituencies. The party must make deliberate inroad to these two battlegrounds if it must win the election – there is no room for complacency.

In a similar vein, it is important to note that Senator Okpebholo is not a new entrant in Edo politics. He has a lot of local followership through his interactions with Late Chief Tony Anenih, as the late Chief was his mentor before his demise. Also, construction mogul, Rev Matthew Okpebholo, the owner of Ray Royal Engineering Nigeria Limited, a household name in Edo State, is the Senator’s uncle.

There are possibilities of the billionaire raising funds for him for the election. He will also have the backing of those in the corridors of powers at the national level because APC is hell-bent on taking Edo State back.

In terms of the current state of play, during the build up to the primary, Asue Ighodalo, reportedly having a net worth of in excess of $30 million, was the hardest working of all aspirants. He has transversed all the length and breadth of the state, meeting with ordinary people. He was also on live television programs often accentuating issues confidently.

Olumide Akpata, although is not totally a homeboy, his emergence seems to resonates with a large section of the youth and some electorates from Edo South who seem to be unpredictable in their voting pattern.

The September election will, no doubt, be the most interesting in the annals of our history. It will offer a lot of intrigues, there will be power-play, ethnic reliance and dominance, financial inducement and more that have never been seen before in the history of our politics in Edo State. The jury is still out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *