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Obaseki Repents As Edo Campaign Season Kicks Off

By Emmanuel Aziken



Obaseki Oshiomhole Labour

The governorship election campaign season in Edo State formally opened last week with the three major parties unfolding themselves amid confounding political theatrics.

The three major parties in the running for the Dennis Osadebey House are the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Labour Party.

The election season opened with the confusing rapprochement of the outgoing governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki with the penultimate governor of the state, Senator Adams Oshiomhole.

The decision of Governor Obaseki to honour Oshiomhole, his immediate predecessor and estranged political godfather, by naming the newly commissioned Labour House after him in the opinion of some, is a gesture of reconciliation and maybe, repentance. That is after outgoing governor’s past political vocations against the former labour leader.

After Oshiomhole broke bones and destroyed reputations in 2016 to push Obaseki as his successor, the violent dislocation of their once paddy-paddy relationship since 2020 became another reference point of governors turning against their godfathers in Nigeria.

The decision to build a Labour House for whatever purpose apparently to honour Oshiomhole, the political leader of the APC in Edo State has expectedly been seen as a Greek Gift, even by APC officials.

The party was quick to contextualise it as a waste of resources by the Obaseki government that has been conspicuously challenged in terms of delivery of infrastructure.

It, however, underlined the determination of Governor Obaseki to soften the ground ahead of what many expect to be a very difficult election for all.

Besides softening Oshiomhole’s heart, Governor Obaseki’s decision to pick a new deputy governor in the person of the likable Engr Marvellous Omobayo from the Akoko Edo area of the state is particularly sagacious.

Realising that the Etsako bloc that has produced many of the political heavyweights like Oshiomhole, Chief Dan Orbih and Philip Shaibu would be locked out of the reach of the PDP, the governor went to the politically benighted Akoko-Edo area of Edo North to pick his new deputy.

If for anything, the PDP is sure to win some favour from the Akoko-Edo area given the fact that for the first time the area has been given the opportunity to produce a deputy governor.

Given the assertions of the Legacy PDP, that is the original members of the party who welcomed Obaseki into the party in 2020, the PDP is bound to face internal crack the sort it has not faced in a governorship election in the state.

The Legacy PDP led by Chief Dan Orbih, the national vice-chairman, few days ago resolved not to give automatic backing to the party’s candidate, Mr Asue Ighodalo after what they claimed as his imposition by Obaseki.

Hence, the decision of Obaseki to woo the Akoko-Edo section of the state appears a godsend.

However, how that can help the PDP remains to be seen given the heavy negatives that Obaseki will bring to the PDP campaign despite the idealistic and promising aura that is seen around Ighodalo.

Unlike the PDP which is heavily split between the Obaseki tendency and the Legacy PDP chiefs, the APC appears for now to be united.

Oshiomhole, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and many other APC chiefs appear to be united in the emergence of Senator Monday Okpebhelo.

What would have been the point of discord over the choice of a deputy governorship candidate was resolved by the presidency which compelled the candidate to pick Oshiomhole’s man, Rep Dennis Idahosa as running mate.

Before then, Okpebhelo had opted for Engr Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama of the PDP as his running mate. That choice, many believe, would have sufficiently paralysed the PDP as it would have completely drawn the original members of the PDP aligned to Orbih into enthusiastic support of the APC candidate.

That decision would have probably led to Oshiomhole being sidelined. However, despite the decision to drop Ogbeide-Ihama from the APC ticket feelers from Benin are  that the Legacy PDP will still not support Ighodalo.

The Legacy PDP it appears, is ready to sink or swim with APC so long as Obaseki and his man, Ighodalo are put at bay.

The option of Labour in the person of Olumide Akpata remains contentious given the way the party was squeezed out by the PDP and APC during the 2023 General Election.

Despite being about the most popular party among the youths who were fired by the Obidient phenomenon, the party was not able to realise its potentials in 2023 as the PDP and APC squeezed it out of reckoning. Many allege that the PDP and APC used the instruments of power to suppress the votes of Labour.

It is on this account that many supporters of Labour have become lethargic.

In any way, the ethnic dimension is another consideration. The PDP and APC have picked their candidates from Edo Central, the zone with the smallest voting population. They would both crush themselves in Central, while Labour’s Akpata from Edo South, the largest voting bloc, ponders his options in his base.

The campaign is bound to be interesting.

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