The race for who succeeds Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State has begun. In the last few weeks several aspirants have publicly declared their interest in the top seat and have begun consultations ahead of February’s primary.
Expectedly, the battle for Edo number one seat of power is going to be a three-horse race among the major political parties; The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and now the Labour Party (LP).
However, observers say one of the major hurdles political parties must surmount is the senatorial districts where the parties will pick their governorship candidates from especially in the face of agitations by the Edo central senatorial district that it is their turn to produce Obaseki’s successor as the two other zones have occupied the number one seat of power.
But some people have said that competent should determine who rule the state, noting that there is no law that says the governorship position should be rotated among the three major ethnic groups, the Binis, Esan and Afemais, the sentiment among Esan people of Edo Central is very high to produce the next governor.
Meet the leading candidates across the three political parties ahead of next month’s primaries.
He is touted to be the anointed person the Governor wants to succeed him.
However, for many Governor Godwin Obaseki will face yet another major political battle in producing a successor because it may not be easy for him, considering that other gladiators have their candidates and also doing everything possible for his plan not to see the light of the day.
Ighodalo hails from Ewohimi, Esan East local government area of the state (the same community Imansuangbon hails from).
Ighodalo, a lawyer, until recently when he resigned was the chairman of Sterling Bank Plc and the executive chairman of Nigerian Breweries Plc.
Analysts say his disadvantage is that he is not a politician. He will have to rely on Obaseki to campaign just as Oshiomhole did for Obaseki in 2016. Another major hurdle that may work against his emergence is the legacy group of the party led by Dan Orbih, which is loyal to Nyesom Wike, the FCT Minister.
Another aspirant seeking the PDP ticket from Edo North is the deputy governor, Philip Shaibu. His aspiration had created a wide gulf between him and his principal, the Governor, until the rift was settled recently.
Shaibu said that he is the best person to succeed Obaseki after serving as his deputy for eight years. He vowed to forge ahead with his aspiration not minding the opposition from some people. Observe said Shaibu is enjoying support from core-politicians who see him as a team-player and a ‘homeboy.’
The Labour Party in Edo State as it stands today is the beautiful bride in forthcoming governorship election judging from its past performance in the presidential and National Assembly elections in 2023 polls.
Based on that feat, the party has continued to receive some governorship aspirants who had indicated interest to join the 2024 governorship race to wrestle power from the PDP-led administration of Godwin Obaseki.
Barrister Kenneth Imansuangbon, a popular politician, administrator and philanthropist who hails from Edo Central senatorial district, is a frontline aspirant for the LP ticket. Political analysts have argued that his political experience, acceptability, and competence are strong factors that may speak for him if given the party’s ticket.
Overtime, Imansuangbon has established a very credible relationship with the masses owing to his annual Christmas time rice-sharing and other activities which have been going on for over two decades.
Former Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) president, Barrister Olumide Akpata, is from Edo South senatorial district. He was a senior partner and head of the Corporate and Commercial Practice Group at Templar Law Firm. He is a new face in politics and officially joined the LP a few months ago. He formally declared his intention before the state party leadership recently and was well received. There are speculations that he has the backing of Godwin Obaseki in his aspirations.
The battle for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is expected to be keenly contested in February’s primary.
However, observers say that the governorship ticket appears to be between Monday Okpebholo aka ‘Akpakomiza’ and a former governor of Edo State, Oserhiemen Osunbor, a Professor of Law.
Okpebholo, the chairman, Senate Committee on Public Procurement is a grassroots politician and a philanthropist.
He is said to be in the good books of the leadership of the party and a top contender. His financial war-chest and ability to gather supporters irrespective of party affiliations was said to be largely responsible for the first time colourful lawmaker’s victory into the senate, despite the fact that Edo Central is predominantly a PDP controlled zone.
Sen Oserhiemen Osunbor
Osunbor is a notable politician that cannot be easily pushed aside for the APC ticket given his experience.
Ahead of the primary, observers are of the view that the former governor Osunbor’s candidacy may put the party in position to clinch the governorship seat for the APC owing to his previous record; having governed the state between 2007 and November 2008.
However, those against his aspiration are of the younger generation due to his age and are of the view that he should quit the political space. Osunbor is an erudite academic scholar and an experienced politician.
Unfortunately Ize-Iyamu had not succeeded in previous attempts to rule the state.
He is well-known in APC and Edo State politics and hails from Edo South senatorial district.
Ize-Iyamu was the APC flag bearer in 2020 against Governor Obaseki of the PDP.
Ize-Iyamu who is a senior Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, is hoping to get strong support from the President and Aso-Rock villa owing to his close affinity with President Bola Tinubu.
Analysts said his entrance into the race will definitely create an upset.
Dennis Idahosa, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Ovia federal constituency in Edo South senatorial district is another APC governorship aspirant who is eying to occupy Osadebey’s avenue.
The young lawmaker is a household name as far as politics of his senatorial district and Edo State is concerned. He is an aspirant to be on the lookout for.
The immediate past minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Hon Clem Agba who hails from Edo North, is also showing open interest to succeed Governor Obaseki. Impeccable sources have it that he is relying on the backing and influence of Senator Adams Oshiomhole to secure the party’s ticket.
Also, Maj-Gen Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), a former executive director, Finance and Administration, of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), is also interested in vying for the party’s ticket to contest the Edo governorship election next year. His giant billboards dotted Benin and other parts of the state.