Three months from now, various political parties in Edo State will hold congresses to pick their flag bearers for the 2020 governorship election in the state. Though electioneering campaign has not started in the state, members of political parties have shown interest in becoming flag bearers of their respective parties for the election.
Among the political parties in the state, only members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have for now publicly indicated interest to vie for tickets.
Those who have indicated interest on the platform of the APC are the incumbent governor of the state – Godwin Obaseki, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Charles Airhiavbere, Pius Odubu, and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, while Omoregie Ogbiede-Ihama, Gideon Ikhine, Ifaluyi Isibor and Ken Imasuagbon have indicated interest on the platform of the PDP.
Obaseki has indicated interest for a second term in office and this desire has pitched him against party leaders and the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, who felt betrayed by Obaseki whom he defied all odds to make governor.
Obaseki’s quest for re-election has factionalised the party with one group – Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) loyal to Oshiomhole and Obaseki/Shaibu Movement (OSM) loyal to Obaseki.
Gov Obaseki said people are fighting him because he refused to share the state’s money to party chieftains and leaders, as well as not listening to godfathers. While those opposing the governor’s second term are of the view that he has deviated from the main governance thrust of the party, Obaseki’s supporters believe he has performed creditably well, as is evident in institutional reforms, education, health, human capital development through Edojobs and EdoBest initiatives, among others.
However, the greatest obstacle to Obaseki’s reelection bid is the supremacy battle between him and the national chairman of his party, Adams Oshiomhole.
Chris Osa Ogiemwonyi is a former Minister of State for Works. He retired as Group Executive Director at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Ogienwonyi joined the Peoples Democratic Party after his retirement, but later defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in November 28, 2014. He contested the APC primary for the 2016 governorship election and came a distant fourth position with 137 votes. His main challenge is that he is not considered a grassroots politician.
Airhiavbere is a retired Major General in the Nigerian Army. In 2012, he emerged the governorship candidate of the PDP with 403 votes to challenge the then governor of the state Adams Oshiomhole of the then Action Congress of Nigeria.
Airhiavbere, in April 2015, dumped the PDP for APC and participated in the 2016 governorship primary election where he scored only 11 votes. Though he has not publicly disclosed his interest to contest the party ticket but he is one of the arrowheads of EPM group fighting against Governor Obaseki’s second term.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu was appointed Chief of Staff to Governor Lucky Igbinedion between 1999 and 2003. He was later elevated to the position of Secretary to the State Government (SSG). He however dumped the PDP in 2007 for Action Congress of Nigeria and worked for the election of Governor Adams Oshiomhole. He dumped the APC to join PDP in 2014 and emerged the party’s gubernatorial flag bearer in 2016 but lost to Governor Godwin Obaseki.
In 2019, Ize-Iyamu resigned from the PDP and joined the APC. He is believed to have been brought into the APC by the national chairman Adams Oshiomhole to contest the governorship election against Obaseki. Ize-Iyamu is a grassroots politician who has supporters across the state.
His main challenge now according to pundits is how to re-launch his image battered by Oshiomhole during the 2016 governorship election.
Odubu was deputy governor to Adams Oshiomhole all through his eight years in office but could not succeed his principal. He contested the 2016 primary election in his quest to succeed Oshiomhole who opposed him then; he came second with 471 votes. Pius Odubu is in the camp of Oshiomhole and pundits believe that the current romance between Odubu and Oshiomhole is to pave way for him to contest the primary too.
He was appointed the board chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but was not sworn in by President Muhammad Buhari after being cleared by the Senate. Odubu is a grassroots politician and two time member of the House of Representatives. But his challenge is whether Oshiomhole will give him the needed support he denied him in 2016, after drafting Ize-Iyamu to the APC with alleged promise of governorship ticket.
Hon. Ogbiede Ihama
Ogbiede Ihama is member of the House of Representatives, representing Oredo Federal constituency. Ihama won a second term in 2019 – a feat that has not been achieved by any politician in the constituency. He is a grassroots politician with supporters spread across Edo South Senatorial district. He has declared his intention to contest the governorship election under the PDP and has been making consultations across the state. His major challenge is acceptability across the state, being that he has been operating within the Edo South Senatorial district.
Kenneth Imasuagbon was a member of the PDP before his defection to the APC. He contested the 2016 governorship election and lost to the incumbent Governor Obaseki. In 2018, he decamped to the PDP from the APC and has shown interest in contesting the 2020 governorship primary under the PDP. He is a philanthropist and nicknamed “rice man” for distributing rice every Christmas period. His challenge is that after losing election, he would disappear and come back whenever election is approaching.
Gideon Ikhine is from the Edo Central Senatorial district. Ikhine joined the PDP after his retirement and has remained a member of the PDP. He is a philanthropist whose home is open to all and sundry. Ikhine is a grassroots politician who believes Edo State needs grassroots political leaders with compassionate heart. He has declared his interest to contest the 2020 governorship election. He help the PDP wins two the House of Representatives seat and a Senate in the last two consecutive elections and this earned him the acronym in his district, ‘The Game Changer’. Ikhine’s challenge is that the PDP has zoned the chairmanship slot of the party to his senatorial district.
Isibor is a former House of Representatives member, representing Egor/Ikpoba Okha federal constituency between 2007 and 2011 and a former federal commissioner in the federal character commission between 2014 and 2018.
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