High expectations for 2019 in Edo
Ahead of 2019 general elections in Nigeria, the tempo of who gets what from the National Assembly comprising of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the State House of Assembly has started in Edo State. There would not be governorship election until 2020.
From Edo South, the region with the largest voting population, to Edo North and Edo Central, which has the least, the struggle has started.
The ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), has the strongest opposition from Edo Central Senatorial District, which is predominantly Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) going by the results of elections since 1999.
But for the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, the PDP was poised to take over the state as it won the senatorial seats in Edo South and Central, two of the House of Representatives seats in Edo South and the two in Edo Central but the APC showed its dominance in Edo north where all the seats to the National Assembly was won due to the popularity of the immediate past governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Buhari’s victory changed the tide as the APC went ahead to win 22 of the 24 seats in the State House of Assembly.
There has been a near cult following of former Chairman Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih who defeated his kinsman late Professor Ambrose Alli of the then Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1983 as the sitting governor when he was the state chairman of the then National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the defunct Bendel State.
He also led the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) of the aborted Third Republic to huge successes.
Since 1999, Anenih has decided what happens politically in the zone despite fights by the now ruling APC under Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to whom he later lost control of the state.
The most visible elected politician in Edo Central is Senator Clifford Ordia whose activities both in and out of the chambers seemed to have dwarfed those of the other two members of the House of Representatives, Sergius Oguns representing Esan South East/Esan North East federal constituency and Joe Ediowele representing Igueben/Esan West/Esan Central in the green chambers.
In the PDP, a two-time House of Representatives member and former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Friday Itulah is believed to be warming to contend with Ordia in the PDP.
For the ruling APC, The Guardian gathered that Francis Inegbeneki, Theo Okoh, Patrick Ikhariale among others are already warming up to enter the fray. One of the influential politicians in the Godwin Obaseki administration, is his Special Adviser on Agriculture, Prince Joe Okojie who is believed to be nursing the ambition to go to the Senate.
The APC won the entire five local government areas in the last council election in the state which was boycotted by the PDP. Analysts believe that this could be maximised by the APC to win the zone as the council chairmen could be used to mobilise voters in the area.
But some pundits are fast to point to the fact that some parts of the area have their independent mind of voting and not necessarily following a political leader as a result, they may want to resist if coerced into accepting APC, but APC remain the party to beat in the area
Their seeming abandonment in the tripod of governance in the state made up of the governor, his deputy and speaker of the state house of assembly may also be a factor. The governor is from the South while the deputy governor and Speaker of the House are from Edo north.
In Edo south, which has the largest voting population in the state, incumbent Senator, Matthew Uroghide remains the favourite to clinch the ticket for the PDP.
The Guardian gathered yesterday that the leadership of the party had advised its members to bury their ambition and allow Uroghide for a second term apparently to reduce cost of conducting primaries and save such resources for the main election, which could be herculean.
The sitting member of the House of Representatives, Nosa Ogbeide-Ihama has vowed to break the jinx of a member from Oredo Federal Constituency getting a second term. He is popular among the people of the constituency irrespective of political party divide.
His other two counterparts, Omosede Igbinedion of Ovia Federal Constituency and Patrick Aisoweren of Orhionmwon/Uhunmwonde federal constituencies do not enjoy similar popularity.
The former Chief of Staff to Oshiomhole, Patrick Obahiagbon popularly called Igodomigodo remains a major contender for the Edo South Senatorial District of the APC even though it was gathered that former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie is also interested.
Obahiagbon was recently appointed by Governor Godwin Obaseki as Special Adviser, National Assembly and attached to Oshiomhole who has never hid his interest for him to go back to the National Assembly but this time, the red chamber.
Oshiomhole supported Obahiagbon during the primaries for the 2015 elections but lost to Osagie who eventually lost the main election to Uroghide.
Going by the allegation of sabotage leveled against Osagie during the 2016 governorship election, which he has refuted, Obaseki and Oshiomhole seemed to be treading the same again and if they remain together, then it may remain a dream for Osagie.
He was accused of working against the interest of the party when his preferred candidate, former Deputy Governor, Pius Odubu lost the APC primary election to Obaseki.
Edo south is predominantly APC especially with the withdrawal of support from business mogul, Captain Hosa Okunbor whose deep pocket was substantially responsible for the victory of the PDP in 2015.
Edo North remains the stronghold of Oshiomhole who is now the leader of the caucus of the APC in the state. He has demonstrated his grip since becoming governor in 2008. His party has won most of the elections in the district.
The Guardian gathered that he is backing the incumbent and Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Francis Alimikhena for a second term. Many of the constituents have queried Alimikhena’s competence despite being a principal officer of the senate as a first timer, a privilege his predecessors did not enjoy.
He is seen as somebody who is not so close to the people and having an elitist posture which the constituents doesn’t seem to be comfortable with, yet he seems to be enjoying the support of Oshiomhole who according to insiders, is well disposed to Alimikhen’s second term, a privilege his predecessor, Domingo Obende, did not enjoy, despite his outstanding performances as a first timer.
Save for Dekeri Anamero, popularly called DANCO who seemed to have continued his ambition to snatch the ticket from Alimikhena, the other threats seemed to have fizzled out.
The former Secretary to the State Government and senatorial aspirant in 2015, Professor Julius Ihonvbere it was gathered have settled to go to the House of Representatives to represent Owan Federal Constituency currently occupied by Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Pally Iriase.
It was gathered there is a rotational agreement between the two local governments that make up the constituency; Owan East and Owan West, Iriase is from Owan East while Ihonvbere is from Owan West.
Another flash point area in Edo North is Akoko-Edo where the Speaker, Kabiru Adjoto hails. He is interested in the House of Representatives.
The incumbent representative of the area, Peter Apatasson wants a third term in the House but a section of the constituents are also querying the quality of his representation.
His opponents claimed that one of his campaigns in 2012 against former Majority Leader, Tunde Akogun of the PDP was that third term was like a sign of failure.
But his supporters said he has performed more than all his predecessors and should get another chance.
However, Oladele Bankole-Balogun of the PDP whose supporters insist he won the 2015 election but was robbed by the judiciary is again in the race.
His posters have flooded the social media. Speaking from Abuja, one of his supporters from Abuja told The Guardian on phone that Oladele Bankole-Balogun popularly called Oteniete ran the best campaign for 2015.
“He was everywhere in the local government meeting with the people and leaders directly, he won the election, but was robbed in the court. Now he is back and he is the one with the people, we know the people know what they want especially with the current herdsmen challenges across the country”
Many factors would determine the election of 2019 in Edo state, but voters are the major actors.
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