The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State is hopeful about the prospects of power shift next year. Next year’s governorship poll will be very critical. The opposition party is trying to put its house in order. Edo PDP is making efforts to go into the election as a united family.
However, certain party leaders are flexing muscles on who controls the party ahead of the congresses and primary. The move by some leaders and governorship aspirants to make the present State Executive Committee, led by Chief Dan Orbih to step aside is generating ripples.
But, Orbih may survive the threat as his tenure has been clarified to end in March next year. Orbih has been the PDP chairman since 2009 after the death of Chief Samson Ekhabafe. He completed the tenure of Chief Ekhabafe in 2011 and was re-elected in 2011. The party returned him unopposed at another Congress in 2016.
In July, some PDP Stakeholders, led by Mrs. Igbinoba Madonna, urged the national leadership to conduct a fresh Congress to elect officers that will pilot the party into the election in 2020. Igbinoba stated that it would be counter-productive to the party’s desire to win the election if the Congress is delayed till March 2020.
According Mrs Igbinoba, “If the state congress is conducted in March or April 2020, it would certainly keep the party in perpetual opposition.
“There will not be sufficient room and time to heal whatever grievances that may arise from the Congress, let alone that which may arise from the governorship primaries.
“We have stayed too long in opposition party in Edo. If the congress is not conducted in time, we will have a difficult task of winning the 2020 election.”
Igbinoba and others rooting for a fresh congress are believed to be sponsored by some governorship aspirants who know that winning the party primary would be difficult for them under Orbih.
Besides the party congresses, the Edo PDP is also faced with zoning Orbih hails from Edo North Senatorial District and it is expected that the governorship candidate will come from either Edo Central or Edo South. Some aspirants have been lobbying the party to zone the Chairmanship to Edo Central while the governorship candidate is either zoned to Edo South or Edo North.
It was gathered that governorship aspirants from Edo Central kicked against the proposed zoning as it would affect their chances of getting the party’s nomination.
To forestall crisis in the PDP, a former Governor Lucky Igbinedion convened a stakeholders meeting last Sunday at his Bénin City residence to discuss zoning and party congress.
The meeting was attended by top PDP leaders like Chief Raymond Dokpesi, former Deputy Governor Mike Ogiadomhe, PDP members in the National Assembly, Kenneth Imasuangbon, Gideon Ikhine, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Senator Odion Ugbesia amongst others.
Igbinedion said it was to foster unity and make the party discuss in a family way and discussed the party’s roadmap to 2020.
Senator Victor Oyofo, who briefed reporters after the meeting, said the meeting defined the future of the party in Edo State to recapture the governorship position.
His words: “We have had the PDP meeting for Edo state which is to define the future of the party in the state and to set up ourselves to recapture the governorship position in Edo state come 2020. The meeting was very warm, it was a big family meeting.
“That is what will make the defeat of the APC very interesting because we are going to defeat them both at the state and federal level come 2020. We will win in Edo because the people have seen what APC represents and if you want to travel between here my home at Auchi, you will have to spend more hours than you can imagine. There is the security situation like kidnapping that even farmers can no longer go to farm so people are tired of APC, we are only going to take up responsibility of relieving them of duties they couldn’t perform.”
On the zoning of party positions, Senator Oyofo said: “There are issues and there must be issues, but I can assure that we are resolving them in an amicable way that will further the interest of PDP in Edo state.”
Oladele Bankole-Balogun said the meeting has repositioned the PDP to take Edo to the path of progress. He hailed the non-zoning of party positions, saying it would enable the best candidate, the best person to run the affairs of the state and the party would be chosen by the majority of people in the party.
He stressed: “Edo State is in a very precarious state infact it is being ungovernable right now because of some of the machinations of those people who think that they are bigger than the people of Edo State. So, the suffering is a bit too much and now is the time for the PDP to put its case forward to the people of Edo state and take over this government and begin to give purposeful governance and leadership that will benefit a higher percenatage of people in Edo state and not just a few people who are saying that they have inalienable right to govern and mis-govern the fortunes of this state.”
A PDP governorship aspirant, Gideon Ikhine, said PDP leaders had taken up the challenge to ensure that in 2020, the PDP would be in Osadebey House.
He said: “Edo State has become a landlocked state, no roads, nothing. We gathered to think of the affairs of the people of Edo State and it is very pathetic, especially when you look at the state. Nobody has the right anymore. So, we are coming back to give life to the average Edo man and this suffering people are going through, we will ensure that it is stopped.
Paschal Ugbome said: “The meeting to reassess ourselves, reassess strategies and build a collective towards the realisation of our desire to take PDP back to OSadebye house. It was a very successful meeting, we spoke frankly to ourselves and at the end of the day, we are all fired up and recalibrated to do all that is necessary to ensure that PDP is returned back to winning ways.
“The whole essence is 2020, we are preparing for 2020 and I can assure you that we already there. At the moment I think we have about Imansuagbon said PDP remained the strongest party in the state, adding: “We are here to strengthen our ties, to unify the party. I can tell you that the state of our party is strong, we are stronger than ever.
“Make no mistake about 2020. PDP is coming, Imansuagbon is coming. This meeting is bout the poverty in Edo state, the roads that are bad, the jobs that our children don’t have, the floods that have taken homes away. I can tell you that APC is gone and gone forever in this state
“Orbih has done very well. Orbih is one of the finest we have gotten in this country.“
Orbih, who responded to the plot against him, said in a democracy people are allowed to murmur and talk.
He said, “It is a family meeting of PDP leaders in Edo state. We are here to discuss the way forward. No doubt the leaders of PDP and the leaders of Edo state are watching the events in the state.
“We decided to put our heads together so that we do everything right to ensure that come next year, we will have a PDP government in Edo State.”
Analysts have said the non-zoning of party positions and governorship seat may further reduce the PDP chances at the polls. This is because the vacuum created by the demise of Chief Tony Anenih has not been filled because no present PDP leader can give a general directive to be followed by the vast majority of party members.
The aspirants for party chairman or governor are also not backing out or stepping down, which would make the battle ahead tough for the party.