After a rigorous screening exercise that lasted almost the whole of Tuesday, and a tension-soaked wait for the outcome, Tell authoritatively learnt that Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2016 governorship election in Edo State, has emerged the consensus aspirant of the Adams Oshiomhole-led faction of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC. No fewer than five aspirants were said to have been screened and drilled by a committee headed by Francis Alimikhena, the senator representing Edo North senatorial district in the National Assembly. The committee comprised Lucky Imasuen, former deputy governor in the state in whose private residence the botched mock primary election was held a few weeks ago, Cecil Esekhaigbe, a retired army General, Thomas Okosun, former speaker of the state House of Assembly, and Samson Osagie, former minority whip in the House of Representatives. Also in the committee was Patrick Obahiagbon, former member of the House of Representatives and Peter Akpatason, current deputy leader of the House of Representatives.
For the other three front runners, namely Pius Odubu, former deputy governor, Chris Ogiemwonyi, former minister of state for works, and Charles Airhiavbere, retired army General, this appears to be the end of the road for their governorship aspirations in the present political dispensation, unless of course they decide to join another party. One of the aspirants, Solomon Edebiri had withdrawn from the race Tuesday morning. When all the aspirants formed a coalition against the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki November last year, they had agreed to work with whoever emerged as the consensus aspirant in order to stop the second term bid of the incumbent.
An inside source told the magazine that Ize-Iyamu, pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and former secretary to the state government, may have carried the day because of his acknowledged large following with massive support and acceptability cutting across the state. Leadership of the party was also said to have favoured him because of the tough fight he put up during the 2016 governorship election which had to be tactically postponed when security report favoured his victory. A chieftain of the party, Tony Kabaka Adun had only recently confessed that he actually won the election if not for the “abracadabra” that took place then.
Political observers believe that this was the reason Obaseki was panicky when Ize-Iyamu decided to return to the party and therefore did everything to frustrate the grand reception organized to receive him. He suspected that Oshiomhole decided to woo him back to the party because he felt he was the only formidable candidate that could challenge him. Political watchers had also seen the waiver granted Ize-Iyamu about a week ago clearing the way for him to take part in the party’s primary election as a pointer that he was being tipped as the consensus aspirant.
The magazine gathered that the screening committee had met all the aspirants individually early Tuesday morning. Its mandate, it was learnt, was to recommend two aspirants out of which one would eventually emerge. The committee was said to have concluded sitting some minutes before 4 pm and the aspirants were told that they would be seen together later in the night where they would be informed of their fate. Oshiomhole whom the magazine learnt was at his Iyamho country home early in the day to celebrate the Eid-el Fitr with his mother and kinsmen, later returned to Abuja in the evening after which he addressed the aspirants.
A source close to the meeting hinted that the aspirants left the meeting venue shortly before 9 pm after Ize-Iyamu was formally announced as the anointed aspirant.