Ahead of the congress of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Edo State, slated for next month, political gladiators are engaging in intense horse-trading and strategizing as they jostle for key political elective positions in preparation for the 2020 governorship election in the state. Rising from a caucus meeting of the zone on Monday at Uromi, leaders of the party resolved that they would settle for nothing but the governorship ticket of the party in the coming primary election. Their demand came barely one week after the Afemai declaration by the Edo North senatorial district of the party asking for the post of deputy governor and state secretary of the party.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, the PDP chieftains including John Yakubu, Broderick Itua, Gideon Ikhine and Julie Okosun among others, said the agenda of the Esan people in Edo State was to become the next PDP governor of the state because the post had eluded them for the past 22 years. “What we have resolved in that meeting is that Esan must produce the next governor of this state. That is our consensus decision; that is the position of Esan. We are not going for any other position. What we are asking now is that other senatorial districts should join us in our demand because Esan is the home of PDP in Edo state. We may not arrive there easily but we are going to continue to discuss with people in Edo North and Edo South to give us this opportunity because this is what we want. Yes, there may be few people who may not agree with us because of their selfish ambition but that is our general agreement,” said Ekhoye. The position of the chieftains is however at variance with the ambition of the caucus leader, Senator Odion Ugbesia, who is being propped up as the state chairman of the party by the outgoing chairman, Dan Osi Orbih. The resolution was therefore a clear message to him that he is on his own.
A governorship aspirant of the party Gideon Ikhine who noted that Edo state is made up of three senatorial districts – North, South and Central, said if you look at the PDP, Edo Central has always won elections for the party. “We have resolved to discuss and negotiate with the two other senatorial districts that what we want is the governorship slot for the Esan man. You will recall that Chief Lucky Igbinedion was Governor for eight years and the still birth that happened in Osunbor time was zoned to Edo North. After that time, the governorship position was supposed to come to the central but it was again taken to the South. At that point in time, we said no, it was the turn of Edo Central; but as fate had it, Ize Iyamu ran and we lost. Again, before that time, an opportunity was given to Charles Airhiavbere but we also lost. In the past 22 years of the PDP, the Esan man has not been given the chance to aspire to be governor of Edo state,” he said.
Speaking in a similar vein, Broderick Itua said the leaders have reaffirmed the position of the Esan man in the political history of Edo state. He said for the past 22 years that the PDP had been in the state, the Esan man had not produced a governor, adding that the Esan man is the core of PDP in Edo state. “Without Esan vote, you can’t get PDP governor in Edo state; so we can’t be relegated. We stand firmly that now we are going for the Governorship position. Nobody can dictate to us because we are the ones who determine politics in Edo state,” he said.
Philip Olumese on his part noted that key offices in the state had always been rotated amongst the tripod that makes up Edo State and regretted that “for the past 22 years of the PDP, the Esan man has never become governor so it is our turn now to present an Esan man as a governor and I have no doubt in my mind that we are going to get it. Whosoever is saying anything else is not speaking the mind of the Esan man”. Julie Okosun, Edo Central Woman Leader also insisted that on Esan agenda the leaders stood and the agenda was to produce the governor. “We are not a second fiddle to anybody; this is the origin of PDP in Edo state. They should therefore give us what rightfully belongs to us; it is not negotiable. That is the Esan agenda”.