Friday, 30 September 2016

Exclusive: Oshiomhole Retires PDP Godfathers In Edo State

The outcome of the Edo State governorship election has exposed the weakness of some bigwigs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hitherto seen as kingmakers, writes...

Yesterday’s victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Edo State governorship election, is likely to mark the retirement of some political godfathers in the “Heartbeat State” by a new power bloc led by the outgoing governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The godfathers, mostly of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and who hitherto called the shots, rating ahead of the poll had presented them as men who could turn the table against the ruling party.

They include former chairman of PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih; business mogul and the Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; his son and former governor, Lucky; former Foreign Affairs minister, Chief Tom Ikimi; former Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen; former Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Mike Oghiadome; media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and Senator Odion Ugbesia.

The party bigwigs had during the campaigns boasted that they will cut Oshiomhole, his anointed successor and APC to size. But in a twist of fate, Oshiomhole, like the Biblical David in the David and Goliath battle, led his party to trounced his PDP rivals for the third time – 2008 (through the court), 2012 and 2016 and thereby confirmed his preelection position that the political godfathers have outlived their relevance in Edo State politics.

Anenih popularly called “Mr. Fix It,” had boasted before the election that the PDP will emerge tops. He not only predicted victory for his party but assured its supporters that PDP candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will have an easy ride because his rival lacks the capacity to be governor. But with the defeat, the former Minister of Works and leader of the PDP in Edo State was forced to swallow his words and justifies appeal on the self-acclaimed godfather ahead of the poll to rather dwell more on national politics and play the role of an elder statesman, than take the captainship band of domestic politics.

In fact, some political analysts had advised him to take a final bow from an indulgence that gave him fame having stepped down as PDP BoT chairman after the 2015 elections but he shunned the counsel, insisting that he still has what it takes to turn the table against Oshiomhole. Another godfather who is likely to join Anenih on the retirement train is the Esama of Benin, Chief Igbinedion, and whose son, Lucky, ruled the state between 1999 and 2007.

Perhaps, the people have not forgotten his son’s dismal performance in the eight years he held sway as governor of Edo State. For Igbinedion junior, the loss is a set back to his bid to re-launch a political career that has been on sabbatical after his ordeal in the hands of the anti-graft agencies upon leaving office as governor in 2007. He had boasted that Oshiomhole’s successor will emerge from his political family. Ize-Iyamu, the PDP candidate is his long term political ally, having served as his personal assistant when he was the chairman of Oredo Local Government Area, Chief of Staff as governor and later Secretary to the State Government (SSG).

Ikimi also joins the train despite his political sagacity. His case is made worse by the fact that he was among those who midwifed the victorious party – APC. He had hoped to lead the party to the 2015 elections as national chairman but the emergence of his kinsman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, at the party’s national put paid to his ambition as well as forced him to quit the party. While the godfathers are grieving their loss, a jubilant Oshiomhole declared that he has demystified them and dismantled their rigging machinery as well.

His words: “Over the last eight years, we have tried to orientate our people not just the voters but politicians that the season of election rigging, where one or two godfathers write the results is over and we were committed to dismantling the rigging machine.

“We have a rerun in 2012 with all the godfathers on one side and new forces of change on my side, I won in all the 18 local government areas. Our people have spoken loud and clear that they believe in democracy, they just don’t want to be beneficiaries, they want to be the drivers of the process. This was showed by the way they conducted themselves on election day.

“It is outstanding and remarkable that tensed as the election was with all the predictions, the APC won 15 out of the 18 local government areas decisively.

Those who were loudest in making noise have been revealed where they stand in relation with Edo people.

"We have humbled Chief Tom Ikimi even in the local government he claimed to have created. We defeated Chief Raymond Dokpesi in his polling unit, his ward and his local government.

In Okada, the political family that has boasted that they will continue to govern this state and even compelled the state to adopt them as the queen of England whose birthday must be celebrated was rejected.

“In Esan land, the senatorial zone of the PDP godfather, we won two out of the five local governments. We gave him a fight that he managed to escape. He used the factor of his age to play on the emotion of the people. It is a victory for the people of the state. Edo people are now proud they can now determine who rules them and no one godfathers can choose a leader for them.”


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