April 14, 2024

Top Contenders for Edo 2024 Governorship Election (I)

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By Raphael Ihonde & Moses Abehe

As the Edo Governorship Election kick-starts in February 2024, with the party primaries, politicians and electorates will look forward to see their preferred aspirants pick the ticket of their parties.

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The 2024 election will hold on September 21, 2024, as a stand-alone election and promises to be a three horse race between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (PC) and Labour Party (LP).

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No fewer than 50 politicians across the three main political parties in Edo State, are seeking tickets to fly their flags. Only a few of them stand a realistic chance of winning the general election, even if they manage to win the primary.

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All eyes are on the main opposition party, the APC which is expected to ride on the unrelenting intra-party crisis that is plaguing the incumbent PDP in the state.

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To use the opportunity, APC must conduct a free, transparent and fair primary. If the outcome is acrimonious, LP may harvest the goodwill of both the PDP and APC.

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On the other hand, the LP may not be able to enjoy any of these advantages, if the story of infighting between leaders of the party is true.

Specifically, two aspirants – Kenneth Imasuagbon and Olumide Akpata, both lawyers are being accused of plaguing the party with “money politics”, a situation some party leaders and members warned is inimical and capable of derailing the party, even as the younger elements, especially the non-partisan members of the ‘Obedient’ movement vows to make LP uncomfortable for aspirants “whose only interest is to buy LP ticket.” Others, especially some ward chairmen and executives are presently negotiating with other parties.

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There are other rooky contestants like Dorry Okojie, who has restricted his campaign so far to ‘X’ and Facebook.

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In the next few weeks, Midwest Herald will present the aspirants according to the result of where they fall in ‘Poll of Polls’, which is an average of three most recent nonpartisan, state-wide surveys of either potential or likely winner of the September 2024 governorship election in Edo State.

The first set of aspirants are presented below in no particular order.

Asue Ighodalo – PDP

The lawyer turned boardroom strategist enters the political race with the hope to ride on the goodwill of his friend, Governor Godwin Obaseki.

Asue Ighodalo is the co-founder of Banwo and Ighodalo, a foremost corporate and commercial law firm in Nigeria. He has degrees in Economics from the University of Ibadan; Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985.

He is renowned for his experience in Corporate and Project Finance, Securities and Capital Markets, Energy and Natural Resources, as well as Mergers and Acquisitions.

Asue’s profile shows that he has garnered extensive boardroom experience and listed his recent position as the Chairman, Board of Directors, Sterling Bank Limited; Nigerian Breweries Plc; Levene Energy Group Limited; Edo State Investment Summit; and DO II Designs Limited and Global Mix Limited.

His resume list him as being on the boards of Mainstreet Technologies Limited – owners of MainOne Cable Limited; Cardinal Stone Partners; Okomu Oil Palm Plc; Christopher Kolade Foundation, including Boff and Co. Insurance Brokers.

With his glowing technical and industry experience, Ighodalo should not be the problem to his quest, but for his suspected sponsor – Mr Godwin Obaseki, incumbent governor of Edo State, who has redefined politics to mean a ‘chaotic everyday brouhaha’.

Having achieved so much in his private business, rising to head Nigeria’s top companies, Ighodalo should be a sought after successor to Obaseki, especially with his role as Chairman of Alaghodaro Ltd in the last seven years.

But his perceived relationship with the present administration that has been in relentless political roller-coaster, is capable of undoing his credentials and chances and that of PDP at the general election.

However, Asue’s handlers will have to work round the clock to thaw the ice on his political path.

His Excellency Comrade Philip Shaibu – PDP

The Deputy Governor of Edo State, His Excellency Comrade Philip Shaibu will officially flag-off his campaign for the September 21, 2024 governorship election on Monday, November 27, 2023.

He is contesting on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate.

Midwest Herald had earlier reported that different groups, including political leaders from Edo North, were urging him to join the contest.

Comrade Shaibu’s campaign is designed around ‘Generation Next Peoples Movement’ theme.

According to his campaign team, Generation Next People’s Movement intends to resonate the ‘No godfatherism’ political mantra which started 2007 in Edo State.

The deputy governor is a former President of National Association Nigerian Students (NANS), former Majority Leader in Edo State House of Assembly and Federal Legislator as Member House of Representatives.

Using his relevant sports skill, Shaibu has succeeded in reviving the sporting fortunes of the state, particularly that of Bendel Insurance Football Club.

He was drafted from the National Assembly in 2016 to pair with Governor Godwin Obaseki as running mate. All eyes will be on the PDP ticket in the primary that has been fixed for February 22, 2023.

Col (Dr.) David Imuse (rtd) – APC

Retired Col Dr David Imuse is probably the dream candidate for APC, judging by his brilliance, energy and understanding of the geography of Edo State and his training as a Medical Doctor.

He has served as Director General to two previous governorship candidates in the state – Solomon Edebiri and Gen Charles Airhiavbere (rtd).

He was the Medical Director at the Military Hospital in Benin City.

But the uncertainty around the puzzle of power shift to Edo Central would likely be a mojor determinant to his choice.

However, if he cliches the ticket of the APC, his victory will be helped by his Cross-Senatorial appeal and the effervescence of his lively Benin wife.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu – APC

POI is an undeniable grassroots politician and tactician.

Calm, cool and calculated strategist. He planted the seeds of political resistance in Edo State through his ‘Grace Group’ Movement in the Pre-2007 General Elections in Edo State.

In 2012, Ize-Iyamu lead the re-election of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the Director General of the campaign.

POI is a veteran politician, having contested twice against Godwin Obaseki in 2016 and 2020. On both instances, he came close to victory.

He is already causing serious political rumblings and readjustments in the political space. He is capable of getting victory for the APC if he wins the primary, but first, POI will have to attend to some perceived liabilities that trailed his previous two outings.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has christened his campaign manifesto – “Simple Agenda.” The document contains details of some intrinsic socio-economic interventions with which he hopes to develop Edo State.

Engr. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama – PDP

Information has it that in 2020, Engr Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama was prevailed on by some PDP leaders to step-down for Governor Godwin Obaseki in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, when the APC disqualified the governor from getting a re-election ticket.

The failure of Obaseki to honour details of the alleged agreement reached in the negotiation, has continued to hurt the PDP in Edo State, till date.

Omoregie has described his journey into politics as a “template in passion to serve people, loyalty, doggedness, and perseverance.”

He started his political journey when in 1999, when he joined the Peoples Democratic Party where he has remained till this day.

In 2015, he was elected as the member representing Oredo Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, after two previous attempts in 2007 and 2011 for the State House of Assembly and the Federal House of Representatives seats respectively. He subsequently served two terms.

Described as one of ‘Nigeria’s new generation of emerging political leaders’ by political watchers, Engr. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama draws strength from the energetic young political class who he has succeeded to redirect their energy over time.

The former federal legislator is a frontline member of the ‘Legacy PDP Coalition” led by Dan Orbih, PDP National Vice Chairman, South-South.

He has the political experience to reengineer the Edo State and put it on part of growth.

Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi -APC

Born on 21 March 1951 in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi attended Western Boys School, Benin City before proceeding to the University of Benin where he earned a degree in Applied Physics.

He has a post-graduate diploma in petroleum engineering from the University of Ibadan. He is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School and member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Ogiemwonyi is an outstanding technocrat that has contributed immensely to nation building, through his public service at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation where he rose to Group Executive Director.

As a member of the All Progressives Congress, he has consistently played pivotal role in the management of the party. The APC and Edo State will benefit from his extensive goodwill if he wins the primary contest.

Prince Clem Agba – APC

According to Prince Clem Agba, his philosophy is anchored on George Bank’s response when he was asked, “What do you live for?” George replied – “For the cause that lacks assistance; for the wrong that needs resistance; for the future in the distance and; for the good that I can do.”

Prince Clem Agba was born on March 28, 1964 to the family of His Royal Highness, Pius Kadiri Ikanade Agba – the Oliola of Uzanu, in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State.

He graduated with a degree in Economics, from Ambrose Alli University, Edo State and went on to earn his industry experience while working with the oil giant – Chevron. He was subsequently drafted into politics when he joined other volunteers in 2006 to work for the emergence of  Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as Governor of Edo State.

Clem was appointed twice as Civil Commissioner in charge of Environment as well as Commissioner for Lands.

His political carrier received a boost from former President Mohammadu Buhari who appointed Prince Agba as Federal Minister for Finance and Budget. He played significant role in the former president’s struggle to find solution to Nigeria’s ailing economy.

Agba’s political strength is his closeness to grassroots, especially in Uzanu, Etsako East Local Government Area, where he has turned to a ‘Mecca’ in  the Savannah.

If his party, the APC jettison zoning and throws the primary contest open, Clem Agba is among possible winners and will b capable of providing leadership to Edo people.

John Yakubu – PDP

John Ehibhationman Yakubu rose to political prominence when her served as Chairman of Esan North East Local Government Council. He won several awards for being able to attract verifiable projects to the local government area.

He was the running mate of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the PDP candidate in the 2016 Governorship Election.

The highly knowledgeable politician studied Accountancy in Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State and Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Benin.

Yakubu became a strong grassroots mobilizer after leading Edo Central Youths as President of Uromi Youth Movement and President of Esan League of Youths.

He prides himself as an apostle of late Chief Tony Anenih who he worked for from the foundation of PDP in 1998, until his demise.

Unlike several Nigerian politicians, John Yakubu has remained a consistent member of PDP. The party won all five local government areas in Edo Central in 2016 when he was the running mate to Pastor Ize-Iyamu. This is an attestation to his grassroots popularity.

Earlier in 2012, Yakubu served as the Director General of Charles Airhiavbere Governorship Campaign Organisation.

The responses received from the polls indicates that John Yakubu is a leading contender for the APC ticket and a capable hand to lead Edo State to greatness.

Senator Monday Okpebholo – APC

Senator Monday Okpebholo goes by the popular name – ‘Akpakomiza’. He hails from Udomi Community in Uwessan-Irrua, Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State.

His parents are late Chief and Mrs. Peter Okpebholo, and Akpakomiza is 53 years old.

Senator Okpebholo rise is a fitting definition of ‘grass to grace’, when his father relocated him to Jos to stay with his elder brother when his only sister suddenly died from complications of waterborne disease from the village stream. He completed his secondary education in Jos.

The unfortunate incident forced him to relocate to Jos, Plateau State where he lived with his elder brother, and eventually completed his secondary school education.

Later in life and as his thorns turned to crown, he fulfilled a vow to God, that, if he blesses him financially, he was going to solve the problem of lack of potable water in his community. Through his effort, the water problem in Uwessan-Irrua was solved.

Senator Okpebholo has a Degree in Business Administration from the University of Abuja and at the moment, pursuing Masters’ Degree in Policy and Leadership Studies in his alma mater, University of Abuja.

On his ability to govern Edo State, the APC governorship hopeful stated that, “my public acknowledgement and recognition of my skillset and competencies by eminent Nigerians from various fields of endeavor, who were friends and associates of late Chief Tony Anenih of blessed memory, endeared me to the late Iyasele of Esanland,” and perhaps, Edo people.

Okpebholo is hoping to rely on his political machine that recently won the senatorial election for him, to once again promote him to be voted as governor of Edo State.

Anselm Ojezua – PDP

Anselm Ojezua, lawyer and politician is the most experienced politician amongst all the aspirants, across the political parties. He joined partisan politics in his twenties and has since remained active.

Ojezua has served in different capacities, including civil commissioner, political party chairman, special adviser and others.

He is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), having decamped from APC along with Governor Obaseki in 2020.

The former APC State Chairman is confident to his victory both at the primary and the general election. “I believe very sincerely that I am the right man for the job at this critical time in the annals of our collective history because of my knowledge and cognate experience in both governance and politics complete with the relevant skills required to get the job done.” Anselm said during his formal declaration of interest.

His hope like other aspirants seeking the ticket of PDP, will hang on the readiness of the party leaders to sheath their sword in the next 60 days.

Olumide Akpata – LP

Olumide Akpata joined the Labour Party (LP) four months ago, exactly on August 1st, 2023 and immediately declared interest to contest for the party’s governorship ticket.

A cross section of politicians are suspecting that the former President of Nigerian Bar Association is as an agent of Governor Obaseki. Akpata’s co-aspirants in LP are unsettled by his monetization and commodification of the processes leading to the party primary.

The ebullient 51 year old lawyer is considered a rooky politician and if he manages to secure his party’s ticket, will be unable to match any of the leading contenders in PDP and APC.

Kenneth Imasuagbon – LP

Kenneth Imasuagbon is a perennial governorship aspirants. He contested first with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in 2007 for the ticket of Alliance for Democracy (AD), but lost in a consensus primary. Since then, he has contested in all primaries held by different political parties in Edo State.

Imasuagbon has crisscrossed from AD, PDP, APC and now LP. This momentous movement has seriously eroded his political goodwill over the years. Analysts believes that his aspiration is capable of imploding the Labour Party if proceedings during the primary go south.

Imasuagbon’s major strength is his war chest which he has always deployed during all the primaries he has participated in.

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