The eventual defection of the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki into the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is ruffling feathers in the party which was all set for its governorship primary election before his dramatic entrance. Ahead of the earlier scheduled June 19 governorship primary election, three aspirants had already been screened. They are Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, a member of the House of Representatives, Kenneth Imasuangbon, a lawyer and educationist, and Gideon Ikhine, an engineer and businessman. The primary however had to be shifted twice to accommodate Obaaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu who joined the party on Friday.
The primary was first shifted to June 23, and then to June 25 to allow the duo who had been given waivers, to participate. The governor was also screened on Saturday at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja. However, the express admission of Obaseki and Shaibu into the party, and the signal from the leadership of the party to hand over the party’s governorship ticket to them, is not going down well with the aspirants who had vowed to resist any imposition of the defectors on the party.
While an indication emerged on Saturday that Ikhine may have succumbed to pressure and would be announcing his withdrawal on Monday, Ogbeide-Ihama and Imasuangbon had remained adamant, insisting that they would not step down.
Tell gathered that this lock-jam was the crux of a high-power meeting presently on-going at the Edo State government house with governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa joining Obaseki and top party leaders in the state to find a way out of the political quagmire. It was authoritatively gathered that a similar meeting held Saturday night between key leaders of the party and three of the governorship aspirants on the issue ended in a deadlock.
Imasuagbon, in a telephone interview last night, stuck to his gun that he would not to step down for Obaseki or anybody, stressing that such undemocratic posture was capable of jeopardizing his 16 years dream and financial commitments for the governorship project.
He said he expected Obaseki to step down for him considering his years of aspiration, funds and psychological implications such exercise would have caused him. “I cannot step down for Obaseki; he should be the one to step down for me. I am not going to step down for anybody. We have concluded congress before Obaseki came”, he insisted
He said, “Action by those calling for a step-down must be condemned by all; it is wicked and undemocratic. The military can’t do this; we don’t have democracy in Nigeria. What we have is autocracy. There is no morality in all this. He (Obaseki) can’t push my dream of 16 years away. Thank God for the position of Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare 11 who said he needs peace to prevail and that there should be no godfatherism.”
On whether there is pressure coming from eminent personalities, key leaders and elders of the PDP, Imasuagbon admitted that, “Yes, there is pressure from them,” but stressed that, “It is not about pressure but about doing the right thing in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, due process and the Electoral Act.”
He said “It is disappointing and a big shame in Edo State and the entire nation; and it portends danger for the country and the party. Nigerians should rise up against what is happening; we are not in the jungle, it is no do or die affair but about the process. It is totally unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, as the All Progressives Congress, APC, holds its primary election on Monday, the state government on Sunday reiterated its resolve to enforce the laws and regulations emplaced to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), charging political parties to restrict the conduct of their primary elections within the protocols and provisions of the state’s COVID-19 Quarantine Regulations and Gazette on political gatherings.
The Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, in a statement, noted that the state would spare no expense in upholding the law and protecting the lives of the people.