NIGERIA’S main opposition the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has given Governor Godwin Obaseki several conditions he has to meet before being accepted as its candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections.
Across Edo State, the political temperature has risen dramatically over the last few weeks after the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) rejected Governor Obaseki’s nomination to stand as its candidate for a second term in elections due this September. On June 22, the APC is due to hold its primaries but on Friday, Governor Obaseki’s nomination was rejected after a screening committee said there were discrepancies with his academic certificates.
Governor Obaseki and his predecessor, APC national chairman Adams Oshiomhole have been involved in a bitter spat over who controls the party in the state. Things boiled over yesterday when the APC announced that Governor Obaseki and two other candidates were barred from standing in the June 22 primaries, with Mr Oshiomhole his weight behind challenger Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a former secretary to the Edo State government.
In a swift reaction, Governor Obaseki refused to appeal the decision but opted to collect a PDP party membership card in Oredo Local Government Area of the state. Apparently, he has moved to the PDP along with all the 18 local government chairmen in Edo State together with 12 lawmakers in the Edo State House of Assembly.
Adding to the momentum behind the governor, former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2019 elections has thrown his weight behind Governor Obaseki. However, one highly placed PDP official pointed out that the governor was asked to take some steps before he could be accepted as the party’s candidate.
Chief among the conditions was the directive that the governor should meet with the three PDP governorship aspirants screened by the party ’s screening committee. They are Gideon Ikhine , Ogbeide Ihama and Kenneth Imansuangbon and the party wants the governor to reach a consensus with them.
Other PDP national leaders also want Governor Obaseki to meet with the party leadership in the state to seek their support and understanding. According to the official, there was no way the national PDP would support the governor without the approval of its officials in Edo State, including the aspirants.
They are thought to be particularly afraid that if local party leaders in the state were not carried along in the arrangement, it could boomerang. They are worried that imposing a candidate on them could lead to the defection of aggrieved members to either the APC or any other political party.
“We at the national level are not interested in imposing the governor or anyone on the party in the state . He is going to be their governor and the people of the state are the voters, so our own is to campaign for him and our party.
“The governor is not yet a member of our party. We have laboured to remain relevant in the state and our popularity shows that we are going to win the forthcoming election. We are talking to the leaders of our party in the state . They have the final say on whether the governor should join or not.”
It is also believed that some PDP members in the state are also keen to be allowed to select the governor’s deputy. At the moment, Philip Shaibu is Governor Obaseki’s deputy but some PDP members want to select one of their own to replace him.