Oshiomhole succession: Shadow boxing in Edo State

Nigerian News

Though with over two years to serve out his second term, associates of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State are engaged in deep intrigues to position themselves in the line of favour. Comrade Oshiomhole does not want to be regarded as a lame duck and is now whipping them into line BY SIMON EBEGBULEM


commencement of the registration of members of the All Progressive Congress, APC could well be the commencement of the interesting battle to find a successor for the incumbent governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The battle is especially keen in Edo South senatorial district, the most populated region of the state which almost everyone expects to provide the APC candidate for the 2016 battle. So while it is agreed where, but the question of who, remains the dominating issue among political pundits. Among those in contention are the two most dominant persons from Edo South in the APC presently, the Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu and the former South South Vice Chairman of the former Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

Others also being mentioned are the former Minister of State for Works, Chief Chris Ogienwonyi, whom Vanguard learnt may have concluded plans to dump the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the APC. Another name being mentioned is Chief Solomon Edebiri, who flew the ticket of the former All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP in the 2012 contest. There are others Vanguard learnt may also join the race but who are still monitoring the battle between Odubu and Ize-Iyamu. At least, many are also expecting Oshiomhole who is shrewdly setting up an independent political structure to throw his own man as a way of protecting him in the ensuing battle of wits between his deputy and Pastor Ize-Iyamu. The open threats of the pastor’s supporters in their pursuit of their objective have frayed the nerves of the governor who is believed to see their actions as blackmail. Protecting Oshiomhole’s legacy Handy for Oshiomhole in asserting his wish against pastor and Odubu is the new group, Edo Solidarity Movement led by his Political Adviser and veteran political fighter, Charles Idahosa. Another pro-Oshiomhole group that would also prove helpful to him is Edo in Safe Hands anchored by his former Chief of Staff and current Commissioner for Works, Barr.Osarodion Ogie and the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, Comrade Philip Shaibu. Just penultimate week, these two groups reached an agreement to work together to protect the Oshiomhole legacy. Remarkably, Odubu was one of those who founded the Edo in Safe Hands before the 2012 election, but quixotically donated his input to the benefit of the governor as a demonstration of loyalty. In the midst of the developments entered yet another group, the Edo South Consultative Forum led by first civilian governor of the state, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. Penultimate Saturday, the group summoned a meeting of all leaders of the South at the former governor’s residence in Benin but the invitation was shunned by Odubu, the incumbent representative in the Senate, Senator Ehigie Uzamere and many in the Idahosa led Edo Solidarity Movement (ESM). However, a couple of the governor’s loyalists including Ogie, Elder Sunny Uyigue, APC interim chairman, Chief Osaro Idah, Comrade Godwin Erhahon, Chief of Staff to the governor, Patrick Obahiagbon were all at the meeting.

Prior to the meeting, Oyegun, Chief Sam Iredia and Prince Eweka had visited APC Bini leaders, and also Governor Oshiomhole, during which they stressed the need for the Binis to speak with one voice, due to the bickering in the party ahead the 2016 governorship election. Oshiomhole was said to have agreed with them and encouraged his men to attend the meeting. Odubu’s loyalists, however, alleged that the meeting was a trap to hoodwink Edo South leaders to adopt Ize-Iyamu and therefore decided to abstain themselves. Not surprisingly for them, those fears came to reality when some speakers at the meeting expressed their support for Ize-Iyamu. But that move was said to have been punctured by Uyigue and Chief Idah, who are Oshiomhole’s men. The duo reminded the meeting that a section of leaders from the South was not at the meeting, therefore, it was best for all to be present before adoption of common positions. Debunking the insinuation that the group was fronting for a particular candidate, the group in a communiqué signed by Oyegun and Isaiah Osifo, Secretary, asserted that “the forum is not designed to support or sponsor a particular candidate for any elective office at any level. The platform will be available to all aspirants to political offices to exercise their rights within the rules and regulations of our great party”. However, Oyegun’s moves to reconcile his people has hit a brick wall, as Vanguard was reliably informed that the Odubu camp and even loyalists of the governor are not comfortable with the names pencilled as members of the reconciliation committee. Meanwhile, Oshiomhole is pressing home his advantage as party leader in holding tight to the structure of the party by not giving the two dominant groups as represented by Ize-Iyamu and Odubu much room for manouvere in the APC membership registration exercise kicking off today. At a leadership meeting held last week at Government House, the governor informed the leaders of the names he selected from the three senatorial districts to join the two persons delegated by the national secretariat to form the five man committee to supervise the registration exercise. The three are Godwin Adenomo, Edo South; Momodu Andrew, Edo North and Dan Enebi, Edo Central. Increasing intrigues It was gathered that one of the governorship aspirants opposed the governor on the nomination of Adenomo, but Oshiomhole stood his ground and he was backed by other leaders from the South. Vanguard learnt that all three men selected from the three senatorial districts are leg-men of the governor. Worried by the increasing intrigues of those aiming to succeed him, Oshiomhole broke his silence last week during the swearing in of the Commissioner for Sports, Chris Okaeben, when he warned them that they were distracting him. “Only God knows among all of us standing here who will be where because life is in the hand of God. For now, we must use the current mandate and that is why I want to renew my appeal to everyone, that this party is not about gubernatorial candidate, and anyone who wants to devote his time to gubernatorial campaign, can easily be excused.” With a legacy to protect, and a still promising political future in view, Oshiomhole it seems would not mind using the power of incumbency to whip the contending forces around him into line. Ize-Iyamu who once fought Chief Tony Anenih to standstill may have a younger, more intimidating force to contend with. He sure knows it.

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