Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Edo 2012:Those who’ll fly PDP banner

Beginning from May 29, 1999, the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) won almost 99% of
the elective positions in Edo State with very
feeble challenge from the then opposition –
the All Peoples Party (now All Nigerian
Peoples Party) and the Alliance for
Democracy (AD).
As its popularity soared as the party of choice,
contending interests within Edo PDP
struggled for primacy over who should hold
party, executive, legislative and appointive
positions. Like all human aggregations, the
struggles became an admixture of selflessness,
guile, mutual distrust and uncontrollable bile.
While it is true that politics blossoms on
competing interests, ideas and persons
jostling for power, it is practically impossible
to satisfy the aspirations of all party people
in contention. It is even more difficult to do
so in a popular and well-organised party like
the PDP with a complement of educated,
skilled, qualified and intelligent members who
are competing for the limited elective and
appointive positions at party, executive and
legislative levels.
The application of party primaries (using
either the direct or electoral college models) to
elect candidates from the pool of qualified
aspirants, has tended to be the most
acceptable system of choosing candidates to
both the aspirants and their supporters when
set rules of due diligence are applied and seen
to be implemented without bias or sentiment.
What went wrong
One of the key factors that nailed and
rubbished Edo PDP’s acclaimed cohesiveness
at local and state elections and turned its
fortunes into a near-interminable incubus, is
the conduct (or misconduct) of acceptable
primaries with discernable Rules of
Engagement. The one for governorship
conducted on Saturday, December 9, 2006 has
been the first, and the last exercise of its sort
that had indices and colorations of a party
Another factor had to do with the poor
Performance Index of the partyman who
held forte in Government House, Benin City
between May 29, 1999 and May 29, 2007. It is
instructive to note that this same person
promoted and floated the present opposition
party in the state with his supporters forming
the power matrix of governance in the state.
A thin vinyl of political gossamer separates
the operators of the present government in
Edo State from the culpability which was
perpetrated by their chief promoter in the
eight years of inaction, rot and neglect.
PDP’s vice-like hold on to power in Edo State,
collapsed more out of “friendly fires” than
the political dexterity, acceptability and
organisational ability of the opposition.
Infact, the opposition is PDP.
The season of renaissance
Since the Court of Appeal judgment of
November 11, 2008, committed partymen and
women have done a lot of rapprochement and
damage control across the political fault lines
within the party structure to paper over the
cracks and tinker a brand new PDP nurtured
on the best practices of equity, fairplay and
internal democratic values.
The gladiators
The main contenders competing for
prominence at the forthcoming Edo PDP
governorship primaries are (a) Professor
(Senator) Oserheimen Aigberaodion Osunbor
(b) Major – General Charles Ehigie
Airhiavbere (retd) and (c) Barrister Kenneth
Imansuagbon. The two names frequently
showing on the political radar of Edo PDP
are those of Senator Magnus Odion Ugbesia
and Captain Hosa Okunbor. After persistent
enquiries, it was discovered that Senator
Ugbesia is engrossed in his current position as
the Senator representing Edo Central at the
National Assembly in Abuja while Captain
Okunbor is believed to be apathetic to all
pressures to join the governorship fray as he
prefers to play a stabilizing role within the
Professor Oserheimen Osunbor: Professor
Osunbor, emeritus Professor and Head of
Department of Business Law (1990 to 1996)
and Dean, Faculty of Law (1996 to 1999) at
the Lagos State University, is an eminent
practitioner of Law with emphasis on legal
drafting and litigation since 1976.
Professor Osunbor graduated with a First
Class Honours Bachelor of Laws (LL.B)
degree from the University of Nigeria,
Nsukka in 1975 and doctorate in Law from
the University of Warwick, Coventry,
England in 1981.
He was twice Senator representing Edo
Central Senatorial District from 1999 to 2007,
Professor Osunbor was a delegate to the
Constitutional Conference (1994 – 1995)
and Chairman of its Sub-Committee on
A pioneer member of the Peoples Democratic
Party, he was elected the Governor of Edo
State on April 14, 2007 and recorded ground-
breaking achievements and strides before the
Court of Appeal judgment of November 11,
2008 truncated his administration after
barely 18 months in office.
A consummate administrator and stickler for
efficiency, due diligence and corporate
governance best practices, Professor Osunbor
will be deploying his experience, academic
excellence, national and international
networks, and accumulated clout within and
outside the PDP at the service of Edo State.
His undying resolve to foster and engender
the prompt and equitable delivery of the fruits
of good governance to all Edo people provided
the litmus test for the optimum performance
he displayed as the Governor of Edo State
between May 29, 2007 and November 11,
(b)Major –General Charles Airhiavbere
(retd): Maj-Gen. Airhiavbere is the immediate
past Director of Army Firnance Corps and
Directing Staff of National Institute of
Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru, Jos, who
retired from the Nigerian Army on July 11,
2011 to pursue his pet dream of becoming the
next Governor of Edo State. Apart from his
many decades stint in the military, not much
is known about this military accountant
except that he picked his PDP membership
card from his ward in Benin City, the Edo
State capital immediately after he was pulled
out of the Army. It is believed that the overall
campaign projections of his campaign outfit
is built on a fulcrum of unlimited funding to
garner a support base within the party. It is
not known whether the support so gathered
will last as past experiences have shown that
the highest bidder is not always the victor .
Some political watchers in the state point to
insinuations that the Airhiavbere foray into
Edo State politics, just months after his
retirement from the Army, may well be a
carry over from the projections in certain
quarters that the PDP in Edo State will only
prosper if the Edo South Senatorial District
produces the party candidate.
(b)Barrister Kenneth Imansuagbon:
Barrister Kenneth Imansuagbon is a latter-
day convert to the Peoples Democratic Party
in Edo State. He was a foundation member /
part-financier of the defunct Advanced
Congress of Democrats (ACD), the precursor
of the Action Congress (and now Action
Congress of Nigeria). During the run-up to
the 2007 elections, Barrister Imansuagbon
was a frontline aspirant under the ACN until
he was cleverly relegated further down in the
perking order in that party’s affairs.
He crossed over to the PDP in 2009 with a big
baggage of angst and bile against the ACN –
a party he spoon-fed with revenue from his
flourishing educational institutions in
Maryland, United States of America and
Abuja, Nigeria.
Barrister Imansuagbon enters the
governorship race of Edo PDP with the tag of
an overtly ambitious youngman who has come
into the PDP with the sole aim of using it as
a veritable platform to get back at his ACN
traducers and also achieve his aim of ruling
Edo State, to boot.
Like Major-General Charles Ehigie
Airhiavbere, Barrister Imansuagbon lacks the
personal electoral platform, style and
grassroots appeal to make meaningful impact
on the forthcoming electoral contest. Rather
the impetus has been built on large war chests.
To compound matters, the recent defection to
the ACN of Barrister Henry Idahagbon, a
former Commissioner in the Igbinedion
Administration and ex-Chairman of Egor
Local Government Council and lately the
Director-General of Barrister Kenneth
Imansuagbon Campaign Organisation,
speaks volumes of the readiness and
seriousness of the principal himself. It is
believed by political observers that Idahagbon’s
decampment is a sad commentary by an
insider who, before he voted with his feet, was
privy to all the action plans, financial outlay
and strategic roadmap of Imansuagbon in his
avowed quest to wrest power from the ACN.
Idahagbon defected from the Imansuagbon
camp less than three months after he was
appointed as the Director-General. It clearly
indicates his assessment of Imansuagbon’s
aspiration as not worthwhile and sustainable.
Who holds all the aces?
By his orientation and disposition, Professor
Osunbor represents that platform for the
evolution of benevolent governance with
human face, where the average Edolite will be
at the centre-stage of government’s policies,
programmes and projects. With the prospect
of not being subjected to dictatorial
regimentation, serial violence, climate of
insecurity and induced fear by a government
that is supposed to champion and promote
their happiness, Edolites roll gladly welcome
an encore for Professor Osunbor.
Osunbor is primed and ready to provide that
positive leadership that will free Edo State and
its people from hollow and self-serving
“revolutionary” mantras and executive high
The forthcoming Edo PDP governorship
primaries provides that rare opportunity to
choose that party candidate that will bear the
ensign of all well-meaning but cowed populace
of Edo State in the July 14, 2012 governorship
election in the state.

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