Following the release of the timetable for Edo 2024 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday, 26 September 2023, the list of persons aspiring to take over the reins of government from the incumbent governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has continued to grow.

According to INEC, Governor Obaseki’s tenure in office will come to an end on 11 November 2024. Obaseki was first sworn in as governor of Edo State on 11 November 2016 for a four-year term and was reelected for another four-year term in 2020.

INEC’s timetable and schedule of activities showed that the Edo State governorship election will hold on Saturday, 21 September 2024. INEC noted that the move was in pursuance of the provisions of Section 178 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) – that election into the said office shall be held not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the tenure of the last holder of the office. Similarly, Section 28(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 requires the Commission to publish notice for the election not later than 360 days before the date of the election.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by the Constitution and the Electoral Act, the Commission issues the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Edo State Governorship elections as follows:

“The Edo governorship election will hold on Saturday, September 21, 2024.

“Party primaries will hold from February 1-24, 2024 while the submission of the list of nominated candidates via the online portal will start at 9.00 a.m. on March 4, 2024, and close at 6.00 p.m. on March 24, 2024.

“The final list of candidates will be published on April 23, 2024, while the campaign in public by political parties commences on April 24, 2024, and ends 24 hours prior to election day on September 19, 2024,” INEC said in a statement signed by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun.

A growing list of aspirants
Barely a year into the Edo State 2024 governorship election, the number of persons eyeing the state’s number one seat has continued to rise. While some of the aspirants have made their interest known to their political parties, some others are still within the realms of speculation.

At the moment, there are more than 30 aspirants jostling to succeed Governor Obaseki at Dennis Osadebay House come 2024. Three political parties – the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Labour Party (LP) – account for most of these aspirants.

At the last count, the APC has over nine aspirants, the PDP parades over six, while the Labour Party has over 15 aspirants that are officially recognised by the party.

Those aspiring on the platform of the APC include Mr. Joseph Ikpea, Gideon Obhakhan, Col. David Imuse (Retd.), Monday Okpebholo, Prof Osariemhen Osunbor, immediate past Minister of State for Budget and National Planning Clem Agba, Maj. Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, and so on.

The Labour Party parades names like Prof Sunny Eromosele Eboh, Mr Olumide Akpata, Mr. Kenneth Imansuagbon, Dr Dorry Okojie, Pastor Azemhen Azena, among others.

In the PDP, the list includes the incumbent Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, Gideon Ikhine, Anselm Ojezua, Ogbeide Ihama, Asue Ighodalo, among others.

A look at some of the aspirants
Clem Agba

An economist, former Chevron Manager, former Commissioner for Environment, Edo State, and former Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Agba is one of those seriously eyeing the governorship seat.

Gideon Ikhine

Engineer Ikhine is a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE) and a member of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN). The 1990 graduate of Civil Engineering from the University of Benin was Director-General of the Obaseki/Shaibu Campaign Organisation. He was one of the aspirants who stepped down for Governor Obaseki during the 2020 PDP primaries after the governor, who was then in the APC, was stopped by his party.

Kenneth Imansuagbon

Popularly known as the “rice man” because of his annual rice sharing gesture, Imansuagbon, a Law graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), is regarded by many as Edo State veteran governorship aspirant. He has been seeking the seat for over 20 years. He is from Edo Central.

Olumide Akpata

Olumide Osaigbovo Akpata is the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and a former Chairman of the NBA Section on Business Law. The renowned business lawyer, who is aspiring to contest the 2024 Edo governorship election under the platform of the Labour Party, hails from Edo South.

Azemhen Azena

Pastor Azemhen Azena is the Edo State resident pastor of Omega Fire Ministry. He has since declared his interest to fly the flag of the Labour Party in the 2024 governorship election.

Ogbeide Ihama

Hon. Ogbeide Ihama, a former member of the House of Representatives who represented Oredo Federal Constituency, is also being tipped as an aspirant for the coming governorship election on the platform of the PDP.

Anselm Ojezua

Billboards bearing the image of the former Chairman of APC in Edo State, Mr Anselm Ojezua, have been seen flooding the streets of Benin City and other parts of the state. The billboards indicate Ojezua’s interest to run for the 2024 Edo governorship election under the PDP platform.

Philip Shaibu

Deputy Governor Shaibu is graduate of University of Jos, two-time member of Edo House of Assembly, and former member of the House of Representatives representing Etsako Federal Constituency. Shaibu, who hails from Edo North, has indicated his interest to contest the 2024 governorship election on the PDP platform.

Asue Ighodalo

Asue Ighodalo, an economist and lawyer, hails from Esan South-East LGA in Edo Central of Edo State. Ighodalo, co-founder of the law firm of Banwo & Ighodalo, chairs the Boards of Directors of several companies. He is Chairman, Sterling Bank, and Chairman, Nigerian Breweries Plc. He is also Chairman of the Board of Alaghodaro Economic Summit Ltd/Gte. Although he has not officially declared his intention to run for the governorship seat, close sources say he is in for the race.

Osariemen Osunbor

Prof Osunbor was elected governor of Edo State in April 2007 but was sacked by the court on 11 November 2008 to pave the way for the emergence of Adams Oshiomhole. Osunbor, who hails from Iruekpen in Edo Central, is eyeing a return to Osadebay Avenue come 2024. He is of the APC stock.

Gideon Obhakhan

Obhakhan, a University of Benin graduate of Electrical/Electronic Engineering, worked with MTN Nigeria and was Commissioner for Education in the Adams Oshiomhole administration.

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Monday Okpebholo

Okpebholo is aspiring to be the APC flagbearer in the Edo 2024 governorship election. He is currently said to be enjoying support and getting assurances from the leadership of the party both at the national and state levels and is also said to have the financial wherewithal to pursue his ambition.

David Imuse

Col. Imuse is the current chairman of APC in Edo State. A medical doctor, graduate of University of Benin, and military personnel, he hails from Edo Central.

Joseph Ikpea

Dr. Joseph Ikpea, former chairman, Esan South-East LGA and Edo State Commissioner for Solid Minerals, Oil and Gas, is an administrator at Lee Engineering and Construction Company Limited. He trained at the Petroleum Training Institute, Warri before going to obtain Bachelor of Science degree in Management and a Master’s degree in Crime Control Management from Delta State University, Abraka. Ikpea holds an honorary doctorate degree from American University in Public Administration and leadership and a doctorate degree from Indiana Christian University, America.

Dorry Okojie

Dr Dorry Okojie, in his mid-40s, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the Plymouth University, United Kingdom, and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Nottingham, also in the United Kingdom. He is contesting under the platform of the Labour Party.

Matthew Urhoghide

On 1 August 2023, Senator Matthew Urhoghide visited the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State chapter, where he formally intimated Edo journalists of his intentions to vie for the governorship. Senator Urhoghide, who left the PDP recently, has not officially unveiled the platform he will be running on.

The zoning question

As the race for who occupies Dennis Osadebay House in 2024 hots up, the issue of zoning has been brought to the front burner, with sentiments apparently in favour of Edo Central.

Political pundits and stakeholders believe that the agitation by Edo Central to produce the next governor of the “Heartbeat of the Nation” is a move geared towards natural justice, equity and fairness.

An analysis of the occupancy of the Edo governorship seat since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999 indicates that out of the three zones of the state – Edo North, Edo South and Edo Central – Edo Central is the only one that has not been adequately represented.

At the dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Edo South produced the first governor in the person of Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion, who was governor until 2007. Thereafter, Edo Central had a shot at the governorship seat when Prof Osunbor, then of the PDP, was declared winner of the 2007 governorship election against Adams Oshiomhole of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN). However, Prof Osunbor’s tenure as governor was cut short by the Election Petition Tribunal which sacked him and declared Oshiomhole winner. The judgement was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal in November 2008, and Oshomhole assumed office as governor on 11 November 2008. Oshiomhole, who hails from Edo North, was governor for two terms, completing his second term on 11 November 2016.

Then came Governor Obaseki, who is from Edo South. Obaseki has spent seven years in office and his tenure is billed to end 11 November 2024.

Expectedly, stakeholders in Edo Central Senatorial District are lobbying and appealing to the conscience of the other zones for support in the spirit of equity, fairness and sense of belonging for the zone to produce the next governor.

Analysts and some political juggernauts in the state also say the quest by Edo Central to produce the next governor of the state is justified. Senator Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki are also said to be favourably disposed to the quest by Edo Central.

PDP unveils timetable

In the meantime, the National Working Committee of the PDP has released its schedule of activities ahead of the Edo State governorship election.

The timetable, which was signed by the party’s National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature, was released on Thursday after a joint meeting of the Board of Trustees and National Executive Committee of the party at its headquarters in Abuja.

The party disclosed that the congress to determine its governorship candidate would take place on 22 February 2024. It said aspiring candidates vying for the coveted position are required to obtain the nomination form for N21 million, with a notable 50 percent discount offered to youths aged between 25 and 30.

According to the timetable, registration of old and new party members will take place November 16-December 7, while December 14 is the deadline for the submission of ward registers to the Directorate of Organisation and Mobilization.

Other scheduled activities and their timelines are as follows:

December 19-20: Stakeholders’ consultative meeting with the National Working Group.

January 10-16: Sales of expression of interest and ad-hoc forms for all offices.

January 17: Last day for the submission of completed expression of interest and ad-hoc forms.

January 18, 2024: Screening of aspirants for the governorship seat by the National Working Committee.

January 19-25: Sales of nomination forms for aspirants who completed and submitted their expression of interest forms.

January 27: Deadline for the submission of completed nomination forms.

February 22: Governorship primary.

February 24: Appeal on the governorship primary.

No news yet from other parties

At the time of filing this report, the APC, Labour Party and other political parties were yet to release their timetable for the Edo 2024 governorship election.