…Uzodimma heads primary election committee

The Edo State political landscape is vibrating with activities as the All Progressives Congress (APC) goes into a decisive gubernatorial primary election tomorrow, February 17, 2024. The stakes are high, with 12 formidable aspirants having been cleared by the party to step into the fray, each armed with ambition and a vision for the future of the state. These aspirants within the APC threw their hats into the ring when they purchased the party’s expression of interest and nomination forms indicating their intention to vie for the governorship ticket despite the recommendation of the Hon. Julius Ihonvbere-led committee that the number of aspirants be reduced to four and by all means aim for a consensus candidate.

As the APC aspirants traverse the intricate web of Edo politics, the primaries become a crucial battleground for them to showcase not just financial prowess but also political acumen and a genuine connection with the electorate. With February 17 less than 24 hours away, the stage is set for a pivotal moment that will shape the trajectory of Edo State politics, culminating in the main gubernatorial election scheduled for September 21, 2024. The political chessboard is set, and the APC, with its diverse array of aspirants, stands ready to navigate the twists and turns of a challenging journey that it hopes will dislodge the PDP from power.

The APC has adopted direct primary as the method to elect its governorship candidate. This means that across 192 wards in Edo State where the party will have its primary election, every card-carrying member of the party will vote and elect a candidate that will square up with candidates from other political parties in the September election.

Last week, the APC in a statement said it has cleared 12 aspirants to contest the party’s primary election. The screening exercise was held from Thursday, February 8 to Friday, February 9, 2024.

According to APC National Organising Secretary, Sulaiman Arugungu, the cleared aspirants include former Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba; Senator representing Edo Central, Monday Okpebholo; former Deputy Governor, Lucky Imasuen; member representing Etsako Federal Constituency, Hon. Anamero Dekeri; former APC governorship candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and Gideon Ikhine.

Others cleared are the immediate past Edo APC chairman, Col. David Imuse (retd.); former Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Maj-Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (retd.); former Edo State Governor, Oserhiemen Osunbor; former Zonal Organising Secretary (South-South), Dr. Blessing Agbomhere; member representing Ovia South/West-Ovia North/East Federal Constituency, Dennis Idahosa, and Dr. Ernest Umakhihe.

Among the twelve aspirants cleared to contest the party’s primary, five are from Edo Central, four from Edo South, and three from Edo North.

However, Edo Central seems to enjoy massive support across different parties as stakeholders have clamoured that all political parties should zone their ticket to Edo Central.

But the APC said it has jettisoned zoning and threw its ticket open to all aspirants irrespective of their senatorial zone.

“There will be no zoning. Not at all,” the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Duro Meseko, stated at a news conference in Abuja on January 16, 2024.

Edo Central Senatorial District, which leads the pack of aspirants and parades personalities such as Senator Okpebholo, Col. Imuse, Prof. Osunbor, and Gideon Ikhine, appears to be favourite to produce the party’s flag bearer.

Similarly, APC leader in Edo State, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, seems to have abandoned his preferred choice in the 2020 governorship election, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, who hails from Edo South, which many interpret to signal that the former governor may be pitching his tent with Edo Central to produce the party’s candidate.

We take a look at some of the aspirants to watch as APC heads into its primary election.

Senator Monday Okpebholo

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The senator representing Edo Central at the National Assembly, Senator Okpebholo, will certainly be a formidable force heading into the primary election because as a sitting senator, he has the financial prowess to mobilize support and has the capacity to influence leaders of the party to his favour. Senator Oshiomhole, who is the leader of the party in the state, is also Senator Okpebholo’s colleague and this relationship they have as members of the 10th NASS can go a long way to boost the chances and support for the Edo Central senator.

Col. David Imuse

Another personality to look out for as the APC heads into its primaries is the immediate past Edo State APC Chairman, Col. David Imuse (Retd). Col. Imuse has been a long-term ally of the state APC leader, Senator Oshiomhole. Also, having served as the state chairman of the APC, Imuse no doubts wields enormous influence in the party, his robust connection, influence and experience put him in centre-stage as an aspirant to watch out for.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu

A major aspirant from Edo South Senatorial District to look out for is Pastor Ize-Iyamu, a former Chief of Staff and former Secretary to the Edo State Government. He was the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the Edo 2016 governorship election and the APC candidate in the Edo 2020 governorship election. In both instances, he lost to the current governor, Godwin Obaseki.

Ize-iyamu can be described as one of the aspirants with formidable political structure with huge followers across the three senatorial districts of the state. He is an experienced politician and no doubt one of the aspirants to watch out for in the battle for the APC governorship ticket. In 2020 he enjoyed massive support from Senator Oshiomhole, who ensured Ize-Iyamu got the party ticket despite joining the party few weeks to the primary election. But heading into the primary election this weekend, the scenario seems to be different from the events of 2020.

Uzodimma heads primary election committee

Meanwhile, the APC has announced Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, as chairman of a seven-member committee that will conduct the February 17 primary election to elect the party’s governorship candidate in Edo State.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by the APC National Organising Secretary, Sulaiman Argungu.

Argungu also stated that Uzodimma will be assisted by the Governor of Cross River State, Bassey Otu, who has been chosen as Deputy Chairman.

“Other members of the Primary Election Committee include former Osun State deputy governor, Mrs Titilayo Laoye-Tomori; APC’s flag bearer in the Plateau State 2023 governorship election, Nentanwe Yilwatde Goshwe; Umar Musa; Lawan Garba and Rabiu Suleiman, who will serve as the Secretary,” he said.

The party also stated that it has constituted an appeal committee for the governorship primary election with C. C. Udenwa as Chairman and Yunusa Mohammed as Secretary.

Other members include Muhammad Zakaria Sarina; Udogu Anthony Chijoke and Muhammad Garin Ali.

The nominated members of Edo State National Gubernatorial Primary Election Committee and Election Appeal Committee were inaugurated on Thursday at the party’s National Working Committee Hall in Abuja.