As the window for the online submission of candidates given to political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) comes to a close on March 24th, 2024, the road leading to the September 21 governorship election in Edo State is getting clearer as leading candidates seeking to occupy the state’s number one seat have picked their running mates.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Dr Asue Ighodalo, last week announced Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Osarodion Ogie, as his running mate.

With the emergence of Dr Ighodalo, who hails from Edo Central Senatorial District, as the candidate of the PDP, the party has shown character and demonstrated that it values equity and fairness by zoning the seat of power to the Esan people, something stakeholders had been clamouring for even before INEC released the timetable for the election.

As a follow-up, the PDP has also shown its readiness to retain power in the state by picking Barr Ogie, who hails from Edo South Senatorial District, a zone with the largest voting strength in the state, as its Deputy Governorship candidate.

Barr. Ogie is a household name and a formidable force as far as Edo South Senatorial District is concerned and his personality as a leader over the years in the state will be an added advantage to the PDP towards retaining power when the administration of incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki comes to an end in November.

Also, with the current Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Blessing Agbebaku, who is a member of the PDP and hails from Edo North, the PDP has demonstrated its belief that every part of the state should be represented in power. The party has shown it hates anything that is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. With Ighodalo, from Edo Central, as the party’s flag-bearer; his running mate, Barr Ogie, from Edo South, and the Assembly Speaker from Edo North, would be the most balanced power sharing formula if the party emerges victorious come September 21.

The PDP looks set to hit the ground running as the party and its candidate await the kick-off of public campaign on April 24, 2024, as stated in the INEC timetable, so as to roll out their manifesto and share their vision for the state with the Edo people.

Similarly, the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), appears to have resolved its internal crisis. The party earlier this week officially unveiled member representing Ovia Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Dennis Idahosa, as the running mate to its gubernatorial candidate, Senator Monday Okpebholo.

Idahosa, who came second following the controversial APC primary election held on February 21st after the initial primary held on February 17th was cancelled by the national leadership of the party, reached an agreement to become the party’s deputy governorship candidate after a peace meeting brokered by Vice President Kashim Shettima, APC National Chairman Abdullahi Ganduje, National Secretary Ajibola Bashiru, and Senator Adams Oshiomhole in Abuja on Sunday night.

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This move by the APC in resolving its internal crisis has brought to limelight the party’s zeal to reclaim the number one seat in Edo State as the administration of Governor Obaseki winds down.

Now that the leaders of the party have agreed to put behind their differences and work together in the interest of the party, what therefore lies ahead for the APC is for the party to roll up its sleeves and market its candidate and manifesto to the people of the state across the 192 wards in the three senatorial zone when public campaign begins on April 24th.

With the governorship candidate, Senator Okpebholo, who hails from Edo Central, the party has also positioned itself along the line of equity and fairness, just like the PDP. Therefore, when the chips are down, the APC won’t be found wanting because it has keyed into the yearnings and demands of stakeholders across the state.

Also, having picked Hon Idahosa, a current lawmaker in the National Assembly who hails from Edo South, APC has demonstrated its readiness to match the PDP strategy for strategy in the coming election. Analysts believe that the Ovia federal lawmaker will be an added force to the party’s ticket. They also say that the likes of former deputy governor, Pius Odubu, former governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, former deputy governor, Lucky Imasuen, former senator representing Edo South, Matthew Urhoghide, and former member representing Oredo Federal Constituency, Hon Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, will be a driving force for the party in Edo South.

In Edo North Senatorial District, which is apparently the party’s strongest hold due to the presence of former governor and current senator representing Edo North at the National Assembly, Senator Oshiomhole, the party will be banking on the charismatic personality of Oshiomhole who is widely revered and whose contributions to the development of the senatorial zone with landmark projects and institutions are well known.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party governorship candidate, Olumide Akpata, who hails from Edo South Senatorial District, is yet to announce his running mate, at least as at the time of filing this report.

Akpata is from the same zone with outgoing Governor Obaseki, and so does not seem favoured by the zoning arrangement at a time the clamour is loud for power to shift to Edo Central. However, he may be banking on the success of the Labour Party in the state in the 2023 general election. The party, apart from winning the presidential election in the state in the last general election, also clinched the senatorial seat of Edo South. Analysts say that will serve as a moral booster for the Labour Party and its flag-bearer as they head towards the September 21 gubernatorial election.

Akpata, who is the immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), will be bringing his experience to bear as someone that has led the legal profession in Nigeria as the party heads into poll.

The people of Edo State are eager for public campaign to commence so they can hear what the various political parties and their candidates have to tell them in order for them to make a good decision on whom to vote for. However, one thing is certain: whoever emerges the governor on September 21 will be stepping into very big shoes given the giant developmental strides that Governor Obaseki has undertaken in the last over seven years. Edolites wait with bated breath.