risis looms in the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over failure of the party’s leadership to convince other governorship aspirants to step down for Governor Godwin Obaseki ahead of the gubernatorial primaries slated for June 25.
Indication to this emerged yesterday as New Telegraph gathered that a meeting held Saturday night between key leaders and three of the party’s governorship aspirants over the primaries and other sensitive issues concerning the forthcoming gubernatorial election was deadlocked.
A source at the meeting told our correspondent that two of the governorship aspirants, Kenneth Imasuagbon and Hon. Omoregie Ihama, refused to yield to pressure being mounted by concerned individuals and groups with interests in the governorship contest in the state, especially forces close to the National Secretariat of PDP in Abuja.
This is as the immediate past state chairman of PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, is said to be angling for the deputy governorship position, a move that might further impede on-going negotiations as Obaseki is poised to run with his deputy, Philip Shaibu.
The logjam explains yesterday’s arrival of some PDP governors led by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and National Assembly lawmakers elected on the party’s platform in Benin, the Edo State capital, to team up with the state chapter of the party to persuade the three governorship aspirants – Imasuagbon, Ihama and Gideon Ikhine – to reconsider their stand on the plea by Governor Obaseki for the party’s ticket ahead of the September 19 poll.
But Imasuagbon, in a telephone interview last night, vowed not to step down for Obaseki or anybody, stressing that such undemocratic posture was capable of jeopardizing his 16 years dream and financial commitment to the governorship project.
His words: “I cannot step down for Obaseki, he should be the one to step down for me. I am not going to step down for anybody. We have concluded congress before Obaseki came.
“Those calling for a step down must be condemned by all; it is wicked and undemocratic. The military can’t do this; we don’t have democracy in Nigeria, what we have is autocracy. There is no morality in all this. He (Obaseki) can’t push my dream of 16 years away. Thank God for the position of the Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare II, who said he needs peace to prevail and that there should be no godfatherism.”
On whether there is pressure on him from eminent personalities, key leaders and elders of the PDP, Imasuagbon said: “Yes there is pressure from them,” but stressed that “it is not about pressure, but about doing the right thing in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Electoral Act and due process.”
He added: “It is disappointing and a big shame in Edo State and the entire nation and it portends danger for the country and the party. Nigerians should rise up against what is happening; we are not in the jungle, it is not a do-or-die but about the process. It is totally unacceptable.”
Ihama, who was contacted on the issue last night, however kept mum, saying that he was in a meeting and cannot make any comment whatsoever.
Ikhine, on his part, is said to have resolved to make public his position today, a move that might favour Governor Obaseki.
Meanwhile, the state government, yesterday, reiterated its resolve to enforce extant laws and regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus, with a charge to political parties to restrict the conduct of their primary elections within the protocols and provisions of the state’s COVID-19 Quarantine Regulations on political gatherings.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, in a statement, noted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was acting in defiance of the law.
“We note with concern that all the political parties conducting primary elections in Edo State have notified the government of their readiness to comply with the extant laws and COVID-19 regulations, except APC.
“The APC appears resolved to carry on with the conduct of their primary election in violation of the Edo State COVID-19 Quarantine Regulations and the state Government’s Gazette on political gatherings in a pandemic.”