Edo PDP: Never a Good Time to Play Russian Roulette – By David Ude
POLITICS DIGEST – With less than a year to the governorship election in Edo state, there has begun an interplay of political forces as the dominant political parties – the all progressives congress and the people’s democratic party – commence a much needed house cleaning process for self re-positioning ahead of the election.
The ruling party in the state, the APC, is no doubt a house in chaos. There is currently no love lost between the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, and national chairman Adams Oshiomhole. The pretense to the political romance was exposed last week when the governor was attacked while visiting the residence of Qshiomhole in Iyamho, following the landmark convocation ceremony of the Edo State University.
Jolted to the reality of the incident, Governor Obaseki expressed shock over the state of affairs, stating that it is unfortunate that he can’t feel safe in the residence of the national chairman of his party. The Governor perhaps couldn’t find a better context to the shocking incident, saying he certainly would not have been subjected to such an embarrassing attack had he visited the home of the PDP chairman.
For the APC, things may not just be falling apart, but on the verge of collapse. Just two days ago, the state chapter of the party passed a vote of no confidence on the national chairman Adams Oshiomhole, openly admitting to the depth of the crack within its ranks.
How the APC intends to resolve this agonizing affliction remains to be seen, especially with the Peoples Democratic Party waiting in the wings.
However, it is not also a rosy tale in the opposition party. Two days ago, a certain assemblage, which calls itself “PDP Integrity Group’ announced the suspension of top elder-statesmen of the party. On the list were former Foreign Affairs Minister High Chief Tom Ikimi, former Chief of Staff to President Goodluck Jonathan, Mike Ogiadomhe and former minister of works Mike Onolememen. Also in the list were media magnate and political strategist Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Senator Yisa Braimoh, Senator Victor Oyofo and former leader of the house of representatives Tunde Akogun.
Incidentally, the names on the list represents the indispensable brain-box of the PDP, not just in Edo state but nationally. High Chief Tom Ikimi for instance was the engine room of the Action Congress, which later metamophorsed into the Action Congress of Nigeria that, against all odds, ensured the defeat of the ruling PDP in the 2007 Governorship Election and later secured court victory in 2008, a feat repeated in 2012. Remarkably, all of these were achieved without the control of the Government at the centre and access to the forces of state power.
High Chief Tom Ikimi was also a frontline thinker and mobilizer that crystalized into the All Progressives Congress (APC), his magic wand distinctly instrumental to the APC eventually ousting the ruling PDP at the centre, and several other states in 2015. Before leaving the PDP to help found the Action Congress, High Chief Ikimi was pivotal to the PDP and the re-election of Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003.
Following disagreements over the leadership of the APC, he returned to the PDP four years ago, a homecoming that was certainly an invaluable asset to the PDP political armory. With such depth of political dexterity and experience, High Chief Ikimi along with other dogged PDP elders in the state hold the key to galvanizing the party to political glory. But first, they have to deal with the threat within. The so-called ‘Edo PDP Integrity Group’ which is clearly a front for the uninspiring Chief Dan Orbih-led State Executive. For twelve years since he held-sway, Chief Orbih has been unable to significantly change the fortunes of the party in the state, failing in 2008, 2012 and 2016. If the PDP is to be taken seriously, it cannot afford to approach the 2020 election with the same lackluster EXCO.
This is the dilemma confronting the opposition in Edo State. The internal wrangling has already begun as the EXCO whose tenure expired in September 2019 hangs on desperately. In order to prepare the stable and properly re-strategize, elder statesmen of the party held a leadership stakeholders meeting in Abuja in August 2019, with High Chief Ikimi as the host. In attendance at the meeting were former Governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, Senator Victor Oyofo, Senator Yisa Braimoh, Rt. Honourable Tunde Akogun, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and former works minister Mike Onolememen. In the meeting were also two serving senators, Senator Clifford Ordia and Senator Matthew Urhoghide.
The resolutions at the end of the meeting, included fostering collective leadership and responsibilities in the party in Edo state; foster reconciliation among aggrieved members in the state and strengthening other organs of the party, as well as engage the state EXCO of the party with a view to returning it to winning ways.
These leadership meetings formed the basis for a joint meeting between the leadership stakeholders and the state chairman and state working committee hosted by Chief Lucky Igbinedion in Benin City. The meeting resolved to send a delegation to the National Chairman and NWC to mutually work out modalities for smooth and early congress.
Consequently, on the 23rd of october 2019, a 17-member delegation of the PDP from Edo state led by Chief Lucky Igbinedion, High Chief Ikimi and Chief Raymond Dokpesi met with the National Chairman Uche Secondus and members of the NWC to discuss a winning roadmap for 2020 Governorship elections and the looming expiration of the tenure of the state chairman of the party and working committee.
Other members at the meeting were Dr. Mike Onolememen, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Senator Matthew Urhoghide and Senator Clifford Ordia. Also in attendance were Senator Victor Oyofo, Senator Yisa Braimoh, Tunde Akogun, Elder Austin Agbonmeirele and Oni Edigin, as well as the deputy national woman leader Hadiza Umoru.
Present also were members of the state EXCO, led by Deputy State Chairman Emmanuel Ogbomo, state PDP Youth Leader Thaddeus Irabor, state woman leader Tes Sorae and state secretary Felix Imoisili.
At the end of the meeting, the national chairman assured the delegation that no caretaker committee will be set up for Edo State PDP and that the NWC will communicate on the timelines for the congresses and ensure they are free and fair.
The elders of the party from Edo state have shown leadership in quick thinking and foresight, an initiative the national body of the party should fully support. It should also be quick to condemn internecine interest tending to be a clog in the wheels. It is gratifying to note the immediate condemnation of the Jarrett Tenebe group by leaders of the party in all the local government councils of the state. Their warning is most timely. Allowing agents of chaos with no political capital or capacity to deliver any fortune for the party, to insult the elders and critical stakeholders of the party is a joke taken too far.
However subtle it may seem, such internal provocations must be swiftly nipped in the bud. The party cannot be scoring own goals or continue in its pattern of self inflicted injuries. The national leadership of the PDP must openly applaud the elders of the party in Edo state for noble steps taken to help provide direction and guidance for the party.
It is unconscionable and grossly immoral that some of the elders have been purportedly suspended to the exclusion of the collective, including the leader of the delegation Chief Lucky Igbinedion, Senator Clifford ordia, Senator Matthew Urhoghide and the members of the state working committee listed earlier who were all present at the meeting with the national chairman and the national working committee. The PDP national leadership must be seen to have learnt from its past or forever be condemned to its inevitable consequences.
With the APC house on fire and tethering towards an implosion, the PDP cannot afford to light itself up as well. This is not a time to play russian roulette. The implications will be self ruinous!
Ude is a political activist and strong member of the PDP in Edo state