PDP Unending Puzzles And Mission To Ondo
In Edo State all actions and permutations dwell on or about September 10, 2016. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have chosen the ‘David and Goliath’ electoral showdown.
Those on the ringside appear to be directing the show. The outgrowing Comrade Governor hardly transacts government business these days without situating the criticality of the forthcoming governorship election in the state. Governor Oshiomhole has succeeded in taking centre stage in the electioneering.
Recently the governor took to the podium to lambast the arrow bearer of PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. And when the former PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman, Chief tony Anenih, added his voice to the impending showdown, it was to complain about Oshiomhole’s antics to sideline his clan from the political scheme of Edo State. But state chairman of the party, Dan Orbih, raised an alarm about how Oshiomhole was planning to rig the September 10 poll out of desperation.
From the opening remarks by the major combatants therefore, it would be easy to project that the situation in Edo could degenerate into either something inconclusive or violent. That may be taking the narrative too far. But the verbal warfare seems to be taking the shine away from the crucial issues. If Edo slides into violence, it would mean that nothing has changed in the state. But the side that would not augur well with the state is any recourse to violence. Orbih had indicated that “any attempt to subvert the election will be resisted”, noting that since President Muhammadu Buhari has never intervened in any election before, the Edo poll should not be an exception.
From the tone and temperament of Edo PDP chairman’s speech, the imagery of physical exchange was conjured. Orbih said: “Nobody can use INEC, Police, Army or EFCC to rig the PDP out; I want to tell Oshiomhole that Edo people are prepared to behave the way the civilian population in Turkey behaved when the soldiers marched against them. We will resist any attempt to subvert the will of Edo people; we stand on a very solid ground knowing full well that Oshiomhole has failed Edo people.”
It could well be that PDP want to join the outgoing governor in his art of hyperbole and embroidered threats. But either to frighten or play to the gallery, the danger is that such verbal darts could inspire overzealous supporters to translate them with physical interpretation.
Instead of focusing what constitute the challenges facing the state and possible ways to solve them or explaining achievements recorded and the need to sustain or upscale them, both parties find good occasion to use trigger words.
While the outgoing governor tries to mimick Donald Trump by resorting to name-calling, his rivals do not seem to show lack of grasp of gutter vocabulary. “Do you want to hand over Edo treasury to a thief? I am a proud Kukuruku man, not the son of a cook, but we don’t take money for Police, money meant for soldiers, money meant for Defence to secure Christians in Churches, Pastors are collecting it and sharing it to their party members…When I see them now appealing to power for level-playing field I wonder. I thought they would decree that there is no vacancy. Things have changed and things will continue to change.”
Unintentionally Governor Oshiomhole spoke the truth about the coming Edo governorship poll, because “things will continue to change.” The ruling party in the state travelled down to Lagos State to recruit the governor to aid in the onslaught against its rival. But what is obvious that quite unlike what the situation used to be in the immediate past, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is yet to post a spectacular result that could be used as a reference point in marketing Godwin Obaseki.
It all boils down to the possibility that the Lagos is being drafted to shore up the enormous financial outlay needed to prosecute Edo 2016. President has so far shown that his preoccupation is to justify the mandate given to him by Nigerians rather than giving vent to political adventurism of seeking new lands to conquer. No doubt, the Comrade governor knows that for a fact. The Edo State PDP chairman reminded the governor and APC in the state how it has become a nationally recognised notion that President Buhari has little interest in the politics of winning election by hook, jackboot and crook.
The concern therefore how Governor Oshiomhole and APC would take a possible change of outcome on September 10. Would the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) throw in spanner in the works assuming the unthinkable happens by invoking the inconclusive clause?
On each side of the divide in Edo, there is palpable desperation. The outgoing governor is not prepared to lose the election, because that would mean opening his flanks for great political, emotional and reputation damage. And from the allegations of marginalization levelled against him by the former BoT chairman, Anenih, PDP wants to prove that making Oshiomhole governor in 2007 was a mistake imposed on them by internal division. Does Anenih’s observation mean that the party is closing ranks to stop the former labour leader from becoming the new godfather?
But political consideration apart, the outgoing governor situated the desperation of PDP thus: “Do you know why he wants to be a governor, Mr Ize-Iyamu wants to be a governor to get immunity to protect him from prosecution.” His call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) “to do its job”, suggests that the incumbent wants to return his candidate unopposed. But perhaps noticing the perceived incitement, Orbih decided to impress it on the governor that “nobody can use INEC, Police, Army or EFCC to rig the PDP out.”
On his part Anenih wanted Edo people give their scorecards to Oshiomhole and APC by pointing out how projects and social amenities were distributed across the state in the past eight years. The elder statesman explained that Governor Oshiomhole was partial in his distribution of government’s goodies, stressing that the governors purposefully sidelined the Esan nation in a deliberate ploy to “obliterate” them politically.
Speaking at the PDP governorship rally in Uromi, Anenih had narrated how the outgoing governor refused to pay the state’s counterpart share in a N1.2b water project meant for Ugbalo, stressing that was why there was no water for Esan people. It is therefore understandable why Oshiomhole is doing all in his power to ensure a positive change for APC in the September 10 governorship poll. The Edo showdown would mark the real beginning of voter power in Nigeria’s democracy. The power of incumbency is yet again up for a serious test. Edo has returned to 2007 and the re-examination would show whether the people are really moved by their interests or malleable to federal considerations.
PDP Unending Puzzles And Mission To Ondo
At least the quietness from the corner of the rival governorship candidate of the Sheriff Camp in Edo speaks volumes about the possibility of quick resolution of the PDP wrangling. The Ahmed Makarfi caretaker committee has fixed August 22, 2016 for the governorship primary in Ondo State. Coming barely weeks to the proposed repeat convention of the party, the Ondo governorship primary would either cement or exacerbate the PDP puzzle. A prominent member of Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s cabinet, Eyitayo Jegede, has in response to the time line for the governorship resigned his appointment. The resignation of the former Attorney General and commissioner of Justice, feeds speculations that he might after all be the anointed ‘David’.
Governor Mimiko in his characteristic manner had been quiet about his succession plan. Atleast after going through several electoral battles against giants in the sunshine state, the outgoing governor knows that noise making reduces one’s options. He has kept his cards to his chest.
But the month of Augusts turns the corner, his august choice will become public knowledge and only then could the real discussion begin. Being the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum carries a lot of responsibilities. Part of it is to demonstrate that a new thinking and approach to internal discipline have found a place in PDP.
How his preferred candidates wades through the governorship primary would more than the personal qualities of the candidate reveal the essential political profile of the Iroko. Should the party witness an uproarious governorship primary or a disputed outcome that could be the beginning of sorrows for Dr. Mimiko. His ability at clinical diagnosis as a doctor would be tested against his negotiating and crisis management skills as a politician.
What would however be at play is how far PDP has amended its internal cracks and the one pertaining to the national leadership. All eyes, particularly those of the opposition would be on Mimiko and his every move. Would he take a back seat after the candidate emerges or lead the electioneering from the front? What could be his considerations for settling for the particular favoured candidate? Ondo will be interesting, especially as other political parties get set to field candidates for the election that provides an even wrestle ground.
On the flipside, the wise decision by the Makarfi committee of zoning to the position of the national chairman of PDP to Southwest is a plus to Mimiko. Iroko was said to have spoken his mind quietly about the propriety of zoning both the presidential and national chairmanship to the North.
Having acceded to this quest for the Southwest to produce the party’s national chairman for the first time, could it be that Mimiko also have a preferred candidate for the post? If the attempt by some party stalwarts to zero in on the 2015 governorship candidate of the party in Lagos, Jimi Agbaje, bears fruit, how would Mimiko and Ekiti Governor, Ayo Fayose handle that gentle man?
Can the Southwest play as a team to throw up a compromise candidate without recriminations? Whose voices would count as the convention draws near? On top of these puzzles, which presidential candidate from the North would the Southwest caucus settle for? What is the capacity of the probable national chairmanship candidate to bring back defectors from convoluted simmering APC?
The caretaker committee seems to have predicated its choice of members of the zoning committee on the need to achieve balance and all inclusiveness. Speaking while inaugurating the 89-member committee, Senator Makarfi noted that it was “senseless for the party to zone both the presidency and chairmanship to the same region.” In August when PDP holds its national convention to choose new leaders, the party may miss Makarfi. It was as if the best was reserved for the last. The former Kaduna State governor in his remarks showed the direction of sanity and healing for the party, when he said: ”In party politics all sections should have a fair representation; that was why the entire zoning arrangement was jettisoned. “Open the political landscape so that all the materials that we have from the south will come out so that we get the best from the pack.”
Makarfi’s healthful words was reechoed by the chairman of the zoning committee, Governor David Umahi, who spoke through his deputy, Mr. Kelechi Igwe: “The mistake and missteps of those who have found their place in other political platforms made the PDP wobble to failure in 2015 elections.’’ Perhaps from its puzzles PDP seems to be taking some bold steps in the right direction of internal democracy and absence of impunity.