Edo PDP Governorship Agenda: Just to set the records straight, By Tony Okonigene

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The drifting, rudderless Edo PDP and its 2020 governorship missteps pose serious concerns for well-meaning members, hence the decision to call it quits, writes Tony Okorigene

I have received several inquiries through phone calls and personal visits as to why I decided to resign from the PDP, a party that I have laboured to keep afloat in Edo state over the years in the wilderness. The surprise is that I stood firm with the party in opposition and decided to take a walk when the party has been gifted with power in the state.

Before I progress, let me pay glowing tribute to my principal, Engr Gideon Ikhine FNSE. This is a man who singlehandedly with the help of his Edo Restoration 2020 team, brought the PDP in Edo State from the dead to life. For 58 weeks , against the hostilities of the PDP establishment from Edo to Rivers down to Abuja, Engr Gideon Ikhine and his Restoration team, traversed the whole 192 wards in the 18 Local Government Areas in the state to wake up the party members with his message of hope. It is no hidden fact that for Engr Gideon Ikhine, most members of the party including the National Assembly members, would have left because of the impunity and injustices perpetuated by Chief Dan Orbih and his cohorts during the state Congresses.

Yet for no just cause but selfish reasons, some of these leaders fought night and day to frustrate his ambition.

The high point was the selling of the party to the APC faction led by Governor Godwin Obaseki when they saw that Engr Gideon Ikhine was set to win the primary. For them, anyone can get the ticket but not Gideon Ikhine.

With all the blackmail by the leaders of the party after collecting huge amount of money from the governor ( which prompted Governor Wike to refer to them as tax collectors), Engr Gideon Ikhine stepped down without collecting nor demanding a dime. His only demand from the governor was a promise that he would handover to the Edo Central Senatorial District after his tenure. He even handed over his #500m campaign headquarters to the governor.

I have asked the leaders of the PDP severally ; What is the pact agreed with the governor, safe guarding the members of the PDP who have stood firm in the wilderness years, before trading off the governorship and deputy governorship tickets? Nobody has been able to give any answer. The reasons are not far fetched. There was obviously non.

While the National Assembly members were concerned about the governor securing their third tenure bids, the party leaders had their eyes set on the money the governor brought. They had no time to think of the political security of their followers. The PDP leadership was so divided along personal ambitions that they went to negotiate with the governor individually and not collectively as a party. Thus the welfare and political security of the faithful PDP members were relegated to the background.

Personally, I had the opportunity to continue winning and dinning at the top based on my position and relationship with the powers that be. My principal Engr Gideon Ikhine is currently the Co-DG of the Edo State PDP campaign team. That places me in a vantage position as his spokesman. I have had a 40 minutes personal audience with His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki on his invitation to discuss the way forward. There is virtually no top leader in the party that I cannot relate with but what of the teeming PDP faithful who have stood with the party?. As at today, not even the state chairman can tell how the campaigns will be executed. The party has been sold to people who do not believe in the ideals and manifesto of the PDP but rather see it as a vehicle to hold onto power at all cost. Our leaders are overwhelmed with the euphoria of entering government house after a long time and the expected state funds.

One of my driving motives in the PDP was that I saw it as the quickest road to realizing the Esan Agenda. This was practically within our grasp but was scuttled by leaders who put forward their personal ambitions before the collective progress of the Esan project.

Now that two candidates have emerged from Edo South, we are faced with the inevitable to choose between waiting for 8 years or 12 years to realize the Esan Agenda. I will in due course explain more on this.

The treatment meted out to the delegates by the APC members was as a result of the blank cheque given to them by our leaders. The delegates were put in pairs in hotel rooms in this COVID 19 pandemic period even when we were reliably informed that money was made available for one person per room. There was no arrangement for feeding. After much protests, they came to start sharing N1,500, N2000, N3000 as the case maybe. No explanation was given. The expectations of the delegates were short changed round. The next day delegates from Edo Central were ejected from their rooms and forced to risk their lives to go back to Ishan late.

All through these ordeals, our PDP leaders did not bother to come and check on how the delegates were coping. No one has deemed it fit to apologise or explain what happened. No meeting has been called to explain to the people the terms negotiated with the governor. As a member of the state exco, I cannot tell where we are going. Not even the state chairman nor any leader of our party can say what the next step is.

We are all waiting for strangers to lead the way. It is as if the PDP never had members nor structure in Edo state.

I have considered and reflected on the events and current status of the PDP. I am one person who discharges his responsibilities to party passionately. My spirit does not align with the PDP as currently constituted. I cannot in all honesty come out to campaign for a man I campaigned against in the last election.

I wish the PDP in Edo state the very best. It is time for me to take a bow and I believe that the ovation is loudest at this time.

I wish to thank the leaders and members who have stood by me throughout. Space will not permit me to start mentioning individuals.

God bless us all.

•TONY OKONIGENE,
Former Edo PDP State Executive Member,
was spokesperson, Edo Restoration, 2020.
July 3 2020

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