By Akugbe Amenze
With Governor Godwin Obaseki defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, his quest for a second term in office as governor of Edo state looks more difficult than ever.
Mr Obaseki had defected to the PDP following his disqualification by the APC’s Edo state governorship screening committee, an issue first raised by the Edo PDP.
The governor was disqualified over discrepancies in his educational certificates. He claimed to have an AL certificate with which he gained admission into the university, but when asked to produce the certificate, he couldn’t.
Then, he couldn’t explain the error in his name even as he claims to have had the NYSC discharge certificate in his possession since 1980! Then, the affidavit which he deposed to claiming to have lost his certificates is disowned by the same court where he allegedly swore to the affidavit.
These are weighty discrepancies enough to warn a political party from taking chances with such an aspirant.
Also, Kenneth Imasuagbon, one of the three candidates of the PDP originally cleared to contest for the party’s governorship ticket in the now postponed primary, abruptly cut short a meeting convened to intimidate him into dropping his ambition for the defecting Godwin Obaseki today at Protea Hotel in Benin City.
Kenneth reportedly stormed out of the meeting, threatening to sue the party for its blatant violation of established rules and provisions in the attempt to compel a ‘consensus candidate’ through the imposition of Godwin Obaseki.
Another aspirant, Ogbeide Ihama, in a campaign video released by his team, insisted that he is proceeding with his ambition, and will not succumb to pressure to step down for Obaseki. A visibly appalled Ihama recalled his 13 years in the PDP and declared to his spectators that “it is not our portion” to step down for a newbie, throwing jibes to the embattled Godwin Obaseki.
The spiralling crisis in the party is caused primarily by Obaseki’s refusal to participate in any form of a contest for the ticket but instead relying on ‘godfathers’ in the PDP to bully the other aspirants into a surrender.
This behaviour, similar to what he displayed in the APC that eventually contributed to his ouster, is said to be driven by his lack of popularity – a situation worse in the PDP, a party where he has no corresponding influence against the popularity of the likes of Kenneth Imasuagbon and Ogbeide Ihama. Hence his resort to intimidation through godfathers and desperation to achieve a forced consensus arrangement against the wishes of the aspirants involved.
Meanwhile, the revered Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, in a recent Palace Press Release signed by Frank Irabor, the Secretary of the Benin Traditional Council condemned the “twin evil political vices of Godfatherism and consensus arrangement’.
“Let everybody take note that the Palace is very wary of the imposition of candidates whom only certain individuals want but the majority of the people do not want. ‘Ghana Must Go’ politics should end in the State. Politicians should stop cashing in on the poor masses and exploiting them for their votes.”
“We believe all qualified aspirants to any elective office should be given a level playing field for democracy to develop to the next level in Nigeria,” the Palace said.
* Akugbe Amenze is a Benin based social commentator