As political activities heighten across the country ahead of the 2015 general election, the battleline is already drawn between the ruling party in Edo State, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the control of the state. But nowhere is this battle more virulent than in Edo South Senatorial District, writes AGENE AKHERE in Benin.
Though it is not yet clear if the incumbent senator in Edo South, Senator Ehigie Uzamere, really wants to return to the Senate, the information making the rounds in the state is that he may be weighing the options of taking a shot at the governorship seat. At present, though there are several aspirants who have indicated interest in the seat, some have shown more seriousness than others. Those considered by analysts as serious contenders with record of personal achievements and who are eager to take Uzamere’s job on the side of PDP include Mr. Matthew Urghoghide, who recently resigned as Publicity Secretary of PDP in Edo State, Mr. Victor Edos Ebomoyi and Barr. Ehioge West-Idahosa. On the APC side are the incumbent Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Mr. Samson Osagie, Businessman Erhabor Emokpae and the Chief of Staff to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Patrick Obahiagbon aka Igodomigodo .
On the PDP side, Urhoghide, a pharmacist, is said to be highly favoured by both the party leadership and sympathizers as very qualified for the top job. Urhoghide lost out in the primaries when he was in the defunct ACN to the present Senator Uzamere. He has since left the ACN, now APC, for the PDP. He enjoys the sympathy of many who believe that he deserves the ticket as a result of what happened when he was in the APC and that he should be compensated. Urhoghide has reached out to all the stakeholders in the state and they are said to be rooting for his aspiration.
Ebomoyi, popularly called ‘Edos’ by his admirers, is one person who has been in the PDP since inception in1998. He is seen as a core loyalist of the party who has been part of the evolutionary process within the party in Edo State. He is considered as former Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe’s ‘boy.’ His candidature is said to be resting on Oghiadomhe’s influence in the state. How far he goes in the race depends how influential Oghiadhome remains within PDP circles.
Hon.Ehioge West Idahosa, a three-time House of Representatives member, was initially a member of the PDP. But he now seems so inconsistent having dumped the party for APC and recently dumped the APC for the PDP again. And this movement may not have boosted his chances. The PDP leadership, sources say, is determined not to gamble with its chances in the state this time round by giving its tickets to new comers to avoid the sort of crisis, experienced in APC. Besides, West-Idahosa some say does not enjoy the confidence of PDP leadership in the state as he is seen by the party’s stakeholders as inconsistent.
Though he may face an herculean task, in the final analysis, Urhoghide stands a better chance to emerge as PDP senatorial candidate in Edo South.
In the APC, Hon. Samson Osagie stands head and shoulder above other aspirants considering his legislative background. But he has businessman Erhabor Emokpae and Ogodomigodo to contend with. Obahiagbon aka Ogodomigodo, a former House of Representatives member who was also earlier in the state House of Assembly is said to be in serious contention as he enjoys the support of Governor Oshiomhole in the race.
Osagie, WESTERN POST gathered, intensified his campaigns immediately after Senator Uzamere left the APC for PDP and on hearing Emokpae has also shown interest in the race to run for the Senate. Not living anything to chances, Osagie, though having a wider outreach, enjoys the sympathy of many cut across the party hierarchy because of his outspokenness. Osagie, who is at present the Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, enjoys the full support of members of the civil societies, market women, some professional bodies, representatives of political parties from the seven local government areas making up the senatorial district. Having represented Uhumwode Constituency at the Edo State House of Assembly on PDP platform between 1999-2007 and having spent close to eight years in the House of Representatives as member representing Uhumwode/Orhionmwon Federal Constituency on APC platform is perceived as having more legislative experience than any other aspirant in the race.
Erhabor Emokpae is seen by many as a ‘green horn’ in Edo politics but he is no doubt very well connected with the grassroots. Emokpae who has over two decades experience working in the private sector has consistently been at home with his people. The advertising guru said, “ensuring the empowerment of the people of the district through a robust legislation in wealth creation through federal presence,” however added that “a man has not really lived until he makes life better for his people”. This philosophy has further endeared him to the people in his senatorial district despite what his opponents called his late entry. To him, he is the man to beat. An independent survey conducted by a group, ‘Edo N mose’ shows a rising profile and big acceptance for Emokpae in the race. Visitors make a stop-over at his campaign office daily to enquire about his programmes for the senatorial district. For those who believe there is the need to have a change in representation of the district in Abuja, they consider Emokpae as the desired ‘new face of the senatorial district’ to bring the much-needed vibrant representation of the district. A self-acclaimed successful bossinessman in the advertising world among other interests, Emokpae now has wide support cutting across the grassroots and some in the party leadership. He may not have held any political office before but his rising profile is said to be intimidating and other aspirants are said to be worried by this.
Patrick Obahiagbon, who is respected within the APC for his continued loyalty to the party even after he lost out in the primaries of the party in 2011 to Rasaq Bello Osagie, has remained a strong pillar in the Oshiomhole administration.
He is at present the Chief of Staff to the governor. He is believed to be banking on the state governor to win the party’s nomination. The greatest challenge before this two-term state lawmaker who represented Oredo Constituency on the platform of PDP and one-term at the Federal House of Representatives is that he may have to contend with the general question as to what footprints he left behind while serving the constituency in Abuja. Not much is seen on ground to suggest that he is in serious contention.
The APC ticket remains a three-way race among Osagie, Emokpae and Obahiagbon.