Internal wrangling and fate of PDP in Edo

By Jethro Ibileke
The 21 September governorship election in Edo State is fast approaching,  like God’s judgment day, it is being awaited with bated breath. It is a crucial election to the major political parties featuring candidates. The major parties are: the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Labour Party, LP.
Just as the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led PDP wants to consolidate on its grip to power, the APC vows to wrest the state from the PDP and align it with the party at the centre, while the LP hopes to reenact its sterling performance during last year’s presidential and part of the National Assembly elections when it defeated the PDP and APC in the state.
Political pundits are of the opinion that the PDP has more lose than any other party.
Over the years, the PDP has wallowed and is still wallowing in malignant factionalisation crisis. On one side is the faction controlled by the state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who enjoys the loyalty of the sSate Chairman of the party, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi and a number of the state exco members, while the other faction is controlled by the Legacy Group, headed by the now expelled National Vice chairman (south-south) of the party, Chief Dan Orbih. The State Secretary of the party, Hilary Otsu is loyal to this formidable group.
The problem began not long after Obaseki joined the party from the APC in 2020. An  insider who volunteered information to this medium, said: “Obaseki literally bought his way into the party. He paid the highest price in monetary terms, and so, he decided to exercise absolute control over the party structure that had existed over the years. Of course, this did not go down well with the Legacy Group faction who see themselves as the aborigines of PDP”.
Indeed, the no-nonsense Obaseki would not have anyone dictate or suggest to him who to appoint or anoint as he is bent on having his way. To worsen the matter, Obaseki sidelined them in most of his appointments. For example, prior to the 2020 gubernatorial election, the Legacy Group had insisted on appointing one of their members as deputy to Obaseki, but, he would not have that as he insisted on his erstwhile deputy, Philip Shaibu. The same went for other cabinet members. Of course, this did not go down well with members of the Legacy Group who felt slighted and relegated to the background.
The source quoted above said: “That was when the group decided to teach Obaseki the lesson of his life. They literally plotted his downfall thenceforth”.
A notable incident that underscored the fact that  the Legacy Group could not be ignored occurred during last year’s National Assembly election when Obaseki insisted that the then senator representing Edo Central, Clifford Ordia must get a third term ticket, against the desire  of the Esan people for rotational candidacy. The  Group decided to support the candidate of the opposition APC, against their own PDP.  That was how the incumbent senator representing the zone, Monday Okpebholo won the election without stress. Okpebholo is also the governorship candidate of the APC in the coming governorship election.
But Obaseki is ostensibly unmoved by the weight of the Legacy Group though Dan Orbih and those in his camp have not ceased to warn that the governor’s actions would attract consequences.
On Saturday, 27 April, the Edo North chapter of the party also gave a ‘yellow card’ to Obaseki and his preferred candidate for the election, Asue Ighodalo. At a meeting of the Group at his country home in Ogbona, Etsako Central, few months ago, Orbih declared that PDP’s candidate, Asue Ighodalo was not a fitting candidate for  the party and could not make a good leader for Edo. He did not mince words when he announced that the Legacy Group faction of the party would vote for any candidate who would represent the good people of the state.
They also demanded that he dropped Engr Godwins Omobayo, whom he appointed deputy governor after the impeachment of Philip Shaibu.
Few weeks earlier, members of the Group in Edo South complained bitterly about how Governor Godwin Obaseki abandoned them after they helped him to secure his re-election. They did not only call Obaseki an ungrateful person, but went ahead to give him an ultimatum to meet with them and tell them what he has for them ahead of the crucial gubernatorial election, or…!
As if that was not bad enough, the state working committee of the PDP on Wednesday, 19 June announced the expulsion of Dan Orbih, Phillip Shaibu and Omorgie Ogbeide-Ihama from the party allegedly over anti party activities. Both Orbih and Ogbeide-Ihama are top members of the Legacy Group, the formidable opposition to Obaseki within the PDP, the impeached former deputy governor has aligned himself with.
The party’s State Publicity Secretary, Ogie Vasco, in a statement said the decision was taken at a meeting attended by nine members of the State Working Committee at the party secretariat in Benin City. “The SWC has extensively deliberated on the issue and resolved to expell with immediate effect, Chief Dan Orbih, National Vice Chairman South South, Rt Hon Phillip Shaibubu and upheld the expulsion of Hon Ogbeide-Ihama from Ward 2, Oredo LGA,” he had said.
The alleged anti party activities might not be unconnected with penultimate week’s donation of governorship campaign secretariats and other facilities made by Philip Shaibu and Ogbeide-Ihama to the governorship candidate of the APC, Senator Monday Okpebholo, while Chief Dan Orbih’s name appeared on the list of board members recently appointed by President Bola Tinubu. Orbih, was appointed the Chairman of the Governing Council of Federal College of Education, (Technical), Umunze, Anambra State.
The pertinent questions at this juncture are: What are the possibilities of consequences of the expulsion of the trio for the PDP ahead of the 21 September governorship election?  How grave could the consequences be?  What could APC  stand to benefit from the expulsion?
Close watchers of political events in the state are of the opinion that Governor Godwin and the PDP’s actions in recent times amount to shooting one’s self in the foot, more so with the crucial election in view. Members of the party are also aware of the looming dangers.
The Legacy Group has vowed to reenact what they did during last year’s national assembly election, during which they openly supported candidates of the APC in the Edo Central, a development that eventually resulted in PDP incurring huge losses.
Although the embattled former Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu alone might not constitute a formidable threat in his Edo north enclave, knowing that he has hardly won his ward against his kinsman, Adams Oshiomhole, yet he also has some following. He has also declared:  “We will not vote for an outsider in Edo State. Edo State needs a home-grown person. It therefore would be foolhardy to go into the governorship election without recourse to what they can do”.
The Edo Central District Chairman of the party, Bishop Anthony Okosun, had  In January this year warned that without unity in the party the PDP would not do well.
Okosun said: “Our labour shall not be in vain, so that at the end of the day, we don’t labour for the APC or Labour Party to enjoy. We did it in Edo Central and we lost the senatorial seat. We lost the national assembly seat. Today, the ants are drinking the milk.
“As I said in Abuja, if the governor’s faction goes to heaven to bring Angel Michael, without the other faction, he will contest and fail. If Dan Orbih’s faction goes to heaven to bring Angel Michael, he will contest the election and fail. But if the two of them join together and go to hell and bring the devil, they will contest election and win.”
It is that bad!
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