Why Obaseki, Ighodalo And PDP Are Likely To Lose Edo Election

Senator Monday Okpebholo


By Sebastine Ebhuomhan


During the Eid-el-Fitri celebrations, this independent reporter published a report that dwelt on how the three major political parties contesting the September 21st 2024 Edo State governorship election stand following the emergence of candidates in February. It was titled: How Edo Election Candidates and Parties Stand after Primaries.


The investigative analysed prospects and challenges of each party and candidate with facts. The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Senator Monday Okpebholo; the Labour Party (LP) and Barrister Olumide Osaigbovo Akpata; the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Dr. Asue Ighodalo.


Particularly, the report presented Ighodalo, a key member of the PDP-elected Governor Godwin Obaseki administration, as unlikely to win the election. Why? Ighodalo continues to deliberately dither and display poor understanding of critical socio-political issues in Edo State just as the grave ‘sins’ of Obaseki are clogging his progress wheel. Culturally, Obaseki and Ighodalo’s disrespect for the Ogidigan, Oba Ewuare II and the Benin Traditional Kingdom, which they seek to tear apart, is well-known. As this essay was being organised, another senior official of the administration, the Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Uyi Oduwa-Malaka was being stripped of her chieftaincy title of Uzoyare of Ozalla Kingdom for grave disrespects to the Onotare of Ozalla Kingdom.


A few issues the report highlighted include: Obaseki’s ingratitude to many helpers who suffered to put him in power in 2016 and 2020; Obaseki’s snubbing of Legacy Group (factionalised PDP’s largest caucus) for an LP election loser as replacement for the impeached deputy governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu; Obaseki’s all-round poor performance underlined by the huge loans he has taken to pay Edo workers’ salaries since 2016; and the huge debt for which Obaseki is planning to blindfold Edo people before hand over in November.


Instead of an introspection, Obaseki, Ighodalo and the PDP directed their paid minions to launch media attacks against this writer in poor rejoinders that critically failed to persuade readers. Two of such rejoinders abusively targeting the writer with veiled jibes at the strategic, hardworking, noiseless, leading candidate and likely winner, Okpebholo of the APC, attempted to debunk the report’s truthful claims, unsuccessfully.


One of the rejoinders titled: Edo Governorship: Why Ighodalo is Opposition’s Headache, was authored by the National Coordinator of Asue Ighodalo Vanguard, Jorome Omonogbe Tadefua. Another, Philanthropy: APC, Shadow-chasing Opposition, was written by one Omokagbon John.

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In Mr. Omokagbon’s seven-paragraph worthless piece, he urged APC to “mainstream their quest for issue-based campaigns” since they “have decided to be chasing issues of no relevance to the election.” In response to Ighodalo’s inaccessibility or infrequency for over seven years until Obaseki forced him to contest, a time Ewohimi people lived in total darkness until he suddenly began running around town as a candidate, stopping every six people for his coated speech, Omokagbon said no one should expect Ighodalo to tell the world what he has done for Esan and Edo people to justify his governorship aspiration.


Furthermore, Omokagbon said Ighodalo was not a tyrant as the former Chairman, Board of Directors, Sterling Bank. Is Omokagbon and other cretins masquerading as Obaseki/Ighodalo social media force aware, as I was anonymously informed, that Ighodalo and his board refused to open a single branch of Sterling Bank in the entire Edo Central or Esan Land because of their mercantilist belief that the bank would not make huge profit?


What is more relevant than the PDP candidate’s opportunistic aspiration? Ighodalo is a sweet-talking opportunist who does not love Edo people. He must not be allowed to rape Edo State as his godfather, Obaseki, is doing. What could be more issue-based than the huge debt of Edo State under the leadership of three investment bankers and lawyers: Obaseki, Ighodalo and Osarodion Ogie? Here is a quote from the report.


“With poor revenue growth, a high unemployment rate above national average, and the continuous unaccountable corrupt investment of public funds in private businesses, Edo State under investment bankers Obaseki, Ighodalo, and Ogie became one of the highest borrowers for payment of salary. Between December 2016 and December 2023, Edo State Domestic Debt increased from N45.091 billion to N123.879 billion. In the same period, Foreign Debt rose from USD$183.641 million to USD$314.448 million, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO). At the current exchange rate, Edo State total debt amounts to about N569,430,980,000 billion. These figures exclude the state’s USD$75 million World Bank loan for ‘school improvement’. They also exclude yet-to-be-disclosed term loans and overdrafts that Sterling and other banks allegedly extended to the administration; N11 billion agriculture loans etc. For example, Obaseki dubiously celebrates Edo Refinery and Petrochemical Company as his government’s property, happily announcing its crude allocation every time when official record indicates whole AIPCC Energy Limited ownership. The truth is: if Ighodalo wins this election, the Edo State economy will collapse from high interest rates and inflation in spite of the humongous allocations from subsidy removal.” Owing to bad loans, capital flight, maladministration etc, Edo people may need to demand a probe of the Obaseki administration after handover.

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For the sake of brevity, Tadefua’s lacklustre cobbling of abusive, inchoate, incoherent, uncoordinated, derailed, and rambling piece, shall have a point-to-point reply. He began his tragic piece quoting Edo PDP Deputy Chairman, Harrison Omagbon. Unfortunately, Omagbon’s voice cracked last week in the process of continuously denying what the media reported daily as: “Defection tsunami hits PDP.”


Tadefua mentioned “Ighodalo’s soaring influence and acceptance in the past four months” and likened it to “wild harmattan fire.” He disagreed that Ighodalo was inaccessible in Obaseki’s government. He derailed, instead, into Okpebholo not having the confidence to meet people.


The first question is: where was Ighodalo until four months ago? Another question is: where was Tadefua when Okpebholo toured Edo local governments for his Thank You three weeks ago? Okpebholo even received decamping PDP leaders in some places. Whether Okpabholo is a beneficiary of protest votes in 2023 or not as PDP erroneously claimed, Edo people now know that the nightmare the party was praying to avoid: contesting against a formidable APC combination of election winners and popular performers in Senator Monday Okpebholo, alias Akpakomiza and Honourable Dennis Idahosa, alias Denco, is finally starring the PDP! Unlike Ighodalo and Ogie, both of whom have never contested any election, Akpakomiza and Denco are no newcomers to winning tough elections. For a man who would discourteously jump over a table to sit on a chair, Ighodalo obtained PDP nomination thanks to Obaseki’s executive power that defeated Shaibu and others.


Indeed, Akpakomiza has not met all critical stakeholders of Edo State. He will meet them as he continues his strategic citizen engagement. He will also continue to harvest decamping PDP leaders and members that Obaseki has turned to strangers and slaves in the party they formed before he came. Afterall, a political campaign is usually built on a timetable of activities.


Furthermore, it is on record that Okpebholo is one of the few first timers who have sponsored a bill or more and moved motions on the floor of the upper chamber, apart from some returnees like Senators Opeyemi Bamidele and Orji Uzor Kalu. It shows Akpakomiza performing at both ends of the Senate and Esan Land, where he is acting as an alternative government.

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As for Obaseki’s choice of Mr. Omobayo Marvelous Godwins as deputy governor, a six months scam, the tragedy would be clearer to doubting Thomas like Tadefua after the election results have been declared. With the forthcoming decamping of ex-Edo Speaker and former Obaseki confidant, Right Honourable Kabiru Adjoto, who helped PDP to garner huge votes in 2020, but got kicked for aspiring to be running mate and later deputy governor, Edo North votes would be scarce for PDP in the people’s operation payback.


The report had also portrayed LP’s Akpata as unable to win. But Akpata took the report in good faith, reignited his campaign, and hit the ground running. He gave a rousing address to party leaders and members in Benin City. Thereafter, he commissioned a new ultra-modern clinic he gifted the Benin Club. On Friday, he went to the University of Benin, where he engaged the Senior Staff Club of the institution. At UNIBEN, Akpata criticised Obaseki’s single narrative masking agricultural pains of peasant farmers amidst the misapplication of funds under PDP administration before proffering his ideas. According to Akpata, an unnamed Edo government official recruited thugs to attack him and disrupt the event.


The LP concluded by announcing a permanent running mate to Akpata. The party picked Mr. Yusuf Asamah Kadiri, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) as its deputy governorship candidate to replace its placeholder, Princess Oluyinka Faith Alufohai.


Considering that a similar event held peacefully days earlier to receive Ighodalo before Akpata invitation, it can be deduced that the Obaseki faction’s endless cry for Akpakomiza to attend events might just be to fulfill the plan to unleash thugs on APC flag bearers. Edo APC must take note.


The wide support for Akpakomiza is simple: he is the best for Edo State in terms of love, respect, humility, accessibility, compassion, honesty, transparency, competence, capacity, character, pedigree, connection, vision, and passion. Akpakomiza is a leader. By the way, Nigerian Breweries Plc, another company Ighodalo chaired, is presently in distress, suffering huge losses, which forced it to increase the cost of beer twice recently. Ighodalo, Obaseki and PDP must be stopped to save Edo State from distress!


Sebastine EBHUOMHAN is an award-winning journalist and media consultant from Edo State, writing from Abuja. He can be reached on: usie007@yahoo.com or 08037204620.


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