Following his disqualification by the All Progressives Congress (APC), there are indications that the embattled Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, may consider running on the platform of another political party to realise his second-term ambition.
The screening committee of APC, headed by Prof Jonathan Ayuba, while presenting the committee’s report to the party’s National Working Committee, said the governor was disqualified from participating in the party’s June 22 primary because of the discrepancies in his names and certificates and for taking the party to court in contravention of the party’s rules.
There were however unconfirmed reports that Obaseki has joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It was gathered that the embattled governor had collected his PDP membership card at Ward 4, Oredo Local Government.
It was also gathered that the governor would be moving into the PDP with all the 18 Local Government Chairmen in Edo State as well as 12 lawmakers in the State Assembly.
The PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said in a telephone interview that the PDP was big enough to accommodate anyone who showed interest to be part of it.
He said the party was not going to deny the governor membership of the PDP if he decided to join it.
He added, “He is a sitting governor who ought not to be treated that way. If he contested four years ago and was allowed to fly the flag of the party, what has changed between then and now?
“For now, we are not against anyone who wants to join us. Our doors are open and if he decides to join us as an individual, we will welcome him. That’s the only thing I can say for now.”
Asked if the governor could be considered to be the party’s governorship candidate, Secondus said he was not competent to speak on such an issue, but stressed he was confident the party would win the governorship election.
“The PDP ticket is not won on the pages of newspapers. Our members decide who will be their governors or representatives,” he added.
Citing the outcome of the 2019 governorship election, Secondus said the outcome of the 2019 presidential election was an indication that the state belongs to the PDP.
“Remember that in that election, the PDP had 275,691 votes representing 49.17 per cent of the total votes while the APC got 267,842 votes. That just represents 47.77 per cent of the votes,” Secondus added.
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan said the party would readily accept Obaseki if he desired to join the party.
He told one of our correspondents, “We are open to anyone, including Obaseki, The party is open to him and anyone who wants to join. Mind you, it is not all the members of the party who are interested in contesting election. Therefore, membership does not mean interest. We will welcome Obaseki with open hands, just the way we do for other.”
It was, however, not clear if the governor would get automatic ticket in the party if he decided to run on its platform.
The PDP had screened its governorship aspirants via a committee, headed by a member of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chida. Other members of the committee were Oladimeji Fabiyi; Sen. Joy Emordi; Aishat Hasindu and Boyele Debekeme.
The three aspirants who were screened were Gideon Ikhine, Ogbeide Ihama and Kenneth Imansuangbon.
While the first two aspirants were physically screened, Imansuangbon was screened virtually.
The PDP could replicate in Edo State the consideration it gave Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in 2019 when the APC denied him its ticket to contest for a second term.
Ortom, who was then having a running battle with his political godfather, Senator George Akume, was received by the PDP when the former governor allegedly used his connection with the national leadership of the APC to deny Ortom the party’s ticket.
Obaseki and the National Chairman of the party, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, had been at loggerheads over the governor’s re-election bid.
In the report received by Oshiomhole, Ayuba noted that Obaseki claimed to have obtained a Higher School Certificate from the Institute of Continuing Education in Benin but that he did not produce the certificate and that the document he produced only attested to his attendance.
He said further that the governor’s National Youth Service Corps certificate reads ‘Obasek Godwin’ and that while this could be an error on the part of NYSC, the governor never took any step “to correct the anomaly.”
Obaseki and two other aspirants, Chris Ogiemwonyi and Mathew Iduoriyekenwen, were disqualified from participating in the party primary ahead of the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Those cleared to take part in the primary were Mr Osaro Obaze, Dr Pius Odubu and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. – Additional report from Punch.