Following his disqualification by the All Progressives Congress, 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, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.
The screening committee of the party, 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.
In the report received by the National Chairman of the party, Mr Adams 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.
Obaseki and Oshiomhole had been at loggerheads over the governor’s reelection bid.
Sequel to the disqualification, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has declared the party’s doors open for the governor. It was, however, not clear if the governor would get automatic ticket in the party if he decides to run on its platform.
Authoritative sources close to the leadership of the party however said the governor might be considering joining the PDP given that it is the only party that has the structure both in the state and at the national level.
The source said, “We will not send him away if he wants to join us. We will welcome him like every other defector if he wants to take refuge under our umbrella. That is what I can tell you.”
Asked if the governor could still be accommodated in the party’s primary slated for June 23 and 24 in the state, the source declined to give a definite answer.
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.
One of our correspondents gathered that 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.
Meanwhile, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, told one of our correspondents 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.