ALLEGED underground moves by prominent chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) within and outside Edo State to pave the way for the emergence of Governor Godwin Obaseki as the party’s flag-bearer in this year’s governorship election in the state have sparked a fresh crisis in the troubled party.
Though the Governor and his close aides have continued to deny any plan to dump the All Progressives Congress (APC), feelers from the two leading political parties in the state suggest that contacts continue to be made and talks held.
The situation meanwhile is causing serious division in the PDP in the state.
Several stakeholders, including a serving governor in the South-south state and the chairman of the party in Edo State, Dan Orbih, among others, are reportedly poised for a showdown with the national leadership of the party following reports that the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) may have been convinced by the pro-Obaseki group within the party, to support his rumoured candidature on the platform of the PDP.
Reliable sources at the PDP said that some prominent chieftains of the party, including serving governors, senators, members of the Board of Trustees as well as former presidential aspirants, are working to ensure that the Edo state chapter of the party fields Obaseki, who is said to be considering switching to the PDP because of the lingering face-off between him and the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, before the primary elections of the two parties.
A source close to the PDP national secretariat confided in The Nation that the Edo State governor has demanded that for him to join the party, the PDP must commit itself to giving him the Edo guber candidate unopposed.
“He has made it clear that he will not be ready to face other PDP governorship aspirants at the primaries. That is what is delaying his open identification with the PDP as we speak,” the source said.
“Those canvassing for his candidature within the party are also of the opinion that as a seating governor, he is an immense asset to the party and stands the best chance to win the seat for the PDP once again in Edo State.
“So, he wants the party to hand him the ticket automatically if need be. Many of our leaders are already part of this plot. We have no fewer than two of our serving governors, many national assembly members and a good number of our Board of Trustee members aligning with Obaseki already.”
According to party sources, those working for Obaseki in the PDP may have succeeded in selling his candidature beyond the shores of the state.
“Within the state, I can tell you that most of our leaders are just waiting for him to declare before throwing their weight behind him. The Igbinedion political family in the state, for one, is solidly behind him. So are many other leaders. Senator Daisy Danjuma and the Tony Anenih camp will also go with him.
“Of course, you know that Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, who is one of our most respected governors, is in support of his candidacy. I can also tell you that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa too will go with him. Most chieftains of the Atiku camp see him as the best chance to defeat APC in Edo. Many NWC members are ready to push for his candidacy and with so much support even before joining the party, I know he will get the ticket when he does,” our source said.
The Nation also gathered that some other PDP chieftains across the country are not disposed to Obaseki flying the party’s flag.
A source said: “some frontline party leaders, including some governors, NWC members as well as BoT members, would prefer the party to field one of its committed members who have shown interest in the governorship ticket, other than dashing Obaseki the party’s platform to seek re-election.”