The countdown is on as the September 10 2016 date given by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for Edo people to elect a successor to the outgoing Governor Adams Oshiomhole draws near. In this two part analysis VICTOR OSEHOBO of our Benin examines the chances of the over 15 aspirants.
Of all the registered political parties in the country, only two, namely; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressives Congress, APC, appear to be serious about contending to pick a flag-bearer that will sell their manifesto to Edo people ahead of the polls. In the PDP, the most visible gubernatorial aspirants are businessman, Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri, party officer, Osaro Onaiwu, party faithful Matthew Iduoriyekemwen and preacher, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
In this first of a two part series on the chances of the army of gubernatorial aspirants for Edo 2016, suffice an x-ray of these PDP aspirants, beginning with Chief Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri. A businessman with international honours, Edebiri made waves, having funded the Peoples Patriotic Alliance, PPA single-handedly. He began his political career in Edo as gubernatorial aspirant of the PPA before it merged with the ANPP and coming third in the 2012 governorship election. He was in ANPP when it merged with other parties to form the APC and then he left to join the PDP.
Edebiri is from Igiogbe in Isi ward of Uhunwonde local government area of Edo state. He is Member of the Order of the Niger, MON, a Justice of the Peace and a self-made businessman with interests in the oil services sector of the Nigerian economy. He has never held any public office except serving in a committee set up by the Presidency to fashion a way forward for the Petroleum Training Institute, PTI.
He created the Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri Centre for Change and popularized the acronym RITA – Responsibility, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability as the hallmark of good governance in either the public or private sector.
Edebiri once said that the best thing people can enjoy from a very good government is to become an income generating state not just through VAT. He said, “We seem to be limiting our IGR to VAT, taxing people; market women, taxi drivers and hotel owners etc. The best way to generate income for the state is to make it an export, manufacturing state, a production state”.
“If Edo State becomes the largest producer of rice in West Africa, is there something wrong with it? It is simple mathematics. If I ship out ten millions of bags of rice every month and I tax each bag N500, do you know how much billions of naira that will amount to every month and do I need to tax anybody?” he said.
Edebiri has promised that if he gets the PDP flag and wins the September polls, he will introduce in the state an agro-system based on one local government one crop system. ”If we can endow them with one commercial crop, for instance, cassava in Uhunwonde, timber in Ovia North-East, groundnut in Akoko-Edo etc, and we now harvest and commercialize it, bringing in the factories, we are producing and selling outside, then Edo State will be industrialized and become a tourism destination,” he stated.
The word on the street however is that outside his success in business, Edebiri lacks the political clout to muster his new party, PDP’s delegates support to pick the gubernatorial ticket. If a primary is conducted today, he may come in second place.
Not much is known about Mr. Osaro Onaiwu outside the many political positions he has held first as Special Assistant on Special Duties to Dr. S.O Ogbemudia, former Governor of Bendel State, Special Adviser on Political & Public Affairs to former Vice-president, Late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, and Coordinator, Nigeria Governor’s Forum, Special Adviser on Governors and Government to former PDP National Chairman.
Today he is still the coordinator of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum. A pioneer PDP member, Osaro is a party loyalist, who has never jumped ship. He said he is in the gubernatorial race owing to overwhelming calls from a broad segment of Edo people, arguing that he would be denying the people of his services and expertise if he turned down the clarion call.
He has on his many campaign trips to party members across the state said that, his being part of the governorship race was done out of “deliberate consultation across board”. He prides himself with experience, having worked closely with most governors, “I have garnered the requisite experience to run a state like Edo with its multi-ethnic but closely related groups”.
He is of the view that he is the governor Edo needs since he is a capable hand to pilot the affairs of the state, as a man who can combine, “organizational sagacity with realism”- a man with impressive pedigrees who could never be swayed by normative ethnic manoeuvres.
Onaiwu says if he becomes a governor, he will restore running water in taps and work to stop power outages. He also believes that what he calls the agonizing gridlock in most parts of Benin City, resulting from washouts, potholes that could force an expectant mother into involuntary abortion can be reversed under his tenure as governor.
He believes that the crisis Edo is facing today is none other than, “a culmination of decades of poor planning, mismanagement and insufficient investment in capital projects or infrastructures by a government in the past eight years, which prioritizes the enrichment of apologists and sycophants to the detriment of our well-being”.
Onaiwu is of the view that, in a federation, Edo State under a competent leader can grow at its own pace by supplementing federal allocation to the state with internally generated revenue to provide service infrastructure for its people”.
Osaro is seen by many in his party as one who lacks the political sagacity to govern a complex state as Edo. Being an adviser for so long and not displaying any other trace of individual achievement, he looks set to be the last on the list of four aspirants contesting for the PDP flag.
Mr. Matthew Aigbuhuenze Iduoriyekemwen is a pioneer member of the PDP and has never decamped from the party. Born on the 2nd of May 1966, he hails from Amagba in Oredo local government area of Edo state. He represented Ikpoba-Okha in the Edo State House of Assembly, EDHA, between May 29, 1999 and May 29, 2007, during which he served as Chairman, House Committee on State Security, and Majority Leader of the House.
Iduoriyekemwen was Edo State Co-ordinator, Yar’dua/Jonathan Campaign Organization, 2005 for Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area. He also served as the Edo State Representative on the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, during the period. A businessman, he is the Chairman/CEO, Samatt Globe Limited. He says he has been part of government since 1999 and so, knows the basic responsibilities of government, which he believes, “is to be able to do things, the things that will ensure basic satisfaction to the people and generate happiness in the people”.
On why he wants to succeed Oshiomhole as governor, he argues that, “I think there has been no deliberate effort of government to create an economic policy geared towards eliminating poverty and strengthening infrastructure”.
Iduoriyekemwen is angry that for decade, Edo people have been groaning in pain for development and transformation in every facet to no avail. “Edo state is a state that is in clear need of an economic foundation which will lead to engagement of the unemployed in our state and lead to the development of entrepreneurial skills.
It is not certain if many in the PDP would see Iduoriyekemwen’s reluctance to jump ship as an added advantag. He has access to the power base of the party in the state and has been a member of the inner caucus for a long time. He deserves the party ticket for loyalty and faithfulness, if these are qualities to pick a flag-bearer or win a contest with a ruling party.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and was a former Chief of Staff and Secretary to Edo State Government. He was a member of the PDP before leaving to join the Action Congress of Nigeria, A C N. He served as the National Vice Chairman, South-South Zone, and two times Director-general of Adams Oshiomhole’s Campaign Organization, in 2007 and 2012, before he fell out with the governor.
When he returned to the PDP, he became Coordinator of Goodluck/Sambo Re-election Campaign Organisation. He was recently honoured by the Benson Idahosa University with an honorary doctorate degree in Public Administration. Born in Benin City on the 21 June 1962, to late Chief R.O. Ize-Iyamu (Esogban of Benin) and late Mrs Magdalene Ize-Iyamu nee Obasohan, he is from Iguododo, in the oil and gas rich Orhionmwon local government area of Edo State, Nigeria.
He says, “I am the most qualified to succeed Oshiomhole”, because having lived in Edo state all his life, he is interested in better governance. He says he has the goodwill from every part of the state, ward or local government with personal friends and argues that he cannot see “my state being misled and mismanaged and be indifferent. It is natural and patriotic to have an ambition under such circumstance”.
He is of the view that mismanagement of the state’s commonwealth should be reversed. “I see the past seven years as years of plenty. In the past seven years, Edo State received unprecedented revenue. This present government has received over a N1 trillion. No government has ever got that. I served in the Lucky Igbinedion government. For the eight years that he was there, if you add all the money that came from the 18 local governments, it was N196 billion. So, for a government that has received over N1 trillion, you will have expected that their investment will guarantee the future of our state”.
On his confidence, he argues that, “I have gone round the local government areas to see our party members and I can say that many of them see me as a very serious minded person, who knows what it takes to win and has an understanding of government”. I want to believe that that confidence and knowledge will help me clinch the party’s ticket. If it is not me, then I will support whoever comes in but certainly not the person the present government is proposing because nothing will change if they are allowed to continue.
He says that, “I think it is desirable that those who aspire for an office, should not be those who were drafted in, had no plan and were not prepared for the office. It should not be a situation, whereby someone felt he could use them and conscript them into the race. Political offices are very challenging. Anyone aspiring to occupy political office must show proof that he is prepared for it”.
Ize-Iyamu left PDP for the APC, in anger and came back to the party he was maligned and is now seeking to fly its flag as governorship candidate. He is more experienced politically for the high office having served in the earlier mentioned capacities. As a party that forgives, it is certain that PDP will not count Ize-Iyamu’s sins at this time when it needs a most credible flag-bearer to onseat APC in Edo.