The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is reportedly having a tough time trying to get Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to emerge unopposed during its primary slated for tomorrow.
ThisDay reports that despite sustained pressure on other contenders for the party’s governorship ticket for the September election, they had refused to budge.
The three governorship aspirants, Gideon Ikhine, Ogbeide-Ihama and Mr Kenneth Imasuagbon, have so far rebuffed pressures from leaders of the party for them to step down for Obaseki who formally defected to the party last Friday along with his deputy, Hon. Philip Shuaibu.
The PDP had screened and cleared the trio for the primary which was supposed to have been concluded by the weekend.
But Obaseki’s defection has turned out to be a game changer, prompting the party to delay the primary by three days.
Ahead of the Tuesday’s primary, Obaseki met with Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Hon. Aminu Tambawul and the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, in Port Harcourt to strategise on how to get him the ticket.
It was gathered that a meeting held Saturday night between key leaders of the PDP and the three governorship aspirants ended in a deadlock.
This followed the refusal of Imasuagbon and Ogbeide-Ihama to yield to the pressure being mounted by party leaders and other groups for them to step down for Obaseki.
In furtherance of the bid to persuade the trio to step them for Obaseki, some governors of PDP-controlled states, led by Okowa, and the party’s National Assembly lawmakers arrived in Benin City yesterday, to join forces with the state chapter of the party to persuade the three governorship aspirants, including Ikhine, to step down in the overall interest of the party.
But Imasuagbon remains adamant, stressing that stepping down will jeopardise his 16 years’ dream and financial commitment to the governorship project.
“I cannot step down for Obaseki; he should be the one to step down for me. I am not going to step down for anybody. We have concluded ward and local government congress before Obaseki came.
“Action by those calling for a stepdown must be condemned by all; it is wicked and undemocratic. The military can’t do this; we don’t have democracy in Nigeria, what we have is autocracy. There is no morality in all this. He (Obaseki) can’t push my dream of 16 years away. Thank God for the position of Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare 11 who said he needs peace to prevail and that there should be no godfatherism,” he added.
However, when contacted, Ogbeide-Ihama said he was in a meeting and not disposed to making any comment.
On his part, Ikhine said he had resolved to make his position known today.
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party has approved the nomination of Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, as the chairman of the primary committee.
Other members of the committee are the Governor of Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde; the Zamfara State Governor, Mr. Bello Mattawale and Senator Uche Ekwunife.
According to a statement by the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akubundu, Hon. Solomon Bulus Maren is expected to serve as the secretary of the committee.