The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State at its stakeholders meeting on Tuesday declared it willingness to accept the defection of Governor Godwin Obaseki from the All Progressives congress (APC) to its fold.
With this statement credited to the State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Obih, the door seems open to Obaseki towards getting re-election ticket for the 2020 governorship election in the state should the APC force him out by denying him the ticket. This is coming in the storm of prolonged conflicts between Obaseki and his predecessor and national chairman of the ruling APC Adams Oshiomhole, who has vowed to unseat Obaseki after his first tenure in office.
Meanwhile, even though Obaseki is yet to make any statement of a possible defection from the ruling APC, speculations have been strong in Edo State that the opposition PDP could be the governor’s target of alternative platform to abandon the APC for Oshiomhole.
National Daily gathered that the Edo PDP stakeholders at the meeting unanimously agreed to accept Governor Obaseki in the party if he decides to defect from the APC. The party leaders, however, did not resolve giving him automatic ticket for the governorship election; but the possibility that Obaseki will win the governorship ticket in the PDP primary election is high.
The PDP State Publicity Secretary in Edo, Chris Osa Nehikhare, in a statement sent toNational Daily, narrated that the Edo PDP held stakeholders meeting on Tuesday at the residence of the party’s leader, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin Kingdom. He indicated that the meeting was convened by the State Chairman, Chief Dan Osi Orbih, and was attended by party leaders from the 18 local government areas, including members of the State Executive.
Chief Dan Orbih in his opening address acknowledged the protracted crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly, as well as the crisis ravaging the APC in the state, which was attributed to the power tussle between the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, nad Governor Godwin Obaseki over the APC governorship ticket for 2020 election.
The State PDP Chairman noted the affects the crisis will have on Edo State politics and the PDP.
Chief Dan Orbih acknowledged the insinuations that Governor Obaseki may defect to PDP. Chris Osa Nehikhare indicated that on the rumors concerning Governor Obaseki, the State PDP Chairman said: “One issue that keeps coming up in the build up to next year Guber election is whether Obaseki is coming to join us? My answer is I don’t know. Will you receive him if he wants to join us? My answer is yes; our party membership is open to all Nigerians who want to join.”
He maintained that on the issue of automatic ticket, the State Chairman declared: “Are we going to give automatic ticket to him? There is no provision in our party constitution that guarantees automatic ticket for anyone contesting Guber ticket. Our Governorship candidate will be chosen in compliance with the provisions of our party constitution.”
Chief Orbih subsequently confirmed that over five PDP members have already indicated interest to contest for the governorship ticket of the party; adding: “and I implored them to go about their campaigns in an orderly, civilized and matured manner.”
Chief Orbih, thereafter, notified the PDP stakeholders that his tenure would elapse on March 14, 2020, and he would be stepping down as the PDP State Chairman in Edo. He proposed that congress will be held to fill the positions at the end of the tenure of the present executive from wards to state level. “Those who have served out their constitutional two terms will leave and we shall elect new officers to replace them. Just like the Governorship, we already have many people campaigning for various positions,” he said.
The State Chairman also admonished: “We must guide against rumours and things that can divide us;” adding: “I want to commend the officials of our party at various levels for their good work. For the leaders of our party, I salute you for your unqualified support for the party…”
apparently, the Edo PDP has provided lifeline for Governor Obaseki to seek re-election on the party’s platform in the 2020 governorship poll in the state if Oshiomhole remains adamant in dethroning him from office after the first tenure. PDP has proved to be strong if not stronger than APC in Edo State during the 2019 general elections. Thus, Obaseki has strong insurance premium to seek re-election in the state on the alternative platform of PDP.