WHY EDO PDP MUST NOT FAIL AGAIN
Though I am not a politician, but I know that it was as a result of the war of supremacy between the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Tony Anenih with other stakeholders of the party in the state.
Obasanjo acting in consonance with his dictatorial tendencies imposed Prof. Osarehiemen Osunbor on the party as the governorship candidate against the wishes and support of majority of the party members in the state, including Anenih who is the leader of the party in the state.
That was why the major stakeholders and other members of the party in the state turned their backs against Osunbor and his godfather (Obasanjo) during and after the election in protest of the imposition.
Obasanjo and INEC's magic wand during the election only provided temporary victory for Osunbor that could not last as he was removed from office by the Appeal Court. That was how the state was lost out to the opposition for the first time since 1999.
The question ahead next year's governorship election in the state is, will the PDP make the same mistake again or chart a new course by allowing an open and transparent primaries this time, especially as the likes of Osunbor and Prof. Julius Ihovhere, who have been in the cooler for so long, are now grandstanding and jostling for the party governorship ticket.
Well, the best option for the party is to allow for open, transparent and fair primaries where people should be allowed to make their choice from the array of aspirants in the party.
Apart from Osunbor and Ihovhere who appear to be drawing their strength and support from a former president who has no stake in the politics of the state for now, there are other aspirants in the party with the requisite track record like Kenneth Imansuagbon.
Though, it might appear that the former president seems to be respected or influential in the corridors of power, especially in the Presidency, but he should not be allowed to repeat the same damage or mistake of 2007 in the state.
For the peoples support and in the interest of democracy and fairness, the Presidency and the PDP national leadership may do well to avoid engaging in any political subterfuge with the intention of imposing any candidate on the party in the state.
Attempting such automatically means giving away victory to the ruling ACN before the election proper. The echo of such imposition is already being felt in the party in Kogi State ahead of the December governorship poll, as it was alleged that the outgoing governor, Mr Ibrahim Idris imposed his brother-in-law, Captain Idris Wada on the party as its candidate. As it is now, the day is pregnant for PDP in the state unless a miracle happens before the December election.
So for Edo PDP, it is an issue of once bitten, twice shy. There is no justification for the party to fall prey to the mistakes of 2007 this time around. After all, with the array of pretenders and contenders, Mr Imansuangbon being the youngest and most acceptable and most committed among them, I believe the party will allow common sense to prevail.
I have watched and followed with keen interest Imansuangbon's footprints of doggedness and determination since our undergraduate days at the University of Ife now, Obafemi Awolowo University of Ile-Ife, Osun State. Imansuangbon was an exceptional student in the Law Faculty then despite his humble and poor background.
It was his penchant for diligence and adventures that spurred him to greater heights today and many of us who knew him well were not surprised. While most of us rushed for whitecollar jobs after graduation, Imanusuagbon went into legal practice.
We thought he was suffering and wasting his time, but he endured and explored other opportunities. Today, he seems to be the best entrepreneur in the country having achieved a lot in private business without aligning or depending on government patronage like many others.
Unlike most entrepreneurs in Third World countries of which Nigeria is one, Imansuangbon has extended his magnanimity to the grassroot by empowering many Nigerians, especially the less-privileged.
Today not less than 1500 Nigerians are working in his private establishments across the country. A proof that he is an achiever of our time and source of encouragement to most of us that one can achieve a lot from nothing with sheer determination, courage and vision in the face of daunting challenges in our society.
No wonder majority of the people on the streets of Edo State are already clamouring for his candidature for the PDP ahead of the governorship election next year.
Their argument and basis for the clarion call for his candidature has been that if he could achieve a lot without depending on government patronage and had the mind to use his wealth to touch lives positively, it is enough signal that he is a leader the people cannot afford to miss now and with him in the saddle of leadership in the state, there will certainly be light at the end of the tunnel.
With these feelings among majority of the people in the state, PDP in Edo State has no other option than to provide a level playing ground for free and fair primaries where Imansuangbon's popularity and antecedents will surely manifest and translate into result for a better Edo State with a future full of promises for the people.
The voice of the people should be allowed to prevail because it is the voice of God which no power can suppress . All eyes are on the Presidency, the national and state leadership of the party to see if they can falter again or get it right this time around in Edo State.
Dr. Micheal Onhiwbere, public affairs analyst, wrote from University of Benin, Edo State.