EDO 2012: FIRST SHOTS

By NBF News
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His Royal Highness (HRH), the Okagiesan   of Esan Land, Alhaji William Momodu 11 kicked off the 2012 governorship campaign for Governor Adams Oshiomhole three weeks ago. Recieving a delegation of top shots of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in his palace he declared that there was no vacancy in Osadebey Avenue, come 2012. The royal father spoke passionately about how the Comrade Governor had transformed the state in so short a time describing him as the 'god of Esan land'.

The ACN delegation led by a national leader of the party, Chief Tom Ikimi paid was in his palace to congratulate him on his 40th anniversary on the throne as the Enogie of Irrua. Indeed confirming the flag-off of the 2012 gubernatorial campaign are stickers pasted in most Edo State government vehicles that read 'Governor Adams Oshiomhole for 2012, ACN'.

Noting the way and manner the Governor has transformed the state in the past two years, the royal father during that visit affirmed that it would be abnormal for the people of the state to 'think of electing someone else'.

'Let us have confidence on Oshiomhole and if he does anything wrong let us correct him. Oshiomhole has no challenger for 2012, he is the god of Esanland, he will be returned unopposed and we will all support him'. HRH Momodu, however urged the leaders of the ACN to purge the party of traitors which led to the party losing the senatorial election in the area to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), admonishing further that 'we should not fight our selves. Let us develop Esan land no matter the party we belong'.

The traditional ruler's unambiguous endorsement of Oshiomhole is against the background of the fact that heis territory covers part of the region that was once regarded as the exclusive political playground of the former Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih.

A week after the endorsemnt,  June 28, 2011 nearly all traditional rulers from Edo North senatorial district where Oshiomhole hails from, stormed the palace of the Benin monarch, Oba Erediauwa to affirm their endorsement of the governor for a second term. The revered Benin monarch had himself not hidden his appreciation of Oshiomhole given the face lift the state has received since the inception of his administration.

Indeed during one of the occasions when the Governor took the ACN candidates who won elections into various offices to pay a thank you visit to the Oba, the monarch had requested the candidates to also support the Governor in his own election due to his good works.

For the many enraptured citizens of Edo State the only time that they had witnessed such physical development in recent times was only during the reign of Prof. Osarhiemen Osunbor. But the little progress made by the Osunbor PDP administration was eclipsed by the crisis that engulfed the party  during his governorship.

So when some months after he took office in November 2008 that Oshiomhole rolled out bulldozers in the three senatorial districts of the state, he became a messiah to the citizenry.

While proceeding with the infrastructure development of the state Oshiomhole was at the same time pulling down the once overwhelming political empire built by the leader, Chief Anenih.

So it was not totally surprising that Oshiomhole led the ACN to victory in the just concluded general election winning 19 of the 24 seats in the House of Assembly, two of the three senatorial seats and losing only two House of Representative seats to the PDP in Anenih's domain. Even the modest victory Anenih picked in his home sparked some controversy as a good number of Oshiomhole's political appointees from the region were sacked for their failure to deliver their region.

His success nonetheless, it now seems that Oshiomhole's second term bid may not be a blanket cheque. Apart from the opposition PDP who are considering formidable aspirants from Edo South, the Governor may even face  unexpected difficulties in his own ACN which is presently factionalised into two with one led by the deputy Governor of the state, Dr Pius Odubu and the other led by the National Vice-Chairman of the party, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

The deputy governor has, however, denied the factionalisation affirming at separate times that he is a brother to Ize-Iyamu. But any observer of the politics of the state knows that the claim may only be hollow. While the governor does not belong to either of the groups he is also careful in his dealings with the two groups. The former Chief whip of the senate, Senator Rowland Owie led the Odubu group before he dumped the party for the PDP.

Given the fracture in the state ACN Oshiomhole is now faced with the difficulty of picking a running mate for his next shot in 2012. His options include the incumbent, Odubu, Ize-Iyamu or the present Political Adviser to the Governor, Mr. Charles Idahosa.

Again the Governor may not want to make a tactical error knowing well that the PDP has settled for a Bini candidate. The fear would be that if he slips the Bini electorate could do him in.

And if the rumour that Captain Osa Okunbor, is being recruited by Chief Anenih and the presidency to join the race is true, then Oshiomhole will have a bigger huddle to climb. Captain Osa is one of the major financiers of the ACN and he is from the Bini speaking area. Vanguard learnt that the Edo born billionaire may run either on the platform of the ACN or the PDP.

It was reliably informed that the discussion whether he will run or not is being discussed at the presidency. Apart from him, a retiring General in the Army (names withheld) is also in the race under the PDP. However, no matter who runs against Oshiomhole, either in his ACN or PDP, the Governor has an edge for now due to his performance.

Apart from that the recent crisis in the state PDP over the choice of Arch.Mike Onolemenmen as Minister has led to the decamping of some key members of the party to the ACN.

Indeed, the first cracker from Edo 2012 are already resonating.