Chuks Okocha in Abuja
As part of the efforts to entice the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to defect from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the main opposition party has adopted a no-zoning policy in picking the party’s governorship candidate in the state.
The party has also resolved that the position of the state chairman would not be zoned as well.
A former governor of the state, Mr. Lucky Igbinedion disclosed the no-zoning arrangement to journalists yesterday in Abuja after the Edo State chapter of the PDP met with the national leadership of the party.
Igbinedion said that the idea behind a no-zoning system for the emergence of the governorship candidate and chairman of the PDP in the state is to throw up the best candidates for the two positions.
He however, did not give details of the new arrangement.
But THISDAY gathered that the no-zoning policy was merely part of the horse-trading ahead of the governorship elections in the state to entice and ensure a smooth landing for the incumbent governor to defect to PDP
A source privy to the meeting informed THISDAY that “the idea of a no-zoning for the emergence of the governorship candidate is to avoid any protest or backlash that Edo South Senatorial District is dominating the production of governors in the state. This is because Lucky Igbinedion had governed the state for eight years from 1999 to 2007.
“Also, Professor Osunbor from Edo Central was governor briefly before the tribunal unseated him and enthroned Adams Oshiomhole. He is from Edo North. Ordinarily, it ought to be the turn of the Central senatorial zone to produce the next governor,” the source explained.
THISDAY further gathered that this is the bait by the party to woo the incumbent governor of the state to join the PDP.
PDP at the meeting was said to have adopted the zero-zoning option for both the governorship candidate and the state chairman as one of the measures to present a united party ahead of the 2020 governorship election in the state.
The source told THISDAY said that the measure was to woo Obaseki to its fold, stating that the governor or any other person would prefer a united party before defecting.
“There would no need for him to come over to PDP and meet a brick wall of ‘it is our turn and other problems’. “Our meeting is to strengthen rough edges,” he said.
The meeting, which was held in a closed-door at the party’s alternate office in Maitama, was presided over by the National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus.
The meeting was said to have agreed that the party in Edo State must present a united party to be attractive to others that may wish to defect.
THISDAY gathered that it was in this backdrop that the Edo State PDP demanded to know when the tenure of the present office holders will end and how the party will go about the next congress either by a consensus or through elections.
It was also learnt that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party told the Edo PDP delegation that attended the meeting that words would be sent to it later on the tenure and other terms for congresses.
Confirming the meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan said, “they (Edo PDP) came to raise issues about the tenureship of their executive and the party said they would look into the details to know whether the tenure has elapsed or to know when the tenure will elapse.
“They were not complaining that the tenure had ended. They just wanted to know when the tenure will end and how soon they will have a congress because they want to go to the next election as a united party.
“The party has promised to look into the records. They want the party united before the 2020 election so that they can win”, the spokesman of PDP said. .
THISDAY laos gathered from insiders within PDP, that one of the terms to attract Obasike was to ensure a united party with defined tenure of office of the state party executives.
“The governor will not like a party where there would be in-fighting among members with his defection. So, the meeting is to spell out the terms and tenure of the present executive. This is to clear the coast with future engagements with those who wish to join the party in the state”.
Obaseki is in battle with the National Chairman of the All APC, Adams Oshiomhole over who gets the party governorship ticket in the 2020 governorship election in the state.
Obaseki had on last Wednesday said that he had no plans to leave the ruling APC.
The governor said this when he received members of the Godwin Obaseki Support Group (GOSG) during a courtesy visit at the Government House in Benin City.
“If a handful of individuals start misbehaving and feel we will leave the party for them; they will be the ones to leave,” Obaseki reportedly said.
Obaseki had described the APC as a party for the youths and the next generation, hence his administration was focused on infrastructural and institutional reforms that would stand the test of time.
“This is a government of real change, which is concerned about youths and the future. This government has performed beyond people’s expectations and we are proud of the things we have done so far.”