Is Edo PDP Divided against Itself?

As the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State sets to commence campaigns ahead of the September 21, 2024 election, its governorship candidate, Dr. Asue Ighodalo, is receiving threats, not from the opposition political parties, but from renegade members of his party, Chuks Okocha writes

With the inauguration of a 363-member campaign council for the September 21, 2024 governorship election in Edo State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is set to battle not only renegade members of the party but the opposition parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP), for the governorship seat.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Godwin Obaseki mocked the Legacy Group, headed by the party’s Vice Chairman, South-South, Dan Orbih, expressing confidence that the governorship candidate of the PDP, Dr. Asue Ighodalo, would win with 80 per cent of the votes. 

Obaseki hit back at Orbih’s camp, describing the faction as disorganised and a sheep without a shepherd.

 He noted that the party has the best candidate and programmes for the people of Edo, saying: “The timetable is out; can you see any of them (Legacy Group)? Can they organise themselves? PDP leads, others follow.”

The governor, while alleging that the factional PDP members fighting in the party have collected money from opposition parties to destabilise the party in the state, however, warned such persons to stay away.

He said: “PDP is one. Those who are fighting the PDP have collected money from the other parties, and they want to sell out. I want you all here to join me so that we can flush them out of our party because we are not going to allow anybody to divide us; we are one party – one indivisible party in Edo State.

“The money they have collected is enough; let them go and enjoy it; let them go and spend it outside. We don’t have anything to fear. I will fight them if they try us; we will fight them if they try us. They know us; we never fight and lose; let them come and try. They have collected money; let them stay outside with their money, and not disturb us, because this election is ours and we are going to win by the grace of God.”

He explained that the structure of the campaign council was rooted in all the 192 wards and 18 local government areas across the state, adding that every organ of the party was captured.

Since after the primary where he emerged victorious as the candidate of the party, Ighodalo’s popularity has continued to grow in lips and bounds with many personalities and groups endorsing his candidacy.

Known for his expertise and pedigree in corporate law, finance, and investment banking, Ighodalo is a boardroom titan. 

His work and boardroom experience clearly show that when given the opportunity to govern the state, he won’t be a liability to the state, but would be focused on how to bring his global and national connections to help boost activities in the state and add value to the commonwealth of the people.

The PDP candidate is the co-founder of Banwo & Ighodalo, one of the foremost corporate and commercial law firms in Nigeria, with 15 partners and over 100 lawyers.

 He obtained his first degree in Economics from the University of Ibadan, a law degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and was admitted into the Nigerian Bar in July 1985. His core areas of practice are corporate and project finance, securities and capital markets, energy & natural resources, and mergers & acquisitions.

Ighodalo is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (past Chairman of the Section on Business Law 2014-2016), International Bar Association (Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law Section (SEERIL)), Association of International Petroleum Negotiators, Institute of Directors Nigeria, Commercial Law and Taxation Committee of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria. Until he ventured into politics, Ighodalo was the Chairman, Board of Directors of Sterling Bank Plc, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Levene Energy Group Limited, Edo State Investment Summit, DO II Designs Limited and Global Mix Limited.

He also sat on the boards of Mainstreet Technologies Limited (ownership company of MainOne Cable Limited), Cardinal Stone Partners, Okomu Oil Palm Plc, Christopher Kolade Foundation, Boff&Co. Insurance Brokers, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (NGO focused on the development of healthcare practitioners) and Kashim Ibrahim Foundation, Kaduna (NGO focused on the leadership development of Nigerian youths).

He is the immediate past Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and he also served on the board of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) from May 2017 to 2021 and was Chairman of Dangote Flour Mills Plc.

However, despite these robust accomplishments and attainments, including the overwhelming support and endorsements, Ighodalo has continued to face opposition, not from the opposition political parties but from renegade members of his parties.

 This is due to what many described as the dirty politics that has characterised the PDP in the state and other selfish considerations.

For instance, Orbih; former Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu; former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Kabiru Adjoto; and their followers in Etsako have declared that they would work against the party.

THISDAY gathered that their intention is to move round the three senatorial districts where they would declare their reservations on the way Governor Obaseki treated them after they helped him to realise his second term ambition in 2020 and the need not to vote for Ighodalo.

Orbih, who was appointed as a member of the campaign council, specifically rejected his membership and vowed to work against Obaseki and Ighodalo, insisting that the PDP governorship candidate cannot lead the state.

Orbih said: “Let me send a powerful message to PDP, we the Edo PDP can tell you that it is not well with Edo PDP. I hereby denounce my membership as a member of the PDP Edo campaign council. Obaseki and his chosen candidate were not the way forward.”

Orbih also condemned the impeachment of Shaibu and said that the Legacy Group was behind him.

On his part, Shaibu said the people of the state cannot vote for a candidate who does not know their problems and challenges, adding that Ighodalo is an outsider and not a homegrown person.

Similarly, Adjoto said PDP under the leadership of Obaseki could not manage the success of its victory in 2020. He added that instead of consolidating on the victory recorded in the 2020 election by rewarding those who worked for his re-election, Obaseki opted for others in the party who did not work for the party.

Many indigenes of the state are wondering at what point the national leadership of the party would call particularly Orbih to order. They further wondered if they would allow him to play the same anti-party role like he did with his ally and former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike when they made the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, lose the 2023 presidential election.

This is why the Deputy National Youth Leader of the party, Timothy Osadolo, is calling for the suspension of the members of the Legacy Group and Shaibu.

Osadolo said the declaration by Orbih and his group to work against the party on September 21 is tantamount to anti-party activities for which they should be sanctioned.

For now, the people of the state are eagerly looking forward to seeing how the Legacy Group plans to stop Ighodalo from winning the poll come September 21.

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