25 September 2018

Nigeria: Edo Politicians Eyeing Running Mate

Adibe Emenyonu takes a look at some political actors from the nation's heartbeat that have aligned themselves to presidential prospects

There is no gain saying that politics is all about personal interest, and the fact that 2019 has taken the centre stage to the extent that all discussions at every fora is about who win presidential election.

Though there are many political parties jostling for various elective positions, only a handful of them will have presidential candidates.

As is customary, whenever there are southern aspirants, running mates usually come from the North. This accounts for why most of presidential aspirants who are not southerners are shopping for southern running mates to balance the political equation.

For the All Progressives Clngress (APC) already, President Muhammadu Buhari is the likely the sole candidate while his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will be his running mate except something unexpected happens.

In the Peoples's Democratic Party (PDP), an array of aspirants have emerged in the persons of former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso, former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubarka, incumbent Governor of Gombe State, Dr. Hassan Dankambo, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and a host others.

From available statistics, since Buhari's running mate will be the present VP Osinbajo, his Northern counterparts in the PDP according to THISDAY checks are gunning for a running mate from the South.

Against this backdrop therefore, prominent politicians from the Southsouth especially Edo have positioned themselves to clinch the post because in their thinking, none of the Northen presidential aspirants would search for a deputy in the Southwest since Osinbajo is from there.

A source close to the Atiku Campaign Organisation hinted that the Turaki Adamawa is already considering someone from the Southeast as running mate should the party give him the ticket to run. But if that fails, his plan B is to draft in somebody from the old Mid-west.

The source who preferred not to be named, listed those highly favoured as Sir Peter Okocha (Delta State), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu (Edo State) from the Midwest bloc, and Senator Ben Obi (Anambra State).

Although the source stated that Senator Obi is much favoured, he said Okocha was in contention because of his closeness to Atiku as a business associate. "Okocha is former Chairman of African Petroleum (AP), now Forte Oil where Atiku has substantial shares before its liquidation by Obasanjo for political reasons. Ize-Iyamu is an astute politician with enviable track record of achieving results. That was why when Atiku visited Edo, it was at the residence of Pastor he and his entourage were entertained as a form of recognition ," he said, adding however that the former SSG to former Governor Lucky Igbinedion may crash out at the end in order for his interest not to clash with his former boss who is also eyeing the running mate role.

The Redeemed Pastor is not the only politician with appetite to become a running mate. His former boss and former governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion (1999 -2007), has also developed the same interest . The heir apparent to the Igbinedion dynasty who since he left office has not been seen at any PDP gathering, is now seen everywhere with the Kwankwansiyya campaign, the political machinery of Rabiu Kwankwanso.

Not hiding his interest in any way, the former Edo governor housed the presidential aspirant from Kano till the following day before he departed for Delta State. Although the junior Igbinedion did not make a formal statement. One of his political associates gave him out as the one who sponsored Kwankwanso's trip to Edo "because he is being penciled down as the running mate", one of them confided in THISDAY.

Next on the line of would be running mate is Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, for Deputy Governor of Edo State (1999 - 2007), former Principal Private Secretary and Chief of Staff to former President Goodluck Jonathan. Oghiadomhe like his master, rarely shows up at his party (PDP) gatherings of any kind. But his sudden appearance when the Governor of Gombe State, Dr. Hassan Dankwambo came to Edo to solicit for votes from the state delegates ahead of the party presidential primary election gave him away like a rabbit seen running in the afternoon.

The former number two citizen of Edo did not hide his enthusiasm while the presentation lasted. He was virtually at every nook and cranny of the hall, dishing out orders, acknowledging greetings both real and imaginary and to cap it all, took Dankwambo and his campaign team to his private residence for a launch before the latter departed for another state in continuation of seeing party delegates.

Even the PDP state chairman, Chief Dan Orbih is allegedly nursing the same running mate ambition as those close to him said he has sympathy for the presidential aspiration of former Kaduna State Governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Orbih"s interest points towards Makarfi. His admiration for the former Karina governor may be due to the way and manner he steered the PDP ship out of trouble waters.

Based on this premise, there is already palpable fear that the delegates from Edo will not speak in one voice when it matters most as to to which particular aspirant is more qualified to be elected as party flagbearer.

The answer to this is not far off since a good number of their leaders have already taken a position because of their personal interests rather than group interest. Should this happen, some of the aspirants will suffer terribly.

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