By Osagie Otabor
The number of aspirants itching to succeed Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole is increasing by the day. Political parties under whose platforms various aspirants have indicated interest are the United Peoples Party (UPP), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the PDP, all the aspirants, except Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and the Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, Osaro Onaiwu, are well known serial contestants and heavy weights. This is, perhaps, the first time Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Osaro will be seeking elective office.
In other parties, there are aspirants regarded as political neophytes. The new faces are Don Pedro Obaseki, popular musician; Adviser Shedrack Nowamagbe, also known as the Masses Chairman; Chris Iyare, a pharmacist; Blessing Agbomhere; Adaze Andrew Emwanta, a lawyer; Austin Ilenre Emuan, an architect; Osaro Onaiwu and Chairman of the Edo State Economic Team, Godwin Obaseki.
Apart from Nowamagbe, who is contesting on the UPP platform, others are in the race on the APC and the PDP platform.
It is however yet to be understood how these neophytes in the APC hoped to battle gladiators like Deputy Governor, Dr. Pius Odubu, Commissioner Osarodion Ogie, Kenneth Imasuangbon and General Charles Airhiavbere.
Nowamagbe rose to prominence through his satirical music through which he aroused people’s consciousness on government policies. He is popularly known as the Masses Chairman and notorious for criticising government policies. This is his first time of participating in politics. He has decided to pitch tent with an unknown political party.
Nowamagbe has been able to put the UPP together by inaugurating state and local government executives across the state. National Chairman of the UPP Chief Chekwas Okorie, who was represented by Deputy National Chairman, Chief Ben Duru, at the unveiling of the party executives said the UPP would embarked on grassroots campaigns across the state.
He said the party does not have any skeleton in its cupboard like other parties and assured that rigorous campaigns would be undertaken by the party.
The party leader said: “The UPP is the only party that can bring about positive change you cannot find in the APC. Every local government area in the state will have UPP.
“We will give you all the support you need to succeed and by next year; Edo State will be ours.”
Nowamagbe told our reporter that he is not afraid of any political heavy weight in the race and vowed not to step down.
Iyare is the state Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN). He has opened his campaign office and has been rallying support from members of the APC. He is the Managing Director of Golden Berries Pharmacy Limited. He claimed to have started nursing the ambition to rule the state since 2012. In an earlier interview with reporters in Benin, the state capital, Iyare described himself as a resource generator and somebody that has the capacity to consolidate on Oshiomhole’s legacies.
His words: “The problem is that people running the government are not resource generators, but consumers. I know how to convert two naira to five naira. Politicians should not be jobless people. I am not a jobless person, for instance. I have a business and therefore not idle. I am contented with what I have. But, I’m not happy that the ordinary man on the street is not able to feed. I don’t need too much because I’m contented with what I have, but I am driven to make a difference in the lives of the people.
“In Edo State, we need to arrest the issue of youth unemployment. Employment will be created under sanitation service, law enforcement and agriculture. We will also concentrate on education, healthcare, infrastructural development and others.”
Osaro Agbonifo Obaseki, popularly called Don Pedro or Don P, is a playright, film maker and broadcaster. He is the former Managing Director of Daar Communications, owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT). He iscurrently the Chief Executive Officer of WAWOO TV, which is now the MTN mobile TV project.
Pedro said he joined the race because he has something to offer the people. He said the state needs someone who understand the landscape and a product of proper upbringing, proper education, proper etiquette. He believes that the same thing could not be done in the same old ways, if the people expects a better result.
He said: “Governance is the highest form of service and dedication to the people. If the good ones shy away from it, we will be sentencing our children to doom, even before they are born. When I look at the number of aspirants vying for the job, I am saddened by the lack of quality, capacity. They do not have what it takes to move Edo State to the next level.”
Austin Ilenre Emuan is yet to display his posters, but he has been campaigning on the pages of newspaper. His parents, Chief Omoarebu and Rose Emuan, who were strong members of the PDP, defected to the APC because of his ambition.
Emuan, an architect, has promisd to build on the progressive legacies of Governor Oshiomhole. He said the industrialisation of the state and welfare programmes would be the priority of his administration.
He said: “The shape of life on earth and things to come also depend on technology. This is why we will quickly make Edo the technological heartbeat of Nigeria.
“To make Edo the technological and socio-economic heartbeat, we will promote intense inter-state trade and increase interaction between local researchers, innovators, designers, fabricators, assemblers and research and development professionals in all spheres.
“We will introduce neo-structural wlfarism, which is a new way of thinking. The old structure is like the old economy. But, this is a new way of doing things. it entails tapping into the knowledge of the new economy. The political economy of the world today is distraught in economic disparity, resulting into economic mal-adjustment, giving room for poverty, insecurity and terrorism. This is the old order.”
Onaiwu has described himself as ‘The Solution’ to Edo problems. This is the first time he is contesting for any elective position. Onaiwu is up in arms against Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Matthew Iduoriyikemwen in the PDP. Many say his chances of scaling the party primary is slim, because his opponents have been in the system for a long time. Unlike other PDP aspirants, the posters of Osaro are not seen at the state party secretariat or in other parts of the state.
He, however, said the experience he garnered while working with other governors stand him out as the best candidate to lift Edo to greatness.
Obaseki is riding on the popularity of his alleged endorsement by Governor Oshiomhole. Compared with other aspirants in the APC, he has become a household name. His critics, however, say the role his grandfather played during and after the British Invasion of 1897 may work against his aspiration. But, he appears unperturbed. Obaseki has been described as the silent brain behind the success of Oshiomhole.
Those opposed to his candidacy say he is not sellable because he is not a politician. In this regard, analysts have advised him to do more to market himself, rather than depending on the governor to pull some strings for him.
Obaseki said Edo needs a capitalist to invest in its economy, set up industries, create employment and increase its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
On his association with Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Dangote Group, Obaseki said: “Other countries are looking for people like Aliko Dangote. Fortunately, he is a friend. We need to encourage him to come and invest in the state. We are discouraging such person. I believe anybody that is doing that don’t like us because I have seen what capitalism has done for the rest of the world.”
He is the youngest aspirant in the race. His critics said it was laughable that he joined the race because he is from the same senatorial district with Oshiomhole. Agbonmhere, however, is not concerned about where he hails from. He said what matters what he is capable of achieving. He said his campaign would be focus on the youth.