The fight for who becomes the APC governorship flag-bearer in the upcoming Edo governorship elections appears to have narrowed down to two contenders: incumbent governor Godwin Obaseki and his arch-rival from the 2016 contest for the same ticket, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
This followed the stepping down of other leading contenders - Dr. Pius Odubu, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), Johnson Agbonyima, Saturday Uwulekhue and Prof. Ebegue Amadasun - for Ize-Iyamu on Tuesday ahead of the June 22, 2020 primaries.
Negotiations for the aspirants to agree on a consensus was reached Tuesday night in Abuja, and Ize-Iyamu was said to have come tops, after a screening by a committee set-up for the selection exercise. The screening committee was headed by former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Francis Alimikhena, while other members included former Edo Deputy Governor, Lucky Imasuen; General Cecil Esekhaigbe (rtd); ex-Edo Speaker, Thomas Okosun; former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie; ex-member of the House of Representatives, Patrick Obahiagbon and Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason.
Meanwhile, Pastor Ize-Iyamu has explained his grievances against Governor Obaseki, saying it would be politically suicidal for the party to present the incumbent for a second term. Ize-Iyamu, who spoke, yesterday, shortly after picking his Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja, said the aspirants and members of the APC Caucus in the House of Representatives, led by the House Deputy Leader, Comrade Peter Akpatason, contributed the N22.5 million fees to purchase the forms for him.
Conceding that the governor - who has also picked his nomination form - has a right to seek a second term, he argued that such ambition was negotiable, as other APC members have rights to seek to displace him.
Ize-Iyamu said he had done his best trying to counsel the governor and that the time had come to reposition the state. "Even though what we have now is an APC administration, we are not too happy with the pace of development. We are not happy with the rancor. We are not happy with the divisions. We are not happy with the insecurity, and that cannot augur well for development. That was why we said our party cannot be changed; that it is better to change the incumbent and ensure that our party remains in office.
“In all the rifts in the party, I have not heard the national chairman say anything against the governor. It has been a one-way traffic. It has been the governor, his deputy and people in his government constantly and persistently abusing the national chairman, who like a father has kept quiet. The governor has created a rift between himself and leaders of the party in Edo State, because the people that put him there, he has used all kinds of negative adjectives to describe them. He has no relationship with them.
“When I came in, I made several efforts to see the governor to tell him I was coming back home and to advise him that it was better to have a united house than create factions. It is surprising that before I came into the party, I could speak to him at will but the moment I told him about my agenda, why I wanted to see him, it became impossible. “He closed the door and, of course, you do not expect me to force my way into Government House. I have done my best in trying to talk to him and those who are close to him that factions and strong words are not the way to go."