A well respected former governor in his old age is making a bold effort to galvanise popular movement to choose a successor to another popular governor. Will it work?

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
It perhaps could be the last political standoff for the popular former two-time governor, General Samuel Ogbemudia.

With a reputation that still soars especially among the elderly, the former military governor of the former Midwest region and executive governor of the equally defunct Bendel State is
banking on projecting a legacy that could sustain his native Edo State in top ranking in all fields.


General Ogbemudia

The stage for Ogbemudia’s coming political exposure is the coming Edo State governorship contest.

Ogbemudia’s concern is understandable given his unwavering
support of the outgoing governor whose legacy he told Vanguard in an interview should not be allowed to go to a wrong hand.

In a tone laced with irony for a member of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ogbemudia had told Vanguard that he would have supported the All Progressives
Congress, APC’s Adams Oshiomhole for a third term if constitutional limitations had allowed for such.

“If it were possible for a governor to get third term, nobody would have bothered to look for another person else, but because of constitutional provision, we will have to look for
someone that will take over from him and continue where he left and that means that all Edo people must speak with one voice,” Ogbemudia had said.

With a third term for Oshiomole not in the cards, Ogbemudia and some associates from across the state are from tomorrow formally commencing the search for a successor to the
outgoing governor with the launch of the Edo Mass Movement, EMM. The EMM is a body that is being promoted principally with the good name of the former governor.

With structures around the state, the body according to a working document obtained by Vanguard intends to “be largely politically active but lean not to any partisan sentiments.”

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The body would, however, shed itself of its non-partisan posture “when a person with a proven track record of achievement aspires for political office and he or she is able to command the
support of the Movement as to necessitate a direct intervention to get him or her elected or appointed as the case may be.”

Ahead of the formal launch of the body, Ogbemudia has made consultations with major stakeholders across the state and reportedly with the outgoing governor on the issue.


Oshiomhole

Though the EMM is being projected as a non-partisan platform to realise the best interests of the Edo man after Oshiomole’s exit, many in Ogbemudia’s own party, the PDP are not just only uncomfortable with it, but hostile towards the venture. They see
it as a platform to consolidate what they perceive as the illicit political relationship between Ogbemudia and Oshiomole.

Ahead of the launch, a number of PDP chieftains including serving and former officers of the party claimed ignorance. Even the highest elected political office holder from Ogbemudia’s Edo South Senatorial District, Senator Matthew Uroghide claimed ignorance of the launch yesterday.

“I am not aware, I have not been informed,” the senator said.

The seeming exclusion of the PDP from Ogbemudia’s binoculars is reflected in the fact that PDP leaders across the state are this weekend involved in high-level meetings across the three
senatorial districts paying scant attention to tomorrow’s launch.

Even within the APC itself, there is concern among the top leadership of the project. Governor Oshiomhole, authoritative sources told Vanguard, was so concerned about the formal
launch that he immediately visited Ogbemudia to express his concern about the idea of a top PDP man searching for his successor.

The governor’s anxiety could be traceable to suggestions that some of the prospective 2016 governorship aspirants could try to use the good name and heritage of Governor Ogbemudia to position themselves.

Among the leading aspirants in the APC Kenneth Imansuagbon whose philanthropic gestures of periodic distribution of rice among others have won him the sobriquet, the rice man,
Osarodion Ogie, a trusted ally of the governor, Chris Ogiewonyi,
a former minister, the incumbent deputy governor, Dr. Pius Odubu, the immediate past governor, Senator Osehrienmen Osunbor and the immediate past PDP governorship candidate, Charles Airhiavbere.

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Likely contestants

In the PDP, among those who are being looked upon to contest is Senator Ehigie Uzamere who recently voluntarily vacated his Senate seat after setting the record of being the first senator from Edo South to serve two terms, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu
whose ambition was recently covertly endorsed by former Governor Lucky Igbinedion, Chief Solomon Edebiri, and
Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, a former commissioner in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Reflective of the seeming political neutrality of the EMM, the third most dominant political party in Edo State, the Social Democratic Party, SDP recently offered to collaborate with the
EMM in its desire. To what extent such a collaboration would go is, however, not known.

However, a medical doctor who is himself actively involved in the mobilisation for the EMM was dismissal of the suggestions that any one of the known aspirants could hijack the movement for his own ends.

Sources within the body claim that the EMM could end up with a dark horse outside of the known names that are presently in the imagination of the electorate. Those working on this theory believe that such a candidate would bring his present qualification and capacities to ride on the good name of Ogbemudia.

Nonetheless, ahead of tomorrow’s launch, a number of the leading political players in the state even if they put down Ogbemudia’s political capacities are would be on the look out to measure the success or otherwise of the launch. How it comes out would be decisive for them.

Vanguard

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