It is the quest of all members of the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State for the party to regain power in the state after the September 19 governorship polls. It lost power 2008 due to political differences between late Chief Tony Anenih and Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor but its present day leaders seem not to have learnt any bitter lesson.
The PDP congresses that were supposed to see to the emergence of new generation of leadership in the PDP has been fraught with irregularities and manipulation. It has been the same old style of imposition since 1999 and the same people recycling themselves in power just to be in control of the party.
The strength of a political party is supposed to be at leadership provided at the grassroots but in Edo PDP the strength is believed to be in the so-called leaders. This has caused the party several electoral misfortune it has suffered since 2008.
The Ward congresses held on February 1st 2020 was supposed to allow PDP members pick their preferred leadership through electoral contest but what party members witnessed smirked of any democratic principles. Ballot papers were not present. In many of the wards, electoral officers were not seen. What emerged were already complied list that was read out to the people as elected ward officers.
What happened across the state has been condemned by lovers of democracy in the state. In the words of a chieftain of the party in Akoko-Edo local government, Hon Barrister Oladele Bankole-Balogun, “Regrettably, a process that was designed to be transparent by the NWC was hijacked by few elements that are desperately seeking to convert Edo PDP into a personal property.
“Evidence of irregularities and violence against innocent party men and women are obvious in my Local Government Area -Akoko Edo LGA. You do not expect that a party of civilised people in the 21st century would conduct such a sham ward congress .
“Democratic elections were not conducted across the 10 wards of Akoko -Edo LGA. Those that were courageous enough to demand compliance with the party / INEC guidelines were brutalized and others were arrerested and dumped in the police station at Igarra.
“A band of merry men and jobbers who claimed to be acting the script from above turned what should have been a demonstration/ celebration of our strong democracy into a show of shame and utter desperation”.
Bankole-Banlogun spoke the mind of many leaders that complained about the conduct of the ward congresses because any failure at the level would reflect in the type of party leadership that will emerge and eventually the candidate of the party in the September 19 governorship election.
Already some aggrieved party members have secured an injunction stopping the PDP from publishing results of the ward congresses. The court also stopped further conduct of the local government congresses. This is a clear and present danger for the Edo PDP ahead of the elections if steps are not taken to fix the damage.
Chief Dan Orbih has led the party in Edo for 12 years even though he never won any election for the party. He has been fingered as the architect of the current crisis. Orbih was supposed to leave the party strong in the hands of competent Executives from the ward level to the state. His open support for a particular candidate from Edo South senatorial district is what is leading the PDP to the path of self destruction.
The national leadership of the PDP should and must act now to put the party on the right path in Edo. It should avoid certain activities that.would be detrimental to the party at the polls. Defeating the ruling APC in Edo will be an easy task to accomplish if the right candidate is picked and not some talks being bandied that only candidates from Edo South can win elections in Edo. Edo PDP needs a candidate that is loved and accepted by the people in all parts of the state.
Another pitfall the PDP national leadership should avoid is to accept an aspirant that does not have acceptability across the state. The PDP should know by now that Barr. Kenneth Imasuangbon is the only aspirant among the many lots that is an household name.
Imasuangbon also known as the Rice Man, will be an easy sell for the PDP during the campaigns. He has as much followership in Edo South senatorial district as in other senatorial district. He is a man with a big heart and well loved by the masses.