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Edo 2020: Those who want Obaseki’s job

As the 2020 governorship election in Edo State draws nearer, IDRIS UMAR MOMOH writes that many aspirants have started to jostle for the position currently occupied by Godwin Obaseki.

Edo State will in few months from now become the cynosure of all eyes, both at home and in theDiaspora. All eyes and attention will be on the state not because of the proposed National Sports Festival and Women under-20 FIFA World Cup to be hosted by the state government but for a big political event happening next year- the off-season gubernatorial election. Eligible voters in the state would be going to the poll to decide which among the close to 100 political parties will take over the political leadership of the state.

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Edo State, since the returnof Nigeria to civil rule in 1999 has been dominated and governed by two main political parties- the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Congress (AC) which later metamorphosed into Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In 1999, Lucky Igbinedion of the PDP defeated Lucky Imasuen of All People’s Party (APP) to emerge the democratically elected governor of the state. In 2003, Igbinedion also defeated Roland Owie of the then All Nigeria People’s Party to be re-elected for second tenure.

In 2007, Oserhiemen Osunbor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) defeated Adams Oshiomhole of Action Congress (AC) to occupy the exalted office located on Dennis Osadebay Avenue. But the Osunbor’s government was however, short-lived as the Election Appeal Tribunal sitting in Benin nullified his election and declared Adams Oshiomhole of Action Congress winner of the election.

Since then, the baton of political governance and domination has been in the hands of the APC. For his re-election in 2012, Oshiomhole defeated Charles Airhavbare, a retired Major-General of the PDP, while in the 2016 gubernatorial election, the incumbent Governor, Godwin Obaseki defeated Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the same PDP.

Though, the APC dominated the governorship political space, the PDP has dominated theNational Assembly seats belonging to Edo.

As the gubernatorial election fast approaches, some aspirants have been nursing the ambition as well as putting machinery in place to clinch their various party’s ticket, especially the two major political parties-the APC and the PDP.

In APC, some aspirants that have for now publicly indicated interest to vie for the party’s ticket are the incumbent governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Charles Airhiavbere, Pius Odubu, the yet-to-be-sworn in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board chairman and OsagieIze-Iyamu.

On the platform of the People’s Democratic Party are Gideon Ikhine, Ifaluyi Isibor and Ken Imasuagbon.

Godwin Obaseki

It is no longer news that his quest for re-election has factionalised the party. The factions are the Obaseki/Shaibu Movement (OSM), clamouring for 4 + 4 and the Edo People’s Movement (EPM), the proponent of 3+ 1, one tenure for the governor.While the OSM faction believes that the governor has performed creditably in the governance of the state the EPM members are of the view that he has deviated from the main governance thrust of the party, and they are bent on shopping for his replacement.The opposition to the governor’s actualisation of his second term bid are evident in the various attacks against him either in the media or the recent physical assault on him, traditional rulers and some notable personalities at the last Edo University, Iyamho maiden convocation; suspension and counter-suspension of executive members of the party in the state.The proponent of 4+4 opine that the Obaseki-led government has redefined governance in the state, especially in the areas of building institution as well as human capital development of youths through the EdoJobs and EdoBest initiatives. They also argue that the governor like no other governor before him has matched his words with action with the creation of over 157,000 direct and indirect jobs in the past three years out of the 200,000 jobs promised during electioneering campaigns; while a total of over 11,300 teachers in 918 public schools trained and delivering lessons with digital teaching aids. The governor, had at a recent function said: “Through the Edo-Best programme, we have groomed the new tribe of versatile, tech-savvy and highly-skilled teachers, who are leading a world-acclaimed public education revolution in Edo state.

“Reforms in the basic education sector have led to increased enrollment in public primary schools, where pupils now learn three times more than they used to learn in the old system.These improvements have stood us out not only in Nigeria but across the world as we have now become the case study for a public sector-led action to address learning poverty, which is ravaging the globe.

“Hence, a lot of states within the country including Lagos are coming to learn from our success story. At the same time, we have also received foreign delegation from Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, among others, who have come to understudy the Edo-Best programme.

“We have gotten accolades from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Bank, the Finnish Embassy, among others, on the impact of the reforms in our schools.

“For these and the harmonious working relationship we have built with teachers in the state in the last three years, I received the award of the Best Performing Governor in Nigeria in 2019 by the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT)”, he said.

Within the last three years in government, the governor has also constructed a total of 101 roads spanning 414 kilometres through the ministry of infrastructure and 300 roads, spanning 212 kilometres across the state by the State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR).

The roads were part of the state government’s infrastructure to drive development, to enhance access to rural areas, open up new towns and consolidate on urban renewal vision.

With these developments and others, the OSM are of the opinion that the governor deserves ticket for re-election for another four years.

Chris Ogiemwonyi

Chris Osa Ogiemwonyi, defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) November 28, 2014.

Ogiemwonyi, a former Minister for Works, state, at the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Works retired as a  group executive director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the  current President of Energy and Engineering Technology Consulting Group since 2011.

He began his career as a petroleum engineer in 1975 with the Conservation Department and in February 1977 was seconded to Shell Petroleum Development Company Warri. This secondment was enriched by a four and half month Advance Petroleum Engineering Programme in Shell’s Training Centre in the Hague, Netherlands.

In 1982, Ogiemwonyi resumed work at the Exploration & Exploitation Division of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and in 1985 he was transferred to the National Reserves Evaluation as a project leader. While in office as a project leader, Ogiemwonyi coordinated all efforts in Dallas, USA in establishing a strong database for the oil and gas industry.

In 1988, he was moved back to the Exploration Division of the Exploration & Exploitation as head of the Petroleum Engineering Department Company to nurture the newly created Petroleum Engineering Department.

In 1988, he became the project leader (Petroleum Engineer) of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company in Benin City.

He championed the takeover of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company and he kept an up-to-date reserves position of the company.

He was the field project leader in Abuja as his company had the major takeover asset from defunct Tenneco.

Ogiemwonyi raised the production level from 980 bopd to over 4,000 bopd in 1990. In 1992, he served as Oredo Field Project Leader which was a Greenfield project that involved Kelt Energy, UK and IP Construction, Calgary. The project was an engineering, procurement, construction as well as operations of 10,000 bopd early production facility which has now been expanded to process 30mmscf/d.

He also served as Oziengbe field Leader. This is another 10,000 bopd EPC facility at Oziengbe field.

In the year 1999, Chris Ogiemwonyi was promoted to the post of the General Manager, operations and was moved to National Petroleum Investments Management Services (NAPIMS) to oversee the Operations Division. He also championed several projects as a general manager most especially the Local content initiative of the Federal Government, due to the hardworking service; Ogiemwonyi got appointed as the Group General Manager NAPIMS in 2001.

While serving as the Group General Manager NAPIMS, Ogiemwonyi supervised the whole industry including the Joint Ventures and the Production Sharing Companies.

During his days in NAPIMS, Ogiemwonyi served as Chairman, Nigeria OTC Committee between 2003 and 2004. Notably, he also championed and supervised several key projects which includes the EA field, Erha field, Bonga field, Agbami field amongst others.

Under his leadership NAPIMS achieved zero cash call arrears by October, 2003. As GGM NAPIMS, the Oil Industry was encouraged on joint utilization of assets such as offshore swamp rigs.

In November, 2003, Ogiemwonyi was reassigned to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company as managing director and his expertise helped in increasing the company’s production from 20,000 bopd to 70,000bopd. He served as chairman, Project Monitoring Committee of Okono/Okpho Development Project, a strategic alliance between Nigerian Petroleum Development Company and Agip Energy Limited. He also served as Chairman, PMC of OMLs 64 and 66 Project, another strategic alliance between the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company and SINOPEC of China.

Ogiemwonyi was again reassigned to National Gas Company Limited as managing director in March, 2005. He was determined to increase gas supply to major customers like; PHCN, SNG, GSLINK, WAPCO, SHAGAMU, and EWEKORO, NOTORE FERTILIZER PH,Obajana Cement Company COMPANY etc. NGC is coordinating 130mmscf/d gas supply (WAGP – West Africa gas Supply Project) to Benin, Togo, Ghana and hopefully to Ivory Coast.

In September, 2007, Ogiemwonyi became the Group Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (Exploration & Production Directorate).

While he served as GED Exploration and Production, Ogiemwonyi was in charge of seven Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation companies and subsidiaries which included National Petroleum Investment Management Services, Nigerian Gas Company, LNG & Power Division, Integrated Data Services Limited, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Crude Oil, Marketing Division and Local Content Division.

Ogiemwonyi was the President of Energy and Engineering Technology Consulting Group, between September 2009 through April 2010.In the primary for the 2016 governorship election, he came a distant fourth position with 137 votes.

Charles Airhiavbere

A retired Major General in the Nigerian Army in 2012 emerged the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party with 403 votes to challenge the then governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole at the election.

He defeated other aspirants like OserhiemenOsunbor, the former governor who scored 22 votes, Ken Imasuagbon, 178 votes, Julius Ihonvbere, 24 votes and Mathew Iduoriyekenwen, 94 votes.

The former Commander of the Army Finance Corps, in April 2015, however, dumped PDP for APC, and participated in the 2016 governorship primary election.The former National Co-ordinator to Goodluck Jonathan election, at the APC governorship primary election got only 11 votes.The Army General, who has not publicly disclosed his interest to contest the party ticket at the primary election has been one of the vocal EPM members describing the Obaseki-led administration as not meeting the yearning of the people, and therefore, advocated that a second term ticket should not be given to the governor by the party.

OsagieIze-Iyamu

OsagieIze-Iyamu was appointed Chief of Staff, Government House, Edo State, under the Lucky NosakhareIgbinedion-led PDP administration from 1999-2003.He was however, elevated to the position of Secretary to the State Government (SSG).At the twilight of the Lucky Igbinedion administration, he co-founded a political pressure group, the ‘Grace Group’ with the slogan “No man is God” against the then political domination of the late Tony Anenih, popularly known as “Mr Fix it”.

He however, worked with Adams Oshiomhole and his party, Action Congress during the 2007 governorship election.He was the National Vice Chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).He was also the Director-General of Oshiomhole’s second term Campaign Organisation.He however,dumped the APC to join PDP in 2014 and emerged the party’s gubernatorial flag bearer in 2016.

In the 2015 presidential election, he was the Coordinator of Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation as well as Edo State coordinator of Atiku/Obi presidential campaign organisation in 2019.Ize-Iyamu, who has not declared his intention to contest the party ticket in the forthcoming 2020 governorship election, has been widely rumoured to be anointed by the top APC chieftains in the country to complete the second tenure of Governor Godwin Obaseki.The former PDP governorship candidate, who resigned from the party last Thursday, dismissed the report that he joined the party to pitch tent with a faction of the APC in the state.Ize-Iyamu said his decision to defect to the APC was born out of his desire to provide solutions to the challenges bedevilling the people of Edo State.

“My coming to APC is like homecoming for me and my supporters. More members of the PDP across the 18 Local Government Council Areas of the state have agreed to move en-masse with me to join the ruling party,”he added.

At the 2016 governorship election, Godwin Obaseki polled a total of 319,483 votes to defeat OsagieIze-Iyamu of PDP who scored 253,173 votes.

Pius Odubu

Odubu was deputy governor to Adams Oshiomhole all through his eight years in office. During the 2016 primary election, in his quest to succeed his principal, he came second with 471 votes.The new board chairman of NDDC is awaiting the President’s inauguration after members have been screened by the National Assembly.With the appointment, some political analysts are of the view that the interest to run for the election has been foreclosed.He won several awards as the most loyal deputy governor in the country.

On the side of the People’s Democratic Party, some of the aspirants that have shown interest are, Ken Imasuagbon, Gideon Ikhine and IfaluyiIsibor.

Gideon Ikhine

Gideon Ikhine is an engineer and politician, Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE) and a member of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).A 1990 graduate of Engineering from the University of Benin, Benin City, where he obtained a Second-Class (B. Eng.) honours in Civil Engineering. He has attended several training programmes locally and internationally.His work life as a leader and engineer has seen him through over 29 years of post qualification experience that has exposed him to opportunities in both public and private sectors where he has executed several projects. Challenged by the need to create a truly Nigerian engineering company that could compete with its international counterparts and provide equal employment opportunity for the teeming Nigerian engineers and people in 1997, he left SPDC Nigeria Limited to establish Nugi Limited, an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) company. The company initially focused on the Oil and Gas industry, but has now grown to other strategic sectors of the economy. Other subsidiaries where he serves on the Board as Chairman include:Nugi LLC (Engineering & Procurement), Houston, USA; Granite Rocks Limited a Mining Company for Granites.Pinnacle Farms Limited with over 25 Hectares of Cocoa at Ohe Village in Esan Central LGA of Edo State.His first stint into politics was between 1987 and 1988, during political parties’ formation in the Third Republic. He was one of the pioneer members of the Nigeria Youth Organisation which metamorphosed into the Ideal Peoples Party led by team of Sani Sha’aban, MuazuAbubarkar III, Joseph Ighofose, AyodeleKosoko, etc. The Ideal Peoples Party later merged with the Liberal Convention. Nevertheless, his passion for bipartisan politics saw him show tremendous support for SDP in the Third Republic and later PDP in the Fourth Republic.His political involvement and support for his party PDP from the national through state to LGA and ward levels have seen him exhibit passion in the restructuring and repositioning of his party on several occasions. He has demonstrated commitment to the party by supporting the aspirations of party members to the State House of Assembly and National Assembly on various occasions.

In recent times, he worked assiduously in his Senatorial Zone in ensuring the success of our party (PDP) in the emergence of two members into the House of Representatives and a member into the Senate in the last two consecutive elections; this earned him the acronym “The Game Changer”.A philanthropist par excellence, his home is open to all and sundry at all times. Ikhine believes Edo State needs grassroots political leaders with compassionate heart that can connect with the yearnings, pains, and cries of her citizens; especially the under-privileged, the teeming youths and women seeking hope for a better tomorrow and the total liberation of Edolites.He prays earnestly that God will answer the people’s prayers as he promises to give good governance to the people of Edo State when he becomes the governor come 2020.

IfaluyiIsibor

Isibor was a former House of Representatives member, representing Egor/Ikpoba Okha federal constituency between 2007-2011, a former, federal commissioner in the federal character commission between 2014-2018 as well as the immediate past president, University of Benin Alumni Association worldwide and currently a member of the UNIBEN governing council.

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