A dilemma of some sort was said to have crept into the workings of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the push for zoning of the governorship ticket by some leaders of the party in the state.
Investigations by the Nigerian Tribune indicated that the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and the governors under the platform of the PDP Governors’ Forum (PDPGF) are sharply divided over whether to adopt zoning or jettison it in the forthcoming governorship primaries set to take place next month.
It was learned that the party leaders have been in a dilemma following some reviews, which threw up the question of demographics and the voting strength of each of the three senatorial districts.
A section of the party’s leadership in Edo State had started the campaign for the zoning of the governorship slot to the Central Senatorial District on the strength of the claim that the zone had yet to produce a governor since the start of the current republic.
The zone had produced Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbo, who initially won the 2007 election on the ticket of the PDP but lost out to former governor Adams Oshiomhole when his election was nullified by the court.
Oshiomhole hails from Edo North. After Oshiomhole’s two terms in office, the governorship seat reverted to Edo South, which had produced the first governor of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Chief Lucky Igbinedion.
It thus meant that Edo Central is yet to produce a governor for the state, a development the champions of the idea termed the quest for justice, equity, and fair play.
While the idea appeared to be gaining ground late last year, sources said that a recent counterpoise by other leaders of the PDP in the state who have also monitored the temperature in the other political parties appeared to have altered the thinking.
Sources in Abuja said that the party leaders who have canvassed their views among members of the PDPGF and the NWC have insisted that it would amount to political suicide if the governorship slot is zoned to Edo Central.
One of the reasons given, according to sources, was the question of demographics, which is said to tilt in favour of Edo South.
While Edo South controls about 52 per cent of the votes in the state, Edo Central has about 21 per cent, and Edo North has 29 per cent of the voters.
“It would therefore be suicidal for any party to zone the governorship position to Edo Central given the lopsided voter population and especially when there is no statewide consensus on such an idea,” a source said, adding that feelers from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party are showing that the two parties want to pick candidates from Edo South.
The development was, however, said to have divided members of the NWC and the PDPGF, as a source said that the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki, whose camp favours zoning to Edo Central, and some leaders of the party under the Legacy Coalition were said to have divided the two powerful bodies.
A source said that Obaseki has been canvassing among his governor colleagues that it was only fair to allow him to produce a successor and that equity would mean that Edo Central should produce the next governor.
But members of the Legacy Coalition and loyalists of Chief Dan Obi, the National Vice Chairman, South-South of the party, were said to have retained the view that demography would play a big role in the election.
Sources said that leaders of the party who are supportive of the need to pick a candidate from Edo South are also of the view that zoning may not guarantee fairness, as according to them, the candidate who was prevailed upon to drop his ticket for Obaseki in 2020, who also hails from Edo South, Hon. Ogbeide Ihama, should be considered in the forthcoming primaries.
One of the leaders said, “Our fairness, equity, and justice should start in 2020 by rewarding Hon. Ogbeide Ihama, the man who stepped down to enable us to bring in Obaseki as a candidate in 2020.
“What the leaders told him then was that he still had age on his side. Now that he has been elected twice to the House of Representatives from Oredo Constituency, he has shown himself to be someone in tune with the grassroots and should be considered.”
It was learned that the NWC meeting, which was initially scheduled for last Wednesday, did not hold as a result of a lack of quorum and what a source said was related to the sharp division over the Edo governorship issue.