The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State prior to the emergence of presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) General Muhammadu Buhuri, as president-elect in the March 28, 2015 presidential election appeared ready to sink the ruling APC led government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The party had campaigned vigorously across the nook and crannies of the state winning more supporters who have been disenchanted with the APC in the state coupled with the calculation that victory for the PDP at the presidential election would further put the final nail to the political coffin of the APC in Edo State.
The presidential and the National Assembly election saw the PDP winning the entire senatorial and House of Representatives seats in Edo South and Central senatorial districts, a victory which further boosted the fortune of the party. However, as the PDP was basking in the euphoria of the victory it recorded in Edo State lasted, the hope was dashed after General Muhammadu Buhari was declared the winner of the March presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Expectedly the victory of Buhari unsettled PDP in Edo State as prominent members of the party move in droves to the APC. Those who ensured the failure of PDP in the state are now the one defecting with their numerous supporters.
Those who had in the past vowed not to dine and wine with the APC even with a long pole today are singing praises of Buhari and Oshiomhole to high heavens. In fact some of them described their days in the PDP as “nightmare” adding that with the loss of the PDP at the centre it is now clear that the PDP is dead finally.
Today, one of the major reasons they adduced for their mass defection was the fact that Edo State cannot remain in opposition to the ruling party at the centre adding that it would drag the state backwards in terms of development.
But the most shocking of all the defections was that of General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) the PDP governorship candidate in 2012. Before his defection, he was one of the coordinators of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign in the state.
The retired army general during his defection said, “I believe today which is also an Easter Sunday, is the day the Lord has made and set aside for the people of Edo State to have sustained peace and political progress. Since after my election of 2012, Edo State has experienced heightened political tension, which has brought development of the state to a back stage.
“That I was the governorship candidate of the PDP in 2012 election and its aftermath is history. I have decided to join the team of change that has come to the nation in the last election of March 28, 2015, so that Edo State will continue to enjoy the benefits of the party at the centre. Any politician who means well for this state will ground their arms of hate and join the change train of the APC government ably led by His Excellency, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.”
The former governorship candidate of the PDP added that, “I know for sure that with APC at the national and the state, there will be rapid development and all the campaign promises will be delivered to our dear state that is yearning for rapid development. Kudos to all APC members for your resilience and victory at the last election”.
“We will do it again in the state on April 11, 2015 election,” he added.
When asked why he didn’t defect before the March 28 presidential election, Airhiavbere said, “PDP didn’t give me any money. My drive and passion for Jonathan is from my personal efforts. I will ensure that Edo State remains in the mainstream. Money has never motivated me. I will always be loyal to the centre. We delivered to PDP in Edo South; we will deliver to APC on April 11 state elections.”
Professor Oserheimen Osunbor, was the immediate past governor of Edo State, a major pillar of the PDP in Edo Central senatorial district. He was governor of Edo State for 18 months before the emergence of Oshiomhole through the court ruling. No doubt, Osunbor, who is a major player in the PDP contributed to the massive victory recorded by the party in the March 28 election. Curiously, on Tuesday, March 7, he equally defected to the ruling APC with his teeming supporters.
Receiving Osunbor and thousands of his supporters at Iruekpen, Oshiomhole said, “I will be working with a respected professor of law like you and many of your supporters. We thank God for what he has used us to achieve. I appeal to our people to vote for our APC House of Assembly candidates because they will help me to develop our state rapidly and with the APC government at the top, the sky is our limit”.
Other prominent members of PDP who defected with their supporters are Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula, former deputy minority leader in the House of Representatives and co-founder of the Friends of Goodluck Jonathan Support Group and former provost marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Idada Ikponmwen.
Ikponmwen, who defected in Benin urged all his supporters to vote APC all the way in the April 11 state elections. “I am exceedingly happy that our people and the entire nation have overwhelmingly voted for the man of the moment, a perpendicular person, a leader of proven character, a courageous and detribalised man with zero tolerance for corruption, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari to lead this nation.
“I urged all Nigerians and particularly our people of Edo State to give their votes en-mass at the un-concluded Edo South senatorial and House of Assembly elections coming up on the 11th of April, 2015 to APC candidates in order to support the ongoing political revolution in the country”, said Ikponmwen.
It was reliably gathered that all arrangements have been concluded to receive a major financier and governorship aspirant of the PDP, Kenneth Imansuagbon (Rice man) into the APC fold. It was also learnt that Chief Tom Ikimi, former APC chieftain and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Edo South co-ordinator of Jonathan campaign are being wooed back into the APC. It is a known fact that both Ikimi and Ize-Iyamu played crucial roles in the merger talks that gave birth to APC, before defecting to the PDP.
It was also learnt that the daughter of Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, Omosede Igbinedion, who just won the Ovia Federal Constituency House of Representatives seat is equally warming up to defect to the APC.
Interestingly, most of these defectors played major roles in the Jonathan campaign and ensured his victory over Buhari in Edo State, but shortly after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC announced the APC presidential candidate as winner, things have fallen apart in Edo PDP.
If the on-going defections are anything to go by, then Edo is gradually becoming a one-party state.
In a swift reaction to the defections, which has become a daily affair, the state chairman of the embattled party, Dan Osi Orbih said it is a non-issue. “Those who defected have no political value”, said Orbih.