With just weeks to go before the 2023 general election, ADEYINKA ADEDIPE examines the political scenes in Edo State, weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of the champions of the top senatorial seats, as well as those of their political parties.

With the gubernatorial election not taking place in Edo state in 2023, the biggest battle in the state’s political space will be between the gladiators hoping to represent the electorate in the Senate.

The standard bearers of the main political parties are already campaigning in the hope of persuading voters to vote for them.

From North State to Central State and South State, the campaign train is already moving at high speed, and the candidates let people into their manifestos and show them what they will benefit from if they (the candidates) are elected for the charge.

Running a campaign is a capital-intensive endeavor, but the candidates have been wise thus far and aren’t throwing money at voters to gain their support. Time will tell if this money-saving technique will stay the same as the election approaches.

With the state’s Popular Democratic Party yet to close ranks and the acrimony in the party unabated with cases still in the courts to decide who represents the party in the elections, it is clear that the Congress of All Progressives and the candidates of the Labor Party could become big beneficiaries of the PDP imbroglio.

Currently, candidates loyal to Governor Godwin Obaseki are listed on the INEC website, but candidates on Dan Orbih’s side are waiting to take over in case of a favorable court decision. Whichever camp gets the final nod, the political space in the state is set to witness much intrigue in the days to come.

However, the battle is expected to be intense in North Edo, where two-term governors on the APC platform, Adam Oshiomhole and Senator Francis Alimikhena, who is in Governor Obaseki’s PDP camp, are expected to fight. Both belonged to the APC. In 2014, Oshiomhole supported Alimikhena in the APC primary to defeat then-Senator Domingo Obende.

However, Obaseki and Oshiomhole had irreconcilable differences ahead of the 2020 state gubernatorial election, which led to the former’s departure from the APC to the PDP, on which platform he was re-elected as state governor. Alimikhena, who had already become a strong supporter of Obaseki, remained in the APC.

After testing the waters, Oshiomhole declared his intention to run for senatorial candidacies in North Edo, which automatically became a threat to the ambition of Alimikhena, who after a while joined Governor Obaseki in the PDP after accusing the leaders of the APC party in Edo Norte to work against him. In the APC primary, Alimikhena was credited with four votes, with the aggrieved senator discrediting the claim that he participated in the primary, saying the APC wanted to tear him apart.

Oshiomhole has an advantage over the PDP candidate in the upcoming elections because he led his people to victory in five of Edo North’s six local governments when Obaseki was elected governor in 2020. The former APC national chair is a household name and will wear big change in political dynamics in Edo North to beat him in the elections.

Oshiomhole, who did a lot of development work in Edo North while he was governor, is the favorite in this contest, while Alimikhena hopes to take down Oshiomhole despite being the starter. The Senator will not go down without a fight, and his men are also seeking support for him to ensure he returns to the Green Chamber. The sitting senator will fantasize about his chances of returning to the Senate but will find himself up against a political heavyweight (Oshiomhole) in the race, while Pascal Ugbome, who belongs to the Orbih faction, cannot be ruled out pending verdicts in some pending court. cases.

Anslem Eragbe, the standard-bearer for the Labor Party in the area, is the dark horse and will need to be at his political prime to beat Oshiomhole, Alimikhena and Ugbome to the ticket. He is consulting and meeting with grassroots people in the hope that he can win their votes. He should also be able to ride on the Obedient Movement, which is spreading like wildfire. Whatever the outcome of the elections, this will be a good testing ground for Eragbe.

In southern Edo, PDP’s Matthew Iduoriyekenmwen, who is in the governor’s camp and the party’s nominee as of today, appears to have the biggest impact on the campaign train. He always meets people from his constituency, both at his residence and on the campaign trail. He visits districts and local governments to see the voters. He is not waiting for court decisions before selling his candidacy to the people of the constituency. He has been a member of the PDP since its inception and was Majority Leader in the Edo State Legislative Assembly.

He was also a commissioner of NDDC, representing the state of Edo. He defeated incumbent Matthew Urhoghide in a close contest in the primary election, while the other primary, held by Orbih’s faction, dumped Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who close aides say is awaiting the court’s final ruling before to embark on the campaign.

Oil tycoon Valentine Asuen holds the APC ticket. He defeated a former state lieutenant governor, Lucky Imasuen, in the primary. He is new to politics and has run his campaign in a way that leaves supporters and opponents alike wondering what he has up his sleeve. However, Asuen has managed to win the affection of the grassroots. He also has the strong backing of the party’s youth leader, Tony Adun, who is a strong mobiliser.

However, the LP’s candidate, Neda Imasuen, cannot be ruled out. Imasuen was between 2014 and 2015 legislative consultant for the World Bank Project, which collaborated with SEEFOR, Asaba and Delta State in the development of the Treasury Single Account Policy.

Until his resignation to run for the senate representing the southern Edo senatorial district, attorney Imasuen was a senior legislative aide to Senator Matthew Urhoghide. In addition to experience gained in his consulting engagements, he has gained further insight into the operation and formulation of policies, legislation and programs as they interact with people on his issues.

He hopes that the ideology of change will win the elections. However, he has a big battle on his hands if he hopes to win the election and will surely need to go beyond the “change” mantra to achieve victory. The truth is that an imminent battle is brewing in this area.

The Edo Central APC candidate on Monday, Okpebholo, is new to politics but has always helped his constituency while in the private sector. He is not worried about the fact that he is new, as he hopes to beat the seasoned activists in the elections.

He can be described as the “Mr. Infrastructure” of Edo Central, as he hopes to carry out projects that will have an impact on people’s lives if he is elected. He is passionate about providing clean water and road infrastructure to the people. He says these are some of the things that prompted him to run for the Senate on the APC platform.

He also expressed his dismay that those who have represented Esanland in the recent past, both in elected and appointed positions, have failed the people, largely ensuring that the National Assembly would be a platform for him to provide more infrastructure to the people. region of. Okpebholo can capitalize on the PDP situation to emerge victorious.

Incumbent PPD Senator Clifford Ordia, who is in the Obaseki camp, is seeking a second term in the Edo Central holy chamber. He was a proven businessman in Port Harcourt in 2014 when he came to seek an elective position in Edo. He won, he served out his term, and his people gave him another four years in 2019. He is seeking another Senate term, but that ambition may be held back by infighting in the party, such as Arch Mike Onolememen, who won the primaries. in the other faction, he is also waiting to take over in case the court gives his camp the go-ahead to do so.

LP candidate Chris Omofonwam completes the list of prominent candidates seeking election to the Senate.