A whooping 68 aspirants are gearing up to contest the governorship seat in Edo state.
Daily Report Nigeria reports that the candidates will enter the contest at the primary elections of their various political parties to fight for a chance to secure the governorship tickets of their parties.
The 68 aspirants so far identified are those jostling for the tickets of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), and Labour Party (LP) only.
A detailed report release on Tuesday morning showed that there are 11 aspirants in ruling PDP, 29 in the APC, and 28 in the LP.
For the APC, the contest has become more intensified over the party’s failure to zone the governorship ticket to the Edo Central Senatorial District, a move that has caused many unexpected declarations, particularly that of state’s APC chairman, Col. David Imuse (retd) into the race.
Others entrants are serving senators, House of Representatives members, and notable figures like former commissioner, Kassim Afegbua and former APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
For the LP, popular faces like Kenneth Imasuagbon is entering the contest for the fifth time in his career under different political banners.
Imasuagbon is joined in the race by newcomers like Olumide Akpata and Dorry Okogie, in what is now a debate of political experience versus fresh perspectives.
For the PDP, incumbent deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, who has been involved in power struggle with Governor Godwin Obaseki, has thrown emphasis on his 30 years in politics and determination to sustain his boss’s legacy as campaign strategy.
Shaibu is strongly tipped to secure the parties ticket by one of his allies, Immam Babangida, saying that the deputy governor could pick the PDP ticket if a level playing ground for all aspirants is provided by the party.
However, Governor Obaseki has thrown his weight behind the chairman of Sterling Bank, Asuen Ighodalo, raising eyebrows on a potential shift in the state’s leadership.
Another familiar face among the first-time contenders is Dennis Idahosa, who has defeated the Igbinedion political dynasty twice in the past, providing a fighting chance for the APC’s ticket.
The women’s representation in the race remains strong, with candidates like Dr Angela Ason-Aburime, Dr Loretta Ogboror-Okor, and Dr Emily Okojie asserting their presence within the LP.
For Dr Tony Aziegbemi, the Edo state PDP Chairman, the influx of aspirants is a good step for democracy and a way to underscore the party’s credibility and readiness to organise credible congresses and primaries.
His words: “I imagine that people are taking that conscious step to be aspirants in a political party. In the PDP, we are excited that we have aspirants with capacity, character and content.
“Right now, we have 11 aspirants, nine from Edo Central, and one each from Edo South and Edo North. There was a Special Edo Central Committee meeting on Sunday with the aspirants and out of the nine that have expressed interest in the contest, seven showed up and two sent in apologies. This shows that people want to identify with a successful party.
“The high number is good for democracy, people believe in the system the PDP has put in place; they believe the party will organise a credible congress and primaries and that is why they are showing interest. So we are excited that there are many aspirants. We are not worried that there are so many aspirants as we still expect more people to join the race.
“All the aspirants in PDP have content and are credible. Anyone who emerges as the candidate of the party can win the governorship election.”