The defection of the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, from the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is already upsetting the order in the opposition party in the State, with Leaders taking divergent positions on the alleged plot to concede the party’s Governorship ticket to him, Page 36 learnt.
While several PDP Governors and Leaders are for the concession, a few others are resisting the offer, on the grounds that it would not help party discipline.
Some old members are said to be angry at what they see as preferential treatment for Obaseki, in the race for the Governorship ticket.
They are worried that the allegations which cost Obaseki the APC ticket, may work against the PDP, in the event that he emerges as the party’s Governorship Candidate.
Some Governors want those allegations sorted out, before any concession is made.
Top PDP members, including former President, Goodluck Jonathan, and a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, are rooting for Obaseki, reportedly.
Investigations revealed that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, and the two PDP Senators from Edo State, Clifford Ordia (Edo Central) and Urhoghide Aishagbonnriodion (Edo South), are behind the plot to give the Governorship ticket to Obaseki.
Sources said that they facilitated the secret talks between Obaseki and some PDP Governors and party Leaders.
The secret talks were in anticipation of his disqualification by the APC Screening Committee.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, and the influential former Chairman of the PDP in the State, Chief Dan Orbih, are yet to make any commitment, however.
Although, Obaseki’s defection is yet to be formally tabled before the party, it was gathered that he was given some conditions at the secret talks for him to get the Governorship ticket.
The conditions are: Membership waiver and nomination waiver for the Governor; Automatic Governorship slot for Obaseki; The State Deputy Governor, Phillip Shuaibu, may not be retained as Obaseki’s Deputy; No return to APC, if Obaseki wins the election; Collapse of Obaseki’s structure into the PDP, and accommodation of PDP members in his administration.
A top PDP source stated: “These terms excited Obaseki. This is why he wasted no time in saying that he would not contest his disqualification by the APC.
“We are yet to table all these conditions before the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee of PDP. But this may be fast tracked in the coming week.
“As for the Deputy Governor, there is no way we can hand over the party and Governorship ticket to Obaseki wholesale. We have to consider the interest of old members of PDP, by asking one of them to be running mate to Obaseki.”
The source admitted that PDP Leaders are weighing the options before the relevant organs of the PDP admit Obaseki.
Another party source said: “Our Leaders are weighing the options on whether or not to take a risk with Obaseki, but without plunging the party into a serious crisis.
“The truth is that PDP is not strong, and all the Aspirants that have emerged cannot match the electoral strength of APC. But getting Obaseki will add value to our challenge to the APC Candidate.
“Apart from incumbency factor, Obaseki has enough facts and figures to de-market the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is a factor in this forthcoming poll. He also has the war chest to confront the APC.
“Some of our Leaders, like ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, are being consulted. Some of our Governors have thrown their weight behind Obaseki. But not all the Governors and Leaders have bought into his candidature.
“The level we are, is to weigh the options, as to whether we should field him, because we cannot gloss over the allegations raised by the APC against Obaseki.
“Part of the options is legal advice on his eligibility. Some of our Leaders are also suspicious of his alleged plans to return to APC, if he wins the election.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Some Leaders have been covertly negotiating with Obaseki in the past few weeks, because it was obvious he would be disqualified.”
Another source said that following Friday’s announcement by the Leadership of the PDP, that it was willing to welcome Obaseki into its fold, and even give him a chance to seek the Gubernatorial ticket of the party, some prominent Chieftains of the party have swung into action, to avert what they see as a looming destructive error.
Highly placed party sources stated that after several weeks of considering what has become known within the party as the ‘Obaseki project’, a group of prominent party Leaders consisting of serving Governors and other Stakeholders on Friday, communicated their readiness to support the candidacy of the Governor, if he left for the PDP.
But not all of them initially bought into the project.
The source stated: “A good number of those in the group, a very powerful clique within the party for that matter, had before then distanced themselves from the Obaseki project, even as the Governor’s Lobbyists worked hard on them for their endorsement.
“A Governor from the South-South, who before now made it clear he would never support Obaseki as PDP Candidate, is now among those calling on the party in Edo State to consider giving him the ticket.
“Also, a former Chairman of the party, who constantly criticised Obaseki and foreclosed the possibility of the Governor joining the PDP and picking its Gubernatorial ticket, is said to have told his supporters that they may have no choice, but to back Obaseki, given the support he now enjoys among prominent party Leaders, especially at the national level.”