Edo Politics, And The Problem Of Ethnicity

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  • Youths tear apart Over 2016 governorship ticket

By Ehi Ekhator, Naija Center News

Edo State is one of the states in South-South of Nigeria, it has approximately 4million population. It is made of three major ethnic groups; the Binis, Esan and Afemai.

Map of Edo State
Map of Edo State

Benin City is the capital of Edo, the Bini speaking people occupy seven out of the 18 Local Government Area which make them the majority with 57.54% while others Esan has 17.14%, Afemai comprising of Etsako has 12.19%, Owan has 7.3% and Aoko Edo with 5.70%.

With the different ethnic groups, the state government devised a means to run a political formula in order to cater for its diversity. The agreement was that each ethnic will produce a governorship candidate in every 4-8 years.

In May 1999, Chief Lucky Igbinedion who originally belonged to Esan ethnic won the governorship election and was reelected in 2004-2007.

In May 2007, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor, who is from Esan ethnic was declared the winner and was challenged by Adams Oshiomhole (Etsako ethnic) who later won the seat through election tribunal in November 2008.

Oshiomhole was re-elected in 2012 after defeating Charles Airhiavbere (Esan ethnic) and his tenure is going to end in 2016.

Though the election for the governorship position is next year, the race has already begun by the suspected candidates who believe they are right for the job.

Due to the analysis above, the youths are divided on whose turn to be the next governor. While some believe ethnic politics should be abolished, the Binis who are the majority argued that they have supported the formula over the years even though it has not in anyways favoured them despite that they are the majority, therefore 2016 is their turn.

Commenting on the issue, Chairman and CEO, Franchise events Limited, Stephen Uwafiokun Obakpee stressed that it is time for the Binis to assume the office of the governor based on the formula.

He said “It will surprise you to know that, the Binis have never been involved in ethnic politics: we have always voted based on whose turn it is to govern. It is the new breed political naive Esan sons that love playing ethnic politics. Led by Chief Tony Anenih, their antics have seen Benin been robbed of her commerce by the diverting of traffic away from Benin through the Oluku bypass years ago.

“It is wrong for anyone to say that Binis want to be Governor come 2016. It is our turn to produce a Governor in 2016, based on the already existing political formula which, we could have truncated a long time ago due to our political might, but refused to because of our nature to adhere to agreement

“Esan through Osunbo ruled, then Afemai through Adams. Now it’s the turn of Bini. In 2024 it will be the turn of Esan. If they continue to do what they are doing now by always trying to rock the boat, then 2024 may be dicey for them.”

One of the potential candidates, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu said “It’s too early to speculate on the issue of zoning”

The candidates who have shown interest in running for the 2016 general election are:

Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri (Bini) Member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Iduoriyekemwen Mathew (Bini) Member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Osaigie Ize-Iyamu (Bini) Member of the Peoples Democeratic Party (PDP)
General Charles Airhiavbere (Esan) Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Kenneth Imansuagbon (Esan) All Progressive Congress (APC)
Pius Odubu (Esan) All Progressive Congress (APC)
Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi (Bini) All Progressive Congress (APC)
Osarodion Ogie (Bini) All Progressives Congress (APC)
Senator Ehigie Edobor Uzamere (Bini) Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

One of the candidates, Barr Kenneth Imansuagbon with a very high determination to be the next governor has already threatened to leave his party, APC should he not be given the governorship ticket.

According to NAIJA CENTER NEWS report, Imansuagbon complained of how he had been ill treated over the years towards clicking the governorship ticket, warning that if such should happen again, he will contest the governorship election through another political party.

Imansuagbon said “If I am not given the chance to run for governorship election in 2016, I will run under a different political party, I can assure you that. If the APC do not give me ticket, they will not win the election. I was not treated fairly in 2007 by AC, and I also left PDP after seeing the way the primaries was conducted in 2012. I supported Buhari because of the kind of men he is, if Buhari integrity is anything to come by, he won’t allow them screw the 2016 primaries”

According to information gathered from a senator representing Edo South, Ehigie Uzamere who is privy to the new arrangement, the Peoples Democratic Party has zoned the next governorship ticket to Edo South (Bini).

Uzamere said “PDP has since zoned the ticket to Edo South officially; this is coming from the party not me. The party leadership prefers Edo South, this is the zoning they prefer for now, I was not part of the committee that recommended Edo South.”

If Senator Uzamere revelation is anything to go by, it means that Kenneth Imansuagbon may be screwed again since he is from Esan ethnic.

A source who didn’t want to be named also revealed that the All Progressives Congress may favour the Esan people as Odubu, the present deputy governor who everybody believes may click the governorship ticket is an Esan man.

Judging from the list of potential candidates above, and the decision reached by the political parties to favour some ethnic groups over others, it is obvious that the battle ahead will tear friends apart, youths will go against one another, and this may further expand the distance between ethnic groups in the state.

Meanwhile, many of the youths are agitating for someone capable, who will bring rapid development to the state instead of zoning. The youth argued that it’s time to concentrate on Edo in general instead of political nepotism.

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