Today, several notables are emerging as aspirants for the top position in Edo State. Those worth mentioning out of the pack are three powerful candidates briefly described in a sequence reflective of their chances. Elder Odion Ugbesia, the ex-minister of Solid Minerals that resigned from his ministerial position to focus on state-level politics. Also a former lecturer from Edo Central, he is the twin brother to Akhere Ugbesia a member of the state House of Assembly. Ugbesia stands a formidable chance at winning the governorship race. He is Anenih’s protégé and has been very loyal to Anenih. He is not highly liked based on popular opinions and is viewed as one with moderate intelligence despite his repository of accomplishments. Criticized strongly by his ministerial replacement Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili for poor leadership and near catastrophic performance, he is however skilled in the game of politics. A grassroots campaigner and a die-hard fighter, he has been a lecturer, a commissioner and is perhaps the one to beat in 2007.
Elder Odion Ugbesia
A native of Ubiaja and from the region that has the governorship position zoned to it , he may well be the next governor. Ugbesia knows the intricate game of politics. He has gained tremendously from Anenih’s coaching and has mastered the symbiotic fluidity of knowing how to break barriers, penetrate zones and gain support. He patterns his style so delicately to avoid unnecessary feud while positioning himself pace fully to achieve his goal of stepping into the state house. He has a moderate influence on some members of the Edo State Assembly and is one that knows how to steadily position himself for the governorship seat that dearly needs a leader to fix the pockets of corruptive decay that will be left of Edo State in 2007.
Ugbesia’s strongest competitor is Professor Oserheimen Aigberadion Osunbor from Iruekpen. At 54 years of age he is noted as a humble, intellectually smart man who earned a first class in Law from Nsukka. He holds a Ph.D in Law and is a highly regarded and commendable scholar. Also a protégé of Chief Anenih, he is perhaps the next strongest candidate for the governorship position. It is actually a toss up between Ugbesia and Osunbor. They are both very qualified but have to battle each other as the PDP central figure Highly supported by Stella Obasanjo prior to her death, Osunbor may not have the hidden political meritocracy and guidance from Abuja powerhouse as Anenih can only ultimately place his support in one shop and that is likely going to be with Elder Ugbesia. Despite his popularity as a Senator, the game is different at the state level. Also from the zoned district of Edo Central; he stands a solid chance of winning if Ugbesia fails to win the PDP governorship nomination or if events preclude the chances of Ugbesia thereby creating a window of opportunity for others.
Prof. Julius Ihonvbere from Edo North. A smart and respectful man that could create a positive difference and return the state to a level of minimal acceptance. Despite his commendable resume and potential, he may not have the grand and giant political ability to win in a complex system where godfatherism, money, influence and gang grassroots control play a crucial role. Also, he is not a PDP figure and that per se may be his biggest undoing.
Beside the above three key candidates from which, we know a governor will emerge, are a few others that may have a benign influence but stands very little chance unless a miracle happens. They are Adams Oshiomhole from Estako and president of the Nigeria Labor Congress, Matthew Urokhide, a Pharmacist, that aspires to run under the ANPP that stands no chance due to power of incumbency of a political party and Barrister Ken Imasuagbon from Ewohimi in Edo Central, who was once a member of PDP but deflected to ACD hoping to get the governorship nomination after his inability to re-register as a PDP member.
It is important to ask what these candidates hope to accomplish in a state that is decayed. It may be important to request information on the knowledge of these aspirants as it relates to transformational leadership which, is what is required in Edo State come 2007. The deep, fundamental shift required to turn things around in the state can only be achieved by a devoted, well-intended person with a mindset, belief system, attitude and desire that is truly focused on the redemption of the State. The cruxes of concern of the people of Edo State are many recognizing the failure of Lucky Igbinedion. In my role, I will research in-depth, each of the candidates and specifically present my findings in the number one most commendable newspaper that continue to “uphold public trust” in Edo State, “The Catalyst.” In preparing for 2007 it is important to note that those that have shown little desire to improve the needs of the populace will not change when they get into power and as such we must weed them out. In the words of Groucho Marx “He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”