Seven governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State have stepped down for Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Mr Ize-Iyamu, a few hours ago, picked his governorship nomination forms at the APC national secretariat, Abuja.
A former deputy governor of the state is said to be among the aspirants that stepped down, paving the way for Mr Ize-Ayamu to emerge as the consensus candidate of a faction of the APC led by David Imuse, a retired army colonel.
The faction is loyal to the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who is locked in a fierce political battle with his erstwhile protégé, the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki.
A source within the APC in the state told PREMIUM TIMES that the seven candidates held a meeting on Tuesday where they took a decision to not only step down for Mr Ize-Iyamu, but to contribute money to buy the nomination forms for him.
The factional chairman of APC in the state, Mr Imuse, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Ize-Iyamu has been adopted as a “consensus” candidate of the APC.
“He was adopted (as) a consensus candidate yesterday,” Mr Imuse said. “He collected his nomination forms some hours ago.”
The party chairman said what has happened is a “welcome development” to the APC.
“It tells you the sense of unity in APC, for all the other aspirants to come together and present one aspirant for the primary. It shows the spirit of brotherliness and togetherness that APC is known for.”
Mr Ize-Iyamu, a former secretary to the Edo State government, was a chieftain of the APC before he left the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after he failed to secure Mr Oshiomhole’s support for his governorship ambition. He contested the 2016 Edo state governorship election as a PDP candidate and was defeated by Mr Obaseki of the APC.
His return to the APC has allegedly unsettled Mr Obaseki and the governor’s supporters.
The Oshiomhole-Obaseki political fight has created different factions of APC in Edo State
Mr Obaseki, who controls a faction of APC in the state, has indicated interest to run for a second term. He is likely to be adopted as a ‘consensus’ candidate by his own faction in a few days from now.
The governor has expressed his indifference to the method of primaries adopted by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in selecting its flag bearer for the 2020 governorship election in the state.
“It doesn’t matter whether it is direct or indirect primary, I will win because I know what we have done in Edo State,” Mr Obaseki said in a phone interview with Sunrise Daily presenters on Channels TV on Wednesday.
In a meeting on Thursday, the Adams Oshiomhole-led national working committee adopted a direct method of primary for its June 22 governorship primary election.
Commenting on the growing acceptance of Mr Ize-Iyamu in the party and his possible defection to the main opposition, PDP, in the state for ticket, Mr Obaseki said he is not disturbed in any way as “any contest would be no contest if it is not manipulated.”