The re-election bid of Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has divided major political blocs among the people of Esan, one of the largest ethnic groups in the state, SaharaReporters has learnt.
A group known as Association of Esan Professionals allegedly made up of close friends of Governor Obaseki, had declared total support for him, angering other political blocs in Edo Central, who feel the Peoples Democratic Party candidate does not merit their support judging by his performance in office in terms of service delivery to the people.
Kicking against the adoption of Obaseki as candidate of Esan people, another group, Coalition of Esan Development Forum, accused the AEP of supporting the incumbent for selfish gains.
In a statement, spokesperson for the CEDF, Kenneth Edewele, said that they were worried about the future of democracy in Esanland as a result of recent developments.
The statement reads, “At the onset of the purported endorsement of Governor Obaseki, the Esan Professionals sold a dummy to the people that former Governor Adams Oshiomhole was actually an enemy of their people because he could not produce an Esan governor or deputy in 2016.
“As the dusts begin to settle, Esan Professionals were unveiled as a group of elites working to create a cabal so as to control, bargain and distribute power in Esan land.
“When Oshiomhole was campaigning for his second term in Edo State, he had so many projects to campaign with than Obaseki now.
“Most of the road projects used for campaign by Governor Obaseki today were actually started by Oshiomhole and because they required continuity, the people voted Obaseki to carry on from where his predecessor stopped.
“Records also emerged that Esan Professionals have been working behind the scene to bring Obaseki into PDP since 2019, when they made him support PDP candidates against his party, APC candidates.
“Obaseki provided funds for the House of Assembly candidates of PDP across Esan Central. Though they all lost the election, he decided to punish 14 of them by shutting them out of the midnight inauguration of the state's House of Assembly as his preparation for what is happening today.
“If Esan Professionals could not pressure the governor to rescind his decision and allow peace to reign in the state, that means they were part of the imbroglio right from the onset. Some of the legislators-elect represented Esan people. In whose interests are Esan Professionals working for?"
Edewele revealed that a few leaders, who are bent on Obaseki, had collected huge sums of monies and SUV cars that allegedly came with the governor into PDP.
He added, “If they meant well for the people, they would have insisted that Governor Obaseki picked an Esan person as his deputy against Philip Shuaibu just as Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu did when he chose John Yakubu as deputy in 2016 under PDP to justify their so-called Esan agenda.
“Truth is, there was never any negotiation but a fanfare because they were all happy that Obaseki had come with money for them. But the people are wiser."
Obaseki kicked off his re-election campaign in Benin on Saturday.
He defected to the PDP from the All Progressives Congress after a fall out with former National Chairman of the party, Oshiomhole, whom he succeeded in office as governor.
The build up to the September 19 governorship election in Edo has indeed stirred up all sorts of controversies with many fearing that violence could blur the conduct of the exercise.