The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to announce the time table for next year’s governorship election in Edo State. But, politicians have started indicating interest to contest against Governor Godwin Obaseki. The tension in the state is such that the election seems to be holding next month.
Political parties where candidates have indicated interest to contest the election are the Accord Party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). A United States based businessman, Clement Eranomigho Edegbe, who has joined the Accord Party, is mulling to run for governor, General Charles Airhiavbere has said he would run against Obaseki for the APC ticket while an educationist, Kenneth Imasuangbon, said he would run on the PDP platform.
Imasuangbon, popularly known as the ‘Rice man’ has been regarded as an unlucky politician in Edo State. His previous three attempts to clinch the coveted seat has been unsuccessful, despite his influence among party members and philanthropic activities.
Imasuangbon is known for distribution of rice to thousands of people during festive seasons. He organised annual quiz competitions for secondary school students across the state where he distributed i-pads and money to lucky winners. Medical bills for indigent patients are usually paid for those that were held back for inability to pay bills.
It was in 2007 that Imasuangbon first indicated interest to run on the platform of the defunct Action Congress (AC). He financed the activities of the party during its formative years, including payment for secretariat and donation of chairs. The entrance of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole into the race made him to step down.
In March 2009, Imasuangbon left the AC for a fractured PDP. The PDP then was in tatters as it was factionalised between those loyal to late Chief Tony Anenih and late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia. Imasuangbon held a reconciliatory rally at Ewohinmi where he brought both leaders together to shake hands, but the two leaders parted ways after the rally.
Imasuangbon contested the PDP primary, but he lost to General Charles Airhiavbere by polling 178 votes. Other aspirants, including Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, Prof Oserheimen Osunbor and Matthew Iduoriyikemwen, left the venue in protest. Imasuangbon rejected the results of the primary and called it scientifically and environmentally rigging tailored by Chief Dan Orbih.
After losing the primary, Imasuangbon was courted by both the PDP and then Governor Adams Oshiomhole for support at the polls.
He said: “It is true that Chief Tony Anenih came to my house. It is also true that Governor Adams Oshiomhole came to see me but it goes beyond Chief Anenih and the governor. This election is about the future of our children and the future of the state. We will do what is right. This goes beyond party line. What is on trial is about schools that are not working and job creation. This will sharpen my idea on the way to go. We will look at all options and the best options will be taken in the best interest of the people.”
In January 2015, Imasuangbon joined the APC at his ward in Ewohimi, Esan South East Local Government Area. He contested for the governor against Obaseki, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Charles Airhiavbere, Pius Odubu. Obaseki won.
Imasuagbon and Ogiemwonyi rejected the results, alleging that the printer worked in connivance to rig the poll. They alleged that the smuggling of non-delegates into the venue to vote and the direct interference in the voting process by Governor Oshiomhole were part of measures to ensure victory for Obaseki.
Last year, Imasuangbon returned to the PDP to support the presidential ambition of Governor Aminu Tambuwal. He defected alongside 500 of his supporters.
His words: “The APC will soon be history in Nigeria. I refused to remain in the APC because of hunger in the land.
“I am back home. This is a new dawn for the PDP in Edo State. There is nothing to celebrate in this country.”
Imasuangbon is a big fish no political party wants to miss. His entrance in the governorship race has altered the political calculation in the PDP. No zoning arrangement has been announced by the party’s leadership, but the party may zoned the ticket to Edo South. This means Imasuangbon may be contesting for the ticket against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Senator Matthew Urhoghide and others. The coming months will tell, if Imasuangbon would become the next Buhari to win election after four trials.