Despite the apparent signals from Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo that his successor should emerge from Edo Central, his deputy, Phillip Shaibu, has maintained that he will seek the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2024 race as no zoning arrangement exits in the State.
Shaibu, who is from Edo North, is also adamant that he is in the governorship race because that is what his people want.
He has also said that as the incumbent deputy governor, he is the most prepared to succeed Obaseki because he will hit the ground running without having to learn on the job.
Shaibu spoke to select journalists at the weekend in Abuja, pressing for the next chief executive of the state to emerge from his zone for the sake of equity and justice.
Asked why he is insisting on becoming the governor at a time that sentiments in the state seem to favor a candidate from Edo Central, he explained: “I am not insisting on contesting. The ambition of becoming Deputy Governor was not mine but I made myself available. The ambition to be governor is still not mine but I am only making myself available.
“Don't forget that the destinies of the people are connected, interwoven. There is no convention in Edo State on the issue of zoning, politically, traditionally, or at conferences where we met to say this is how we want to have our politics zoned.
At the same time, I am an advocate of fairness and equity but whoever is talking about fairness and equity must come with clean hands.
“If you check the structures of those that have been governors in Edo State, there is nowhere you will see the issue of zoning. We had four Governors from Edo South, two from Edo Central and only one from Edo North.
When you look at the PDP, the party has never given its Governorship ticket to any candidate from Edo North.
“If I get the ticket of the PDP, I will be the first candidate of the PDP from Edo North since 1999.
Anyhow you look at it, equity and fairness show that Edo North should produce the next governor. When people want to whip up sentiments out of ignorance and perceived incompetence, they whip up ethnic and religious sentiments.
“If I become governor, I won't be governor of Afenmai. I will be Governor of Edo State. Edo people are in dire need of practical governance and we cannot afford to experiment again with someone who does not understand the politics and needs of Edo State.
“Everywhere including the international scene, people are clamouring that governments should not be pushing projects that are not needed. So, we need to do Needs assessment. You cannot know the needs of the people when you don't live with them.
“For me, competence and experience should be the watchword. Who is competent, more experienced and who will hit the ground running from day one if he becomes governor?
Are we going to experiment with a new person again and the person will spend the first four years learning on the job and the next four years trying to embezzle and set up businesses in the name of consolidating on his first term?
“We need a governor that from the day he is sworn in, he will hit the ground running. Someone who knows that today, you cannot travel from Jattu to Benin without spending a minimum of three to four hours.
We need someone whose priority would be how to collaborate with the Federal Government on this road so that one can go to Benin from Jattu within one hour, twenty minutes.
“I have been in the system. I understand the debt profile of Edo State and I know where I can get funding to put up structures in the state. I am not coming to learn on the job. I am not coming to experiment.
“The problem we have had in the system is that we have had too many seminars, workshops and seminars but there is no time to implement the outcome of these seminars.
“I saw when Osunbor was governor, I saw when Oshiomhole was governor, I worked with Obaseki as governor. I know the mistakes of them all. I also know the things that were beneficial to Edo State that Osunbor, Oshiomhole and Obaseki did.
“We will amplify the good things and not repeat the mistakes. You can only do this if you are a part of the system. This is the experience I am brining on board.”
Shaibu also insisted that he will contest the election under the PDP, noting that his consultations are still ongoing.
He further explained: “I am still consulting and in the coming days, the outcome of my consultation will be made public. My first option is PDP, second option is PDP and the third is PDP.
“PDP wants to win the election and it must win the election, the party needs to listen to the voice of the people. I am not contesting the election because of Philip Shaibu.
“I am contesting because Edo people say I should come out. If they are saying I should come out, their dictates is what I will follow. I have told them that I am a member of the PDP and I am sure that I will get the PDP ticket. They are mobilising for me to get the ticket.
“They have told me some parties I should not go to but I won't reveal that to you now. They have told me a particular party I must not go to.
I am a street man and even the governor will attest to the fact that I always preach the street message. I bring the street perspective to all our conversations. If I get the PDP ticket, the people will see my street credibility.
“I am not going into governorship to build estates. The only estate I owe my children is their education. Those who know me know that I am not a friend to bankers.
You saw the Oghieneni's Palace that we built in my area. I am a project-driven person. I have sunk boreholes, renovated many schools with private monies as deputy governor. I have built churches and mosques. I am not an advocate of keeping money in the banks. I have conscience, I am a Catholic.”