A group under the aegis of Concerned Esan Indigenes for Good Governance on Sunday declared that the General Cecil Esekhaigbe report should be thrown into archival dustbin as it’s satanic in nature and will not favor Edo Central.
This was contained in a statement issued and signed by its convener, Monday Isibor stating that:
“Concerned about the high number of governorship aspirants from Edo Central Senatorial District (Esan Land) some groups and individuals have, for months now, been appealing that some aspirants should step down in favour of stronger aspirants.
“This is in order to boost the chances of Esan persons getting their respective political party ticket and emerging as governor in 2024. Presumably to this end, General Cecil Esekhaigbe (Rtd), who is the leader of APC Edo Central, convened a screening exercise on 30th and 31st October in Abuja.
” At the end of the exercise, he promised to communicate the decision to the aspirants but surprisingly, the following morning the media was awash with conflicting lists of the report of the screening exercise.
“Initially, the General issued a disclaimer but when he eventually released his report about three weeks later it more or less tallied with a list that had been in circulation but which he denied.
“The list contained six names which were in the following order:
1. Rt. Hon. Festus Ebea
2. Senator Monday Okpebholo
3. Col. David Imuse Rtd
4. Hon. Victor Eboigbe
5. Rt. Hon. Thomas Okosun
6. Senator (Prof.) Oserheimen Osunbor.
“At a meeting he convened in Benin on Sunday 26 November 2023, he further reduced the number to three which he read out in his order of ranking, namely:
1. Hon. Festus Ebea
2. Senator Monday Okpebholo and
3. Col. David Imuse (Rtd).
“The other aspirants, he announced were disqualified by him. That report has been widely received with disquiet and outrage by keen observers.
“The public is advised to disregard the Gen. Cecil’s report in its entirety as a complete waste of time for the following reasons, among many others.
“By virtue of the APC Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates, the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress, the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gen. Cecil lack the power to screen aspirants, much less disqualify anyone.
“The panel members that conducted the screening were handpicked by the General without any input from the recognized organs of the party from the Ward, LGA, State, Zonal or National. He singlehandedly selected the members and made himself the Chairman.
” He wrote the report and handed it down to the select stakeholders that he personally invited to the meeting in Benin on 26th November.
“When members demanded that the report be debated, as is standard practice at political meetings, he bluntly refused. Many retired Generals and other military officers have proved to be outstanding politicians but this General has showed that he is yet to imbibe the tenets of democracy.
“In a move that defies explanation, he invited Dr. Washington Osa-Osifo, a governorship aspirant from Edo South to screen Edo Central aspirants and he participated actively in the exercise. Another member of the panel was Hon. Patrick Agwinede, who is a known supporter and spokesman for Hon. Dekeri Anamero (Danco), a governorship aspirant from Edo North.
“General Cecil has up till now failed to explain the criteria he used for the screening which made Hon. Festus Ebea, a former Deputy Speaker, to defeat Hon. Thomas Okosun, a former Speaker, former Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of Nigeria and former State Chairman of ACN.
“The same Hon. Ebea was rated higher than Prof. Osunbor, a respected national figure, a First-Class scholar, Professor of Law, two-term Senator and past governor of Edo State.
“In like manner, Sen. Monday Okpebholo who has spent only five months in the Senate was ranked second, beating Osunbor to sixth position. The question on everyone’s lips is how did General Cecil arrive at this bizarre result?
” Unless he provides credible answers to these questions the public may be left to believe the insinuations making the rounds, that the exercise was marred by monetary inducements by one of the aspirants who is said to have bank-rolled the entire exercise.
” Or it could be that the General merely used the exercise as a smokescreen to promote his own ambition by trading-off the popular clamour for a governor of Esan extraction in order to become a deputy to an aspirant from Edo North or Edo South.
” The public is strongly implored to disregard this senseless and shameful report purportedly coming from Edo Central. It is a blunder, useless and should be consigned as trash to the dustbin of history.
” The good people of Edo State deserve to be commended for the consensus which has emerged that the governorship should rotate to Edo Central this time. They should not allow self-serving individuals with a history of anti-party activities to change their patriotic resolve that the next governor should come from Edo Central. That Gen. Cecil report is a disservice to Esan people and the desire of Edo State people for power rotation as has become established at the national level and in many States”.