From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin

Deacon Darlington Okpebholo Ray, a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has stated that the Esan people of Edo Central will not compromise competency for mediocrity in the upcoming governorship election, despite having two sons from the region vying for the position.

Okpebholo Ray, speaking on the election and its implications for the state’s progress, noted that the All Progressive Congress (APC) initially faced uncertainty regarding their candidate selection. While several notable Esan individuals with proven integrity and competence expressed interest, including former governor Prof Osehreimen Osunbor and former ministers Dr Mike Onolememen and Engr. Gideon Ikhine, the party opted for a screening process.

This decision, according to Okpebholo Ray, raised concerns among some political observers who saw it as an attempt to circumvent the choice of the Esan people. He alleged that the screening process, led by retired General Cecil Esekhaigbe, was designed to eliminate strong contenders like Osunbor, Onolememen, and Ikhine, leaving only Senator Monday Okpebholo in the race.

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Meanwhile, the PDP faced minimal resistance in selecting Asue Ighodalo, a professional economist and top corporate lawyer, as their candidate. Okpebholo Ray highlighted the stark contrast between the two candidates, emphasizing Ighodalo’s strong track record of success and leadership compared to Okpebholo’s lackluster performance as a senator.

He pointed to Ighodalo’s experience as chairman of notable companies, his grassroots political engagement, and his involvement in Nigerian economic development initiatives as evidence of his deep understanding of business and community needs. Conversely, Okpebholo has been criticized for his failure to deliver meaningful development and his alleged focus on personal gain through scheming and deceptive politics.

Okpebholo Ray argued that Ighodalo’s proven track record, credibility, and trustworthiness make him better equipped to govern Edo State effectively. He emphasized that the Esan people will not sacrifice Ighodalo’s competence and proficiency for the sake of mediocrity.