Friday Olokor and Sola Shittu
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki says the All Progressives Congress’ National Working Committee has no power to decide how the party governorship primary in the state will be conducted.
The primary has been scheduled to hold next month, with the governorship poll fixed for September.
The APC NWC headed by Adams Oshiomhole has ordered direct primary.
Obaseki has been locked in a fierce battle with Oshiomhole over the control of the party in Edo.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, on Friday, said the NWC could not take any decisions on the primary without the National Executive Committee of the party.
Obaseki said, “That report was a scoop, there was no meeting of the NWC in which the decision was taken. If the Oshiomhole camp is having it at the back of their minds that it is what they want to do, they don’t have the power to do that.
“The power to direct what kind of primary to do rests on NEC and NEC at the last meeting decided that because of the dissenting voices, all modes of primary should be decided by the different state chapters as it was done in Kogi and Bayelsa. In Kogi, for example, they determined the kind of primary they wanted, and in Bayelsa, the same thing happened.
“So, in Edo, the same method will be adopted, according to the rules of NEC. We will now write the NWC to say this is the mode of primary that we want.”
Osagie said a statement from a senior member of the party and former governor of the state (Chief John Odigie-Oyegun) had already confirmed that the President had adopted Obaseki and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, as the preferred candidates for the governorship elections unless they decided not to run.
The issue of the conduct of the primary has become a major topic among political observers in the state even as the various political groups strategise towards presenting a formidable aspirant against Obaseki in the primary.
Our correspondent learnt that the direct primary would involve all registered card-carrying members of the party in each council.
However, it remains unclear how the Edo APC’s direct primary will be conducted as the party remains fictionalised, with one side loyal to Obaseki and the other to Oshiomhole.
Meanwhile, a political analyst and former Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Julius Iyasele, said except something was done urgently to resolve the crisis, the state could be heading to anarchy.
He said, “I do not see how the primary will be conducted in such a way that a common candidate will be presented in the Edo governorship election as things are now. Both parties have remained adamant and stuck to their guns; the search for truce by sincere men in this matter has failed on many occasions. I am afraid we are heading for anarchy.”
INEC begins meeting with stakeholders on Edo, Ondo polls next week
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission says it will start meeting with Edo and Ondo election stakeholders from May 30. The Edo governorship poll has been scheduled for September 19 and the Ondo version for October 10.
INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, revealed these in a statement on Thursday night after the body’s meeting where the “Policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic” was approved.
According to him, INEC is planning for nine bye-elections in seven states in addition to the Edo and Ondo polls.
He said the bye-elections would hold in Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Imo North Senatorial District, Plateau South Senatorial District, Cross River North Senatorial District, and Nganzai State Constituency, Borno State.
Others are Bayo State Constituency, Borno State, Nasarawa Central State Constituency in Nasarawa State and Bakori State Constituency in Katsina State
Okoye said, “Citizens must be assured that they will be safe while participating as voters, candidates and officials.
Also, a faction of the Edo State chapter of the APC loyal to the National Chairman on Friday claimed it had uncovered plans by the state government to scuttle the party’s governorship primary.
In a letter by the factional Secretary of the party in the state, Lawrence Okah, and addressed to the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, the group, led by David Imuse, alleged that Obaseki had ordered the testing of “fictitious”300,000 persons for COVID-19 to announce fake positive results to use the development to scuttle the June 22 primary.
Okah said, “It has come to our notice that the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has concluded plans to scuttle the primary election of the All Progressives Congress scheduled to hold on June 22. The pretext is that if held, the primary election will escalate cases of COVID-19 in Edo.”