Edo 2020: APC govs fail to save Obaseki

Written by on June 16, 2020

Efforts of governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to secure a soft-landing for Governor Godwin Obaseki have hit a brick-wall, if outcome of party leaders’ meeting with Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, are anything to go by.

Obaseki, seeking a second term has been disqualified from participating in the June 22 primary of the APC. Some members of the APC National Working Committee, NWC, met with Gambari, yesterday and elected to go ahead with direct primary for the three governorship aspirants cleared by the screening committee.

Exiting the meeting, APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said being an incumbent does not guarantee victory at polls, adding that APC will win the governorship election.

He hoped that Obaseki, considered to be on his way to the PDP, will remain in the APC and allow the party conduct direct primary. Edo State COVID-19 law prohibits gatherings of more than 20 persons in a place. Oshiomhole said he should allow APC especially after allowing PDP to hold ward congresses.

This happened on a day elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, asked Obaseki to defect to PDP to continue his good programmes for Edo, just as the opposition party said Obaseki would not be given automatic ticket.

Incumbency doesn’t guarantee victory – Oshiomhole

Fielding questions on speculations that Governor Obaseki was planning to defect to the PDP

Comrade Oshiomhole, said that all was set for conduct of the party’s primaries for the three aspirants cleared by the Screening Committee on June 22.

Speaking to State House correspondents after a meeting between the National Working Committee, NWC, and Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Oshiomhole said that the party is optimistic that Governor Obaseki as a party member will allow conduct of direct primaries in all wards in the state next week.

Asked if the APC was not worried that Governor Obaseki might be given ticket by the PDP, he said, “All those who decamped with Saraki, all lost. Those who did not decamp, Bauchi, Adamawa, sitting governors lost.

“Even Governor Kayode Fayemi, as a sitting governor, was defeated by (Ayodele) Fayose so there is no evidence that being a sitting governor guarantees you victory; it all depends on the local sentiments in the state.”

Asked whether the party is prepared for the primaries, he said: “We have gone a long way. We have advertised the time-table, there was the stage of collection of forms and about six people collected forms. In that time-table we also provided for screening and we also provided for appeals arising from the screening.

“This is standard practice that the NWC has adopted since 2015 and in the case of Edo, we have completed the process of selling forms, we have also completed the process of screening, we have completed the process of appeals arising from the screening by those who wish to take advantage and the NWC has met and has reviewed the report of the screening committee.

“We were unanimous that the screening was thoroughly done and found that three people were eligible to contest, with regard to the provisions of our constitution.

“We have these three gentlemen on parade to contest the primaries, which has been slated for the 22nd of June, in line with the provisions of our Constitution, we will do direct primaries. It’s more democratic, less susceptible to corrupt practices and it makes the party to be membership-driven.

“It’s always for me something interesting that after you have picked your candidate by a handful of elites, you’ll now organise a rally to introduce to the members who is going to contest an election. They are supposed to bring the members to us and we can only achieve that through direct primaries.

“So we are doing everything possible, having completed the issue of screening and we have upheld the result of the screening committee, we are proceeding now to conduct the primaries, God willing, on the 22nd of June in Edo State.”

Asked if any of the disqualified aspirants appealed their disqualification, he said that one of the aspirants approached the Appeal Committee, but the disqualification was upheld but he declined to mention the name of the aspirant.

‘No repeat of Bayelsa error’

He said: “One person appealed his disqualification and he had ample opportunity to approach the Appeal Committee and even with the benefit of coming with his lawyer because this time, because of what happened in Bayelsa, we have decided that we have to be very strict.
“There are always two issues that lead to disqualification after elections, as you saw in Bayelsa, we won the election, but for technical reasons, we lost it at the Supreme Court.

“We have decided we should look at the composition of the committee, we have very senior lawyers, professors of law, we have various professors who should be familiar with the issues of certificate, because those are always the booby traps; whether there are impunities or contradictions or forged documents.

“Then we have lawyers who have handled election matters, they know the issues that people can raise. Once you have filed your nomination because the courts have said INEC cannot screen candidates, the power to screen candidates, is exclusively that of the party. So if the party mismanaged the process and they produce someone who has a fake certificate or multiple age or issues of spelling, those lawyers know what can lead to disqualification.

“So we have confidence in the report they gave us, but in line with our democratic practice and as stated in our Constitution, they also had an opportunity to make an appeal and that opportunity was provided. One of them took advantage of it, unfortunately he wasn’t successful.

Also asked if the APC was ready for Governor Obaseki’s exit, he said, “I don’t know about exit. What we see from your media, electronic and print, is that he visited a number of PDP governors.

“We read from electronic and print that those consultations may have to do with his plan and so on. But we are not here to speculate. Our party is not a party of big men. It is governed by rules. Both the small and the big are subjected to that rule.

“I’m sure you will agree that our President led by example when we conducted direct primary in the last presidential election. We still went to Eagle Square for affirmation. So, if the President did not have the right of first refusal because our Constitution does not provide for it, we cannot under any circumstances now bend the rules when it comes to some people and change the rule when it comes to others.”

‘Obaseki’ll allow us hold primaries’

On whether the law by the state government will not affect the conduct of the primaries, he said: “In the face of that law, we saw last week, and I’m sure you guys are very vigilant, that the PDP conducted ward congresses to elect their delegates that will go to the stadium.

“With that, you start to reason whether people can gather up to 5,000 in a stadium. Can you achieve social distancing with 5,000 people in one location? Can you rather have a situation where you don’t carry people from villages to the centre?

“If they vote in their respective wards, you will not have more than 100 to 150 persons queuing to vote and maintain social distancing, and wear face masks. So, we will find a way round it.

“He is our governor. We are law abiding. But if PDP can conduct activities across 192 wards with the same law, I don’t think our governor will discriminate against his own party. So, we are hopeful that everything will be peaceful.”

Present at the meeting with Gambari were National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu; National Treasurer, Adamu Fanda; National Vice Chairman, North Central, Ahmed Sule; and National Welfare Secretary, Ibrahim Masari; and Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu,

No automatic ticket for Obaseki, says state PDP chairman

Barring last-minute change of heart, Governor Obaseki is expected to defect to the PDP tomorrow, in time for the party’s primary scheduled for June 19 and 20.

However, the opposition party insists that there would be no automatic ticket for Obaseki.

Edo Sate chairman of the PDP, Mr. Tony Aziegbemi said there will be no automatic ticket for Obaseki.

“There is nothing like automatic ticket for anybody; it is like that in any democratic environment. There is a process as laid down by the constitution of the party and that we will follow.

“But I can confirm to you that the governor, his deputy and the entire All Progressives Congress structure in the state will be joining the PDP soon. We have been in touch in the last few days, by tomorrow (today), I will be able to confirm the exact date he will be joining with his team.”

On reports that Obaseki has obtained PDP membership form in his Ward 4, Oredo Local Government Area, Aziegbemi said: “I am not aware of that yet.”

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