0Supporters of All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirants in Edo State yesterday traded bribery accusations as voting by delegates for the party’s flag bearer got underway at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin.
No one was willing to own up to receiving money from anyone.
They only whispered that various sums were changing hands for the purpose of influencing the delegates.
Two of the aspirants- Kenneth Imasuagbon and Chris Ogiemwonyi – caused a stir mid way into the voting when they asked Governor Adams Oshiomhole to stop moving around the stadium.
The lawmaker representing Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason, dismissed the allegations of purchase of Permanent Voter Cards for the primary as regular rhetoric.
“In any election, you must hear that; it has become part of politicking in this country. In any case, I am not sure we are going to use the PVC to vote. So, what is the relevance of the PVCs now?” he said
“As far as I am concerned, it is totally inconsequential. It is a secret ballot; you will not follow anybody to where he will vote,” he said after casting his vote.
Voting commenced at 5.30pm with Governor Adams Oshiomhole leading delegates from Edo North to cast their votes.
The governor voted at 5.33pm.
A total of 2,582 delegates were accredited to elect the party’s flag bearer in the September 10, 2016 election.
On the ballot box yesterday were Deputy Governor Pius Odubu, head of the governor’s economic team –Mr. Godwin Obaseki, former Minister Chris Ogiemwonyi, rtd General Charles Airhiavbere, Kenneth Imasuangbon, Blessing Agbomhere, Peter Esele, Oserheimen Osunbor, Tina Agbarha, Austin Emuan, Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula and Professor Ebegbue Amadasun.
Voting was in progress at press time.
Speaking shortly before the commencement of voting, the Chairman of the Electoral Committee and Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Aminu Masari urged peace by everyone and said there would be no winner and no loser after the election.
Alhaji Masari said it was the expectation of the party’s leadership that other aspirants support whoever emerged victorious at the primaries.
He noted that the acceptance of the outcome of the primaries by the aspirants would be a demonstration of leadership.
Masari warned that any ballot paper without his signature would not be accepted.
His words, “We have told the aspirants that we will implement the guidelines to the latter. We will be fair to all. Whoever emerges should know that he will need other to face the general elections.”
“Anybody who votes is free to leave.”
Midway into the voting, Imasuagbon, Ogiemwonyi demanded that Gov. Oshiomhole should return to his seat instead of moving around the stadium.
Other aspirants such as Comrade Peter Esele, Austin Emuan, Tina Agbarha, Professor Oserheinmen Osunbor, Blessing Agbomhere, were calm and remained glued to their seats.
Imasuagbon first charged to the open field when his agent informed him that one Prince Joe Okojie and the Governor were moving around.
He told the Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, to ask Governor Oshiomhole to return to his seat.
Ogiemwonyi joined in the fray saying: “Do you know how much I have spent? The Governor should go to his seat”.
Imasuagbon said he has spent a lot of money in buying rice and he has to protect his interest.
An agent to Prof. Osunbor, Friday Musa raised the alarm that the name of one of the delegates that just voted was not contained in the list.
A former Commissioner for Basic Education, Patrick Aguinede, also claimed that a woman leader from Esan West was cleared to vote after presenting an affidavit.
Observers believe the race is a straight one between Obaseki who is touted to enjoy the backing of the governor; Deputy Governor Odubu; and Ogiemwonyi.
Obaseki who hails from Benin is described as the engine room of the governor’s economic drive and human resources development.
Odubu is also from Benin and says he is the most experienced of the lot seeking the ticket, while Ogiemwonyi flaunts his integrity.
He served briefly as Minister of State for Works under President Goodluck Jonathan before he defected to the APC.