EDO GOVERNORSHIP: Oshiomhole, Obaseki’s men in fresh tussle over primaries

•APC Hq has adopted direct primaries — Wambai, National Vice Chairman
•Wambai can’t speak for Edo APC, says Ojezua; Wambai’s right — Imuse, Azebamwan
•PDP’s doors open to Obaseki, others — Ogidi

By Gabriel Enogholase, Ozioruva Aliu & David Odama

National Vice Chairman (North-Central), of the All Progressives Congress, APC,  Suleiman Wambai, has said that direct primary remains the best way to select APC’s governorship candidate in Edo State to avoid a repeat of what happened in Zamfara State where its candidates won elections in 2019 but were disqualified by the courts.

Wambai, who stated this yesterday, while speaking with newsmen in Lafia also explained that there are three available ways for candidates of the party to emerge in any state.

According to him, candidates can emerge through consensus, direct or indirect primaries depending on what the party considers as the best option in a given state.

“The leadership of the party at the state level has been empowered by the APC constitution to decide which mode of primaries to adopt in their state,” Wambai declared.

The party chieftain explained that the APC national headquarters has taken a position, which is direct primaries for the September 19 governorship election in Edo State because there are factions in the state.

“If you allow any of the factions to select the governorship candidate for the party in the state, it can be quashed by the courts just like it happened in Zamfara State during the 2019 elections. So to avoid the Zamfara episode, the party at the national level decided that direct primaries is the only option,” he added.

Wambai also explained that the leadership of the party wais working hard to attract more federal presence to the North-Central zone in terms of projects and appointments and pledged support of the zone to President Muhammadu Buhari’s developmental strides.

Wambai’s position on direct primaries elicited sharp disagreement from the two camps of the APC in Edo. While the faction loyal to APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, thumbed up the position, the faction backed by Governor Godwin Obaseki disagreed.

Wambai can’t speak for Edo APC – Ojezua

The faction supported by Governor Obaseki said the position of Wambai that the governorship primaries in Edo State would be direct as his personal opinion and not that of the party.

State chairman of the party, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, told Vanguard yesterday in Benin: “The method to be adopted in the governorship primaries will be the decision of Edo State APC.

“We will then transmit this to the national headquarters of the party. This is as far as I know. So, he is not in a position to speak on whether it will be direct or indirect method that the party will adopt in Edo State.”

Wambai is right – Imuse

However, Col. David Imuse, retd, the Edo State factional chairman of the APC loyal to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said what Wambai said is “the decision of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party which is constitutional. He only re-echoed that decision.”

Also, the Publicity Secretary, Chris Azebanmwan, said Wambai’s position is in line with the party’s constitution.

He said: “He interpreted the constitution of our party correctly in the sense that Article 13 (4) (14) of the APC constitution clearly vests the authority to decide who flies the flag of the party in any election. That clause says that the NWC shall conduct primaries to determine the candidate of the party for presidential, governorship, national assembly and state houses of assembly elections. It is a very clear mandate so it is not subject to the vagaries of individual interpretation.

“His pronouncement is totally in line with the constitution of the APC and we have said over and over again that anybody that seeks elective office must subject himself to primaries; even President Buhari subjected himself to primary

“Somebody who said he has done so well, that he is more popular than the party should not be afraid to subject himself to direct primaries which is actually the approval of the members of the party that he is supposed to have worked for. So why should anybody be afraid of direct primary? That is the most democratic approach for the emergence of party candidates.”

PDP’s doors open to Obaseki – Ogidi

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of the rumours making the rounds in Edo State that Governor Obaseki may dump the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to contest the September 19 governorship election, National Vice-Chairman of the PDP, South-South, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, has said that the doors of the party are open for every person who wants to come in.

Chief Ogidi was reacting to insinuations Governor Obaseki was already on his way to pick up the PDP governorship ticket following the adoption of direct primaries by his party, the APC. Ogidi said: “If Governor Obaseki decides to decamp to the PDP today nobody has any right to stop him. If they come in, we will welcome them. Our doors are open to them and we will allow them in but if any of them wants to contest any position they have to follow the party’s procedure because the party has a constitution.

“There is no automatic ticket for anybody no matter who you are or where you are coming from; you must follow the party procedures.”

Chief Ogidi, who was in Edo State to meet newly elected state executive members of the party, however appealed to the President Buhari to sign the electoral law as amended by the National Assembly to avoid what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi states elections that were characterized by violence, ballot-snatching, rigging and bloodletting.

He appealed to the Edo State executive to ensure that they reconcile all aggrieved members so as to work together as a team to win the September governorship election.

Also speaking with journalists at the end of the meeting, Edo State chairman of the party Dr. Tony Aziegbemi said the party is poised to reconcile all aggrieved members, saying, “we can only win the state governorship election if we come together as one.”

“We have resolved to reconcile with everybody and we have reached out to those who contested with us and are aggrieved. We will do our best to get the party back to Osadebey Avenue and this is what we promised our people.”

We don’t want bloodshed in Edo primaries, says Chief Imam

However, Chief Imam of Benin Central Mosque, Alhaji Abdufatah Enabulele, has said that Edo people do not want bloodshed during next month’s political parties’ primaries in the state, especially the APC.

The Edo APC governorship primaries will be held on June 22, while that of Ondo State is July 20.

Enabulele told NAN: “The Edo and Ondo elections are almost coming up at the same time, hence there is political tension in both states now due to their political differences.

“We are appealing that they should understand that it is God that gives power, which as Muslims, we put them in prayers during the Ramadan.

“President Buhari also has a big role to play in this regard. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and he is the most senior leader of the APC.

“The president must not be silent, he should use his powers and authority to ensure that there is equity and fair play during the primaries of these two states.

“Buhari should be able to call all the parties involved to order so that there will be peace and tranquility in Edo and Ondo states. For us in Edo, we have been enjoying peace and we want to continue in this regard.”


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