The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State has kicked against the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) to adopt direct primary for nominating the party’s candidate for the 2020 governorship election.
At a meeting in Abuja on Friday, the NWC led by the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, adopted the direct mode for the primary.
Direct primary means all card-carrying members of the party from the local government areas of the state will be eligible to vote in order to produce a candidate.
Speaking with reporters in Bein on Friday evening, Anselm Ojezua, the party’s chairman in Edo State, accused the NWC of imposing the direct method on the state as a means to target the governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Oshiomhole and Obaseki, who fell out midway into the tenure of the governor, have been in a race to outwit each other.
Ojezua said the NEC of the party had clearly stated that each state is at liberty to adopt any method it prefers.
Similarly, the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, said the NWC has no power to decide how the party governorship primary in the state would be conducted.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the NWC could not take any decisions on the primary without the National Executive Committee of the party.
“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,” Obaseki said.
Osagie added that 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 governorship primary is slated to hold on June 22, while the election is expected to hold on September 19.
The NEC of the party also granted a waiver to Osagie Ize-Iyamu, governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2016, to partake in the primary.
Ize-Iyamu had defected to the APC in the heat of the crisis between Obaseki and Oshiomhole. He is believed to have the backing of the APC national chairman.
Recall that in the buildup to the 2019 elections, the APC in Lagos State adopted direct primary, which saw Akinwunmi Ambode, the incumbent governor, lost the governorship ticket.
Ambode had described direct primary as “the beginning of a revolution about the deepening of democracy in Nigeria.”
He, however, lost to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who clinched the ticket and went ahead to win the election.