Edo: No Going Back On Direct Primary As Buhari Meets Oshiomole
POLITICS DIGEST– To Stop the crisis ravaging the All Progressives Congress, APC, especially in Edo State, from blowing out of control and hurting the party’s chances at the September 19 governorship poll in Edo, President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed to wade into the matter. The move was one of the decisions taken at a meeting between President Buhari and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who visited and informed the President of his decision to seek re-election, yesterday.
Following Obaseki’s visit to Aso Villa yesterday, the President had assured him of intervening in the crisis. The source, who was at the meeting, said: “The President has intervened in the crisis between Governor Obaseki and Oshiomhole. The President equally promised to meet with the APC national chairman.” Governor Obaseki has been at daggers-drawn with his immediate predecessor and APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, over his re-election bid. The feud has led to factionalization of the APC in Edo to two camps. The camp backed by Obaseki is in favour of indirect primary, while the other camp loyal to Oshiomhole is insisting on direct primary as approved by the National Working Committee, NWC, of the APC.
On Sunday, Governor Obaseki and seven other APC governors met National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at State House, Lagos, over the issue. Sources at the meeting said the former Lagos State governor was in favour of direct primary. It would be recalled that Lagos APC backed by Tinubu, used direct primary to stop immediate past governor of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, from getting APC’s re-election ticket in 2019. From the Lagos State House meeting, some APC governors met with the party’s NWC, yesterday, where Comrade Oshiomhole insisted that the party would go ahead with the direct method of voting during its June 22 governorship primary in Edo State.
Oshiomhole spoke shortly after a closed-door meeting with seven governors of the party, an action party sources said is a continuation of efforts to resolve all disputes ahead of the forthcoming primary of the party in Edo State. The Obaseki and Oshiomhole feud is threatening the party’s chances of victory in the September poll. It is to be seen whether or not President Buhari’s intervention will stem the tide. Before President Buhari agreed to intervene both parties talked tough. While Oshiomhole insisted on direct primary to elect Edo governorship standard bearer, Obaseki said his relationship with Oshiomhole is still frosty, adding that the APC Chairman was being misled by some people. Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, asked parties that want to conduct direct primaries to submit their membership registers. Some of those opposed to APC holding direct primary in Edo and Ondo claimed that the party’s membership register has issues.
APC Govs meet with NWC The governors were led to the meeting by the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State. Others at the meeting are Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq (Kwara) and Muhammed Inuwa (Gombe). Aside Oshiomhole, the National Organizing Secretary of the party, Emma Ibediro; National Vice Chairman North-East, Mustapha Salihu; Acting National Secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama and others were at the parley. Addressing journalists after the meeting, Oshiomhole said the party leadership had a “very helpful conversation” with the governors. “We had a very helpful conversation. You know it is one APC. There are no two APCs. So, interacting and interfacing with our governors is something that is part of our tradition, it is not something we have just invented and today’s discussion was particularly helpful.
“So, we are very grateful to the chairman and members of the Progressive Governors Forum who have come all the way. What binds us together is so strong that Coronavirus cannot put asunder. Direct primary “We have since published our time-table because under the law, we are required to give INEC at least 21 days notice to monitor our primaries and to state the mode of our primaries and of course NWC, had approved direct primaries for Edo. That of Ondo has not been discussed because that will come much later. Edo will come about three weeks before Ondo. “We have commenced the sale of forms and I think as of last Friday, to my knowledge three people had picked the forms. I think by today more people would have picked the forms. So we are selling forms to all those who wish to buy based on the guidelines and of course as the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum rightly said, we have ensured in our letter to INEC and even this morning we had a virtual meeting with INEC leadership, and we will conduct primaries, taking into account the protocols on COVID-19 by the PTF and NCDC. I think everything is going fine. “You know that Governors are assets to our party and once a candidate emerges, we all work and ensure that we do our best to persuade the people in the respective states to favour us with their votes and I am sure that by the special grace of God, the Ondo Governor is here, he did well and the electorate are more sophisticated now. So we have no fear about that. “Obaseki is not here but issues of primaries are well spelt out in our constitution and we are following it as strictly as possible. So nothing to worry about at all.” Asked to confirm whether he had received a letter from the Edo governor stating his preference for Indirect Primary, Oshiomhole said: “You are speculating, I don’t have any letter or document to that effect. These are very formal matters. So, let us not spread rumours.” Chairman of the PFG and Governor of Kebbi state, Atiku Bagudu said “the meeting between the national leadership of our party with the Progressives Governors Forum was to discuss issues that have piled up especially between March 14 when the forum last met and agreed to meet with the national working committee under the able leadership of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole to discuss issues of interest to our party.” “Within the intervening period, many things have happened. We had a virtual conference where we commiserated with Mr President because of the challenges caused by the COVID-19 situation. We also undertook that the delegation will visit Lagos to express sympathies with the Lagos people and our colleague for the able leadership he has provided. We met with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and also met with our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to discuss developments in the polity particularly as they affect our party. So, yes, a delegation was in Lagos but this meeting was not a continuation of yesterday’s (Lagos) meeting. This is a meeting with the national leadership of our party to discuss issues between the Governor’s Forum and party leadership that will lead to the progress of our party. “On Edo, Ondo elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rolled out a time table and the national chairman is in a better position to speak on that,” he stated. The person contesting APC ticket lives in Abuja —Obaseki Speaking to State House Correspondents after presenting his Expression of Interest Forms to contest the APC primary to President Buhari, Governor Obaseki expressed optimism that he would thrash his opponent in direct or indirect primary. The Governor also said that his relationship with Oshiomhole is still frosty, stating that the APC Chairman was misguided by some people. Asked why he was at the State House, he said: “I came to see Mr. President to formally inform him of my desire and intention to seek re-election as governor of Edo State on the platform of APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections. As the father of our country, as our President, we should not assume or take things for granted. I have to formally come to inform him and solicit his support for my gubernatorial bid. “I believe having been governor of the state for three years, you can check with the Edo people whether as governor I have served creditably. I have served the people of Edo. “The consensus is that we have done well as a government and that people would like us to continue with the laudable programmes and policies which we have been undertaking in the last three years. If you recall, when I got into power as Governor, one thing Edo was noted for was human trafficking. We had over 30,000 of our citizens who were in Libya waiting to cross into Europe. In less than three years we have stopped that. “We are celebrated globally, across the continent in terms of the reforms we have undertaken in basic education in this country. Those children, I can’t abandon them, we can stock what we have achieved till date.