•APC used indirect primary in 2016, nothing has changed
FORMER Commissioner for Information in Edo State, and a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Charles Idahosa, in this interview, spoke on Edo politics, the controversies trailing the mode of primary to be adopted in producing APC governorship candidate and why the party should retain the template used in 2016. Excerpts:
His take on whether Edo APC should adopt direct or indirect primary to select its governorship candidate
It is very clear that primary is a domestic issue of a political party. There is a Supreme Court judgement on that. Some party leaders are just out to do a lot of destruction just like they did in Zamfara and other states. What surprises me most is that all the leaders of the party are just waiting for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to destroy the fabrics of the democracy of APC. Why they are doing that, I don’t know.
When people try to change story to suit themselves, it is very painful. Everybody is aware that on the issue of Edo State, Oshiomhole is a principal actor. In fact, he is an interested party in this matter. He wants Governor Godwin Obaseki out at all cost even though the wider majority believes that the governor has performed well.
Oshiomhole was governor in Edo state when Obaseki contested the governorship primary in 2016.
The method used was indirect primary and it was held at the Ogbeh stadium, supervised by Oshiomhole himself. I remembered then that the people with Oshiomhole now were abusing him, telling him that he was influencing the outcome of the primary because he wanted Obaseki to win.
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There was no COVID-19 then but he used indirect primary. Why he is now calling for direct primary at a time we are all trying to stop the spread of coronavirus in the state?
Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has spoken and he advised that Oshiomhole should excuse himself. As national chairman of the party, Oyegun never supported Obaseki but he did not interfere in the process; he did not disturb Oshiomhole from doing whatever he wanted to do then.
On insinuations that Governor Obaseki and his loyalist are afraid of direct primary because he is not popular with party members
In Edo State, we don’t care if it is direct primary or indirect. What we are saying is fairness. If Oshiomhole is involved whether direct or indirect, there is going to be problem because he is biased, and he is a major part of the crisis rocking Edo APC today. He should explain to the world, how he brought Obaseki in as APC candidate in 2016. Was it not through indirect primary? Now, he wants all of us to go and crowd ourselves in all our local governments just because he wants Obaseki out at all cost.
The reason he is insisting on direct primary is because it is very easy to manipulate. I have a very good example. I contested the governorship primary with Oshiomhole in 2007. He was barely 10 days old in the Action Congress, AC, then and I defeated him hands down. But what happened? They changed the result. These were results you bring from different locations so it is very easy for the people at the party headquarters to change it. Those who did the injustice are alive and they have apologised to me.
On why he thinks that Oshiomhole will not be fair in supervising the primary
The situation has been revealed to us by the Deputy National Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu, who said last week that Oshiomhole personally constituted both the screening committees for the governorship and senatorial elections, as well as the final appeals committee, all in violation of the extant constitutional provisions of the party vesting the power in the National Executive Committee, NEC.
He said Oshiomhole also made himself the chairman of the appeals committee so that he can have the final say. I repeat, we are not afraid of direct or indirect primary, but we are concerned about fairness. If Oshiomhole is allowed to be a judge in his own case, there will be no fairness. That is all we are saying. Oshiomhole should excuse himself from the primary in order to ensure justice and fairness. That is our position.
We will not fold our hands and allow Edo go to the opposition like Oshiomhole is doing. That was how Oshiomhole harassed Governor Samuel Ortom until the man left APC and contested under PDP. Today, he remains the governor of Benue under PDP platform.
Is that what a national chairman who knows his onions be wishing for? Few days ago, he was asked what his problem with Obaseki was. He said he had no problem with the governor and he only wants him to carry everybody along. Meanwhile, he was busy organising mock primary that later resulted in violence. As a former governor, he is not concerned about assisting the Edo State government in finding solution to COVID-19 pandemic in the state, all he is concerned with is how to deny Obaseki a second term. We are waiting for him. Let’s see how that is going to be possible.