By Ozioruva Aliu
Mr Chris Azebamwan is the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State he spoke on the coming governorship primary in the state
On Adams Oshiomhole as an interested party
One is actually at a loss to understand why anybody would say that Comrade Oshiomhole is an interested party in the process leading to the emergence of the candidate that will fly the flag of APC in the coming election.
Comrade Oshiomhole is the national chairman of the party and, that being the case, it is of course expected that he will be part of the process. So whoever says he is an interested party ought to give a clearer definition of the interest that they are querying. If it is the role of vetting the process, that is the constitutional responsibility as chairman and leader of the National Working Committee.
Of course he must have an interest in who emerges as the flag bearer of the party in any state in Nigeria and not just Edo state, so it defies logic for anyone to say Comrade Oshiomhole is an interested party and because of that he should excuse himself. That is trying to stand the truth on its head. There is no way the national chairman of a political party will not be interested in the process that will see the emergence of the candidate that the party will put forward for election.
Om mode of the primary election
The current governor says that he has done so well in the past four years and that he deserves a second term, he has earned it and that it is not negotiable so the records ought to speak for him in which case he should not be afraid to submit himself to direct primaries which in essence is asking all registered members in APC to give him an approval rating.
If Governor Obaseki believes he has done very well, then he should let the people decide who will represent them in the coming election. The constitution of the APC is very clear. Article 13, Section 4 (14), power to decide the mode of primaries is vested squarely in the NWC. They are not even bound to take advice or recommendation from any other organ of the party. The constitution does not create that leeway for any other party to make an input. It is squarely the responsibility of the NWC to decide the mode of primaries in any given election so it is not a matter for debate.
There is no way people loyal to Obaseki and want him to emerge as the party’s flag bearer can impose their wishes on the rest of us. We are all members of APC and if they are loyal party men, they should subject themselves to the authority of the NWC. Our constitution says that the highest organ of our party is the National Convention and in between conventions, the National Executive Committee (NEC) is vested with powers to act on behalf of the Convention and thereafter submit their decisions to the next Convention for ratification. In the same manner the NWC is vested with powers to act on behalf of the NEC in between meetings of NEC and thereafter submit their decisions to NEC for ratification and the NWC has said there will not be NEC before the primaries and so we cannot have a vacuum.
The fear of Zamfara case happening in Edo
Those who are referring to Zamfara as what will happen in Edo state are probably less well informed. In a nutshell, in Zamfara legitimate primaries as recognised by our constitution did not take place. It is like what happened here prior to the National Assembly election.
It was just about our Convention and the governor superintended primaries and candidates emerged but the NWC nullified that exercise on the ground that the governor was not vested with the powers to conduct primaries, so some delegates were even in Abuja and they were recalled and asked to come back to Edo state so that they can come and conduct proper primaries that will be supervised by a committee delegated by the NWC but in the case of Zamfara, the governor did not submit himself to the authority of the NWC for whatever reason, so then one of the aspirants went to court to query the mode in which candidates emerged in Zamfara and he was able to prove his case – that proper primaries were not held in Zamfara.
That is why the court said we did not have legitimate primaries in that election. In Edo state we are going to hold primaries, it will be supervised by the NWC and it will be witnessed by INEC. So the Zamfara scenario cannot play out in Edo state.
PDP capitalising on the division in the party to take over
The perceived division in the party is actually between the very few persons who are on the payroll of the governor either in terms of salary or stipends because of course the economy is harsh. People struggle to make a livelihood so they don’t want to lose their pay; take it from me that over 80 per cent of those who claim that they are loyal to Governor Obaseki today, when push comes to shove will turn their backs on him. This is the truth. The division is more in imagination than reality.