.Obaseki: Covid-19 does not allow Direct Model
.Ize-Iyamu: Indirect model susceptible to manipulation
By Omeiza Ajayi
The governorship primary election of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC in Edo state slated for June 22 has come under threat following disagreement by stakeholders on the model to be adopted for the exercise.
The Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee NWC last Thursday rose from a meeting in which it approved the direct method for the primary election.
The method entails all registered members of the party in the state voting across the 192 political wards in Edo to pick the party’s candidate.
The consensus aspirant of the pro-Oshiomhole group, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has hailed the decision of the NWC on direct primary.
However, Gov. Godwin Obaseki has on his part dismissed the position of the NWC, describing it as illegal.
READ ALSO: Edo 2020: Hurdles before Obaseki
While he has opted for the indirect mode of primary, the governor accused the NWC of usurping the powers of the National Executive Committee NEC to determine the mode of primaries.
Both his spokesman, Crusoe Osagie and the factional Chairman of the party in the state, Anselm Ojezua have said the NEC had at its last meeting asked states to look at their peculiarities and recommend to the party’s leadership, the model of primary elections they want.
The Coronavirus twist
The Covid-19 Pandemic seems to have added a new twist to the advocacy as to which mode of primary election best suits the state for now.
One of the conditions for holding a direct primary is the presence of a valid party member register, but the Obaseki group has consistently stated that the party has no such register, hence making it difficult to adopt the direct method. The Ize-Iyamu group however contends that party records are with the ward executives and that those executives have a register of the members in their respective areas.
However, what has formed the major bone of contention is the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ojezua said at the meeting of the State Executive Committee with critical stakeholders on May 22 “and upon a motion moved by the State Assistant Youth Leader, Joseph Ohiafi Esq, and seconded by the State Auditor, Hon. Timothy Osadolor, it was unanimously resolved that;
“Pursuant to the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (October 2014 as Amended) and in view of the authority conferred on us by the National Executive Committee of our Party to choose any of the methods provided in the said Constitution for the conduct of Primaries in Edo State and having regards to the prevailing circumstances in the State, to wit, the raging COVID-19 pandemic and the policies, protocols and regulations put in place by Government which emphasizes social distancing among other safety measures being painstakingly implemented in the State, we as members of the State Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress, Edo State together with other critical stakeholders whose signatures in affirmation are herewith attached do unanimously choose and adopt the Indirect Primary Method for use in nominating a candidate for the 2020 gubernatorial election in the state”.
Some of those who signed the statement were the governor himself, his deputy, Philip Shuaibu and former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun among others.
However, the Ize-Iyamu group has kicked against the position of the Obaseki camp, saying Covid-19 should never be an excuse.
According to Ize-Iyamu, even for the delegate system or indirect method to be used, the direct method would still be used to elect the delegates, hence Covid-19 cannot be an excuse. He also queried whether the governor’s camp would stop the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC from going ahead with the governorship election in September on the grounds of the social distancing rule put in place by both the Federal and State Governments to control the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
The position of NEC
Section 13 (V) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) stipulates that the NWC, “shall in particular, propose to the National Executive Committee NEC, Party electoral regulations, to govern the conduct of elections to all Party offices at every level and to govern the Procedure for selecting Party candidates for elective offices, subject to the of this Constitution.”
For now, the battle like is drawn between both groups. Only President Muhammadu Buhari’s urgent intervention can erase that line and stop Edo from going the way of Zamfara or even Rivers State.