Soni Daniel – Abuja
A chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Osadolor Idemudia, has warned Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State not to allow his contestation for power in the coming governorship election destabilise the state’s democratic space.
The party stalwart has also asked the governor to be properly guided by the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 protocols in the conduct of the forthcoming primary elections.
In a statement issued in Abuja, Dr Idemudia, who is a medical doctor/primary health consultant, expressed serious concern over the statement credited to the governor that there would be no direct primary in the state and that only indirect primary could hold in the state in accordance with the rule gazetted in newspapers recently, thereby restricting the gathering of the politicians to Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
He urged all parties, especially the APC, participating in the state election to be mindful of the COVID-19 protocol in determining the mode of primary to be adopted for their elections.
The medical doctor said the mode of a primary that will decentralise the system is more appropriate at this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
“A system that necessitates thousands of delegates to gather in a stadium to pick their candidate is very obstructive as this time of our health challenges, created by COVID-19 pandemic. So, all political parties should be guided appropriately,” he stated.
According to him, under the direct primary arrangement, party members are expected to vote in their wards, instead of travelling to Benin City, the state capital, for the primary election.
The statement added that apart from the benefit of all-inclusiveness and sense of belonging, which the direct option can assurance, collation of results which will reflect the general wish of the people on governorship standard-bearer can be ascertained.
He further stated that the indirect system will bring thousands of delegates together at a venue in Benin City, thereby exceptionally undermining social distancing in the overfilled venue.
Dr Idemudia further explained that in line with the principles of participatory democracy — a process of collective decision making that combines fundamentals from both direct and representative democracy, direct primary will give party’s members the power to decide on who becomes their candidate rather than leaving that decision in the hands of few delegates.
‘’I am happy that the generality of Edo APC, leaders and members have applauded the directive of the NWC on direct primary. That people are passionate down to the wards. And we urge the camp of Governor Obaseki not fuel the unsubstantiated fear and crisis that a direct primary will violate social distancing.
‘’The national secretariat of APC has settled for direct primary, the mode of the primary would help contain the spread of COVID-19 virus, and indirect primary would not be helpful.
“Article 20 of APC Constitution says the conduct of primaries for nomination for governorship shall be through direct or indirect primary election to be conducted at the appropriate level.
‘’Further to Article 20 (iii) of the constitution, indirect primaries for the purpose of nominating a candidate shall be done at a designated venue for that purpose, by an Electoral College of delegates democratically elected by members of the party from the various wards contained in the particular constituency at congresses,’’ he explained.
The APC constitution also states that ‘the number of delegates required for each office shall be determined from time to time by the National Working Committee.