APC primary: Oshiomhole, Obaseki who blinks first?


Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki and All Progressives Congress (APC) the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole appeared to have drawn the battle line over the outcome of the party’s primaries which eventually led to the impeachment of the Deputy Speaker of the state assembly, Victor Edoror. Patrick Ahanor reports.

Secret reconciliation fails
Recent turn of events within the Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) indicate that all is not well politically between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his predecessor in office, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is now the party national chairman. No thanks to the controversial primaries of the party!

Though efforts were made by both men to mend their fences and bridge their differences in secret, it was however learnt that the Edo State governor found the overbearing influence of the national chairman on the State in the recent party’s primaries as one too many especially against the backdrop that he is the sitting governor.
The duo have, therefore, engaged in ‘shadow boxing’ by deploying their foot soldiers to throw tirade at each other even as there have been protests in support or against the outcome of the party’s primaries in Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency where the Speaker of the State Assembly is seeking the House of Representatives ticket.


Clash of methods
For instance, while Obaseki is believed to have been keen on indirect/consensus primaries for selecting the party’s candidates, the national secretariat allegedly foisted direct primaries on the State, a method designed to allow the electorate vote secretly against the preferred candidates of the governor.

And having succumbed to the primaries’ model, it was gathered that attempt was made to deny his preferred candidate, Hon. Osaigbovo Iyoha, who is also a serving member of the State Assembly from his local government- the Oredo Federal constituency ticket. He was being overlooked in favour of “Abuja preferred candidate, Osaro Obaze”.

Also, in contention was Edo Central Senatorial and Akoko-Edo Federal constituency seats, where the governor was said to have backed his Commissioner of Finance, Hon. John Inegbedion, and current Speaker of the State Assembly, Kabiru Adjoto, respectively.
Voided elections

To this end, the Assemblies’ primaries held in the State on October 4th were voided by the national leadership of the party under controversial circumstances within 24 hours despite the Edo governor earlier expressing gratitude to the organizers for the peaceful conduct of the exercise and congratulated the winners.
The cancellation of the primaries no doubt was a deft political blow on Obaseki who had at the time urged members of the party to ignore “media publications attempting to cast aspersions on the primary elections that were declared peaceful, free and fair across the state”.

The then Acting National Publicity secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena had specifically accused the Edo State Working Committee of complicity adding that “A primary election committee under the chairmanship of Hajia Farida Suleiman would be sent to Edo State to conduct the primaries”.

Nonetheless, while the governor had his way in his choice of Oredo Federal Constituency and Edo Central Senatorial seats in the rescheduled primaries, he, however, got a political bruise in Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency as the Farida Suleiman-led primary committee withheld results of the constituency over alleged violence, adding that a panel would look into the issues.

However, the national leadership of the party was said to have submitted the name of incumbent member of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s flag bearer for Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency – a development that did not go well with the governor’s camp.


Adjoto goes to court
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the primaries, Speaker Kabiru Adjoto and some other aggrieved State legislators approached the Benin Division of the Federal High Court to seek “the recovery of their mandates as true winners in the October 6th 2018 primaries of the party and ensure that the will of the people is respected”.

Adjoto said: “Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency primaries as collated and announced by the Returning Officer, Hon Sufiyanu Igbafe clearly showed that he won the election overwhelmingly but wondered why the leadership of the party went ahead to submit the name of the incumbent who lost the election…

“I remain a loyal member of the APC. After exhausting all internal mechanisms to seek for justice as provided for in the party constitution as expected of every law abiding citizens, it became imperative to approach a law court to seek for justice.”, he said.


The casualties

Be that as it may, the party’s political logjam arising from the primaries berthed at the State Assembly as Deputy Speaker, Victor Edoror, who is said to be loyal to the national leadership of the party, was impeached for alleged embezzlement, while three other lawmakers were suspended for “unruly behaviour”.
It was gathered that while the impeached deputy speaker was plotting the removal of speaker Adjoto at the time, he was however stunned when he met Adjoto already presiding over his impeachment in an early morning plenary.
Security operatives deployed to the Assembly prevented what could have resulted to bloodbath between political thugs loyal to both factions.

Speaker Adjoto, who thereafter addressed a faction of the thugs said: “I appreciate you for coming to defend democracy. I will always be loyal to the APC.

“The interest of the State is greater than the interest of an individual in Abuja. As APC member, we are working hard to ensure President Buhari wins re-election in 2019”, Adjoto said.

Having survived impeachment threat and dislodged the “rebel legislators” the Assembly in what is believed to be payback to the governor for standing by the Adjoto-led leadership thereafter passed “a confident vote on Governor Obaseki”.

And as aspirants who participated in the parties primaries awaits INEC deadline for substitution of candidates especially in the State Assembly list, only time will tell what would become the faith of many who participated in the exercise but were outsmarted or out rightly rigged out by the powers that be.

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