Ahead of the governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State on Monday (tomorrow) the party has dismissed the order gazetted by the state government that political parties must obtain approval of the governor to hold any political gathering.
The APC maintained that it did not require a permit from the state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, to hold direct primary as its preferred mode of choosing candidate for the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Obaseki had in a gazette signed on May 28 and published on June 5, banned political gatherings that could make direct primary possible in the state stipulating that only indirect primary could be held in the state and in only one location, Benin City.
The order partly reads, “That in respect of political gatherings for the purpose of conducting primaries for any of the parties desiring to field candidates in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, gatherings of more than 20 persons may be allowed, subject to the written approval of the governor, if such gatherings do not exceed 5,000 persons; hold in Benin City and in a single facility with a large seating capacity of not less than 10,000 persons; are provided with adequate health, safety and sanitary facilities and are COVID-19 response compliant with social distancing policy, hand-washing and proper use of face masks fully observed.”
The governor had explained that the law was in line with the determination of his administration to stop the spread of COVID-19. But the APC argued that it was a political move to stop it from conducting its direct primary to choose its candidate. The Independent National Electoral Commission had revealed that of the 15 political parties participating in the election, 14 chose indirect primary while only the APC chose direct primary.
But responding to Sunday PUNCH’s enquiries on Saturday, the APC Acting National Chairman, Abiola Ajimobi, who spoke through the National Vice Chairman (South South), Hilliard Eta, said in a telephone interview that the APC as a law-abiding party believed that only the Federal Government was currently empowered to enact the kind of order, Godwin Obaseki, gazetted.
He said, “Under the law, as it is operational in Nigeria today, it is only the Federal Government that has powers to make laws under a pandemic such as the coronavirus as we have it today. The gazette that Obaseki has signed says not more than 50 persons can gather.
“In any case, since we now have only one aspirant left, we don’t have to have any permit to conduct our affirmation.
“All we need to do is to ask the question, “Do you want Pastor Ize-Iyamu yes or no finish. If he (Obaseki) likes, let him say people should not gather at all, we will do the affirmation in the various houses of our members.”
One of our correspondents had also gathered from sources that the two other aspirants cleared by the party’s screening committee; Osaro Obazee and Dr Pius Odubu, had withdrawn from the primary, leaving only Pastor Ize-Iyamu in the race.
But in his response, the governor, through his Media Adviser, Mr Crusoe Osagie, told Sunday PUNCH that the gazette was still in force and would be enforced. He said the state was prepared to ensure that every gathering in the state complied with the COVID-19 prevention protocol.
He explained that there was nothing political about the law, saying it was meant to protect the people of the state from deadly diseases.
According to him, as a responsible leader, Obaseki owed it a duty to the people and residents of the state to protect them from unnecessary exposure to diseases especially during a pandemic such as the one being experienced across the globe.
He also explained that as of 9pm on Saturday, the relevant agencies of the state had not received any request for a permit from the APC.
Osagie stressed, “We have not received any request for a permit by the APC to hold primary. The state gazette is still in force and will be enforced. It is a requirement.”
The APC governorship primary holds on Monday, June 22 while that of the PDP is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, 2020.
Police deploy mobile policemen from Delta, Bayelsa, others to Edo
The Edo State Police Command on Saturday said the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had on the request of the state Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, approved the deployment of policemen in the state for the conduct of the primaries.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Chidi Nwabuzor, told one of our corrrespndents in an interview that the state had received two detachments of Police Mobile Force from Delta and Bayelsa states, noting that some were already in Benin City while others are expected.
He, however, did not disclose the number of policemen for the primaries.
He said, “The Edo State Police Command is ready to ensure that there are peaceful primaries and in doing that adequate security arrangements have been made by the Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo. He is not doing it alone, he is working with the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Department of State Services, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the state.
“Critical stakeholders have been reached. We have 192 wards in Edo State and the tactical teams from command levels will move to these wards according to their posting.”
Also, the Head, Public Relations, NSCDC Edo State Command, Mr Efosa Ogbebor, said the command would make use of armed and unmarked personnel for the exercise.
He added, “We do not disclose the number of personnel for security reasons. However, we have deployed adequate personnel, both armed and unarmed as well as intelligence for the party primaries. They are specifically for the exercise. We are fully on the ground with other security agencies to ensure that the exercise is carried out peacefully.”
I’ve presented my certificates to PDP panel, says Obaseki
Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki on Saturday appeared before the Peoples Democratic Party Screening Committee at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja for the state governorship election.
Obaseki, who was disqualified alongside two others by the APC screening committee on June 12 over what the committee termed as discrepancies in his names and certificates and for taking the party to court, told journalists after the exercise that he presented copies of his certificates to the committee.
Asked the certificates he presented to the committee, the governor said, “The screening was fair; it was very professionally done. You could see objectivity and I presented all my certificates; my secondary school, higher school, university and my National Youth Service Corps certificate so that they can look at it and see if there are inconsistencies in them. And you can ask the screening committee if there are any inconsistencies in any of them.”
He said he hoped the party would find him eligible to contest in its primary scheduled to hold on Thursday.
The governor said he was already reaching out to other contestants to ensure the unity of the party beyond the primary election.
He also noted that having served as governor under a different platform for close to four years, he didn’t notice any major ideological divide because for him, his ideology was focused on development. Obaseki said he got a little bit confused when his former party accused him of “not sharing the money.”
I have support of some APC governors – Obaseki
The governor also disclosed that despite having defected from the APC to the PDP on Thursday, some APC governors were still supporting him, adding that he had received support from different spectrum of society.
Obaseki said, “I still thank God that I enjoy national support, not just support from my colleagues from the APC, I think the support is national. There are elder statesmen who are apolitical, there are traditional rulers.
“I have people from different spectrum of the society who come around to solidarise with me and give me support because I think Nigerians are generally fair-minded people. They are people who do not accept injustice. From what I have seen over the past several weeks and months, the support is just across the board. It is not just from APC governors alone.”
While welcoming Obaseki to the screening exercise, the chairman of the PDP screening panel, Kingsley Chinda, assured him the panel would be fair to him and other aspirants.
He said, “We welcome you to the PDP and also sympathise with you as a Nigerian at this time that you have offered yourself for service to our nation; a nation where the power companies rely on generators to function and where citizens provide public amenities for themselves. This is the kind of nation you are offering yourself to serve. So, you must appreciate the enormity of the work that is before you.
“We are not unaware that you are a serving governor, but that has nothing to do with us as members of the screening committee. We want to assure you that you are at home. Whatever our findings are, we shall report back to the party. But rest assured that we will be fair as human beings.”
Ize-Iyamu emerges APC candidate as two aspirants withdraw
All appears set for the emergence of Pastor Osagie Ize -Iyamu as the candidate of the APC for the 2020 governorship election. This is sequel to the decision of the two other aspirants, cleared by the screening committee to contest the party’s primary, to withdraw from the race.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, confirmed the development in a telephone interview with Sunday PUNCH, in Abuja, on Friday.
Although he did not name the aspirant left in the race, our correspondent gathered that Ize-Iyamu had emerged as the candidate of the party.
Asked how many contestants were participating in the party’s governorship primary, Issa-Onilu said, “We have only one person. The two other persons have written to us to withdraw from the race.”
With the coast cleared for Ize-Iyamu, he is still required to receive the endorsement of party members in line with provisions of Article 20 (iii) (a and b) of the APC Constitution 2014 (As Amended).
It stipulates, among other things, that …“where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of “Yes” or “No” should be called to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed crisis.”
However, the APC was silent on the number of members expected to participate in the direct primary.
When contacted, the APC National Organising Secretary, Emma Ibidiro, said the Hope Uzodinma-led Election Committee would be better placed to provide such details after assessing the situation on the ground.
However, figures released by the party during the 2018 direct primary for the nomination of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as the party’s standard bearer for the 2019 Presidential Election showed that 505,827 party members voted for Buhari to emerge as the party’s candidate in the election.
We will support you, PDP govs assure Obaseki
The Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum has assured Obaseki and his supporters that the party will provide a level playing field for them as they extend their support for him.
The forum, led by Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, in a statement by its Director-General, C.I.D Maduabum, in Abuja on Saturday wished him success.
The statement said, “We welcome you to the PDP Governors’ Forum under the leadership of His Excellency, Rt. Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR and all other PDP governors in the forum. Your entry into the PDP family is a homecoming to a democratic platform that accommodates all Nigerians desirous of good governance, accountability and deepening of democratic tenets.”
PLS HELP SHARE OUR UPDATES AFTER READING...
To Support Us with CASH & Other DONATIONS, Advertise or Publish a Story/Article on NEWS FLAKES NG: Kindly Contact Us via firstname.lastname@example.org,,,, Call or Whatsapp: 07039688614, 08096304429