The Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress is facing huge dispute over the mode of primary to be used in the conduct of its June 22 governorship primary, the Independent National Electoral Commission has said it will only honor the mode of primary submitted to it by the national chairman of the party.
The National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, said to be in the same camp with the factional chairman of the party in the state, David Imuse, had insisted that the party would use direct primary to select its candidate.
Oshiomhole, believed to be opposed to the reelection of Governor Godwin Obaseki, had also gone ahead to write INEC via a letter dated May 19, 2020, stating that the party had chosen direct primary for the selection of its candidate for the election.
But the state chairman of the party, Anselm Ojezua, said to be supporting Obaseki, had said the party’s State Working Committee chose indirect primary. He explained that the National Executive Council of the party had said each state was at liberty to adopt any method of preference. Ojezua accused the NWC, headed by Oshiomhole, of imposing the direct primary on the state as a means to oust Obaseki from the race.
Meanwhile, to counter the letter written by Oshiomhole to INEC that the party would do direct primary, the governor, in a gazette signed on May 28 and published on Friday, banned political gatherings that could make direct primary possible in the state. Obaseki insisted that by virtue of the gazette, only direct primary could be held in the state and in only one location.
Following the tension from the two factions in the APC, the law only permits INEC to deal with the matter only as the law permits the commission to relate with the national chairman and national secretary when it pertained to party primaries.
The mode of primaries to be adopted by political parties is a function of their constitution, the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the regulations and guidelines issued by INEC.
Meanwhile, Obaseki has insisted that there would be no direct primary in the state, stressing that only indirect primary could hold in the state in accordance with the rule gazetted in newspapers on Friday.
The new rule 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.”