30 Days To Go! As APC Opts For Direct Primary, Clears Ize-Iyamu To Contest Edo Guber Primary…

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  • Oyegun Kicks, Wants Automatic Ticket For Governor Obaseki 
  • Oyegun Is A Houseman Of Obaseki, Say Oshiomhole’s Supporters

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has reportedly adopted the direct primary model to select its candidate for the gubernatorial election in Edo state slated for September, information emerging from the hierarchy of the ruling APC indicates.

Recall the party had scheduled its primary for June 22, 2020 and the adopted direct primary model is speculated to help all registered members of the APC vote directly for their preferred aspirant from among the lot jostling for the party ticket.

Though, Edo state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki has not formally reacted to the development, the Governor and the APC community loyal to him may likely reject the direct primary option when it is formally announced by the party’s headquarters.

This has not gone down well with some including former governor of Edo State , and immediate past chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun who have argued that the direct primary model is inappropriate in the circumstance, stressing that Obaseki should be given automatic ticket to fly the party’s flag in the governorship polls scheduled for September.

Meanwhile, the National Working Committee of the party at a meeting, Thursday also granted a waiver to one of the aspirants, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is reportedly favoured by key members of the  APC national hierarchy  to emerge as the party’s candidate ahead of incumbent Governor,  Mr Godwin Obaseki.

Oshiomhole and Obaseki have been engaged in a protracted battle over the control of power in the state. Oshiomhole has been accused of  high-handedness in his handling of party affairs while Obaseki has similarly been accused of betraying his benefactor, Oshiomhole, a man  they said helped installed him as governor.

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The immediate past national chairman of the party, Odigie-Oyegun, who is also a former governor of the State, Thursday urged the party to give Edo State Governo, Godwin Obaseki and his Ondo state counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu second term tickets in line with a purported peace deal, something which has sparked fresh controversy as Oshiomhole’s loyalists kicked against the idea accusing the former of being the governor’s footman, hireling and house-maker.

He said: “I welcome most warmly the news that Mr. President has firmly endorsed the agreement reached to settle the disruptive leadership crisis at the national level that was threatening the very existence of the All Progressives Congress.

“The immediate relevant part of that agreement was that both the governors; Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki of Edo State and Mr. Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN), of Ondo State having performed creditably and should be returned, unless they do not so wish.

“This means that the party, in unity, should organise to support the return of both governors.”

Odigie-Oyegun prayed that a consensus could be built behind Governor Obaseki because “he has not offended any aspect of the APC’s constitution nor has he in any way brought the party to disrepute.”

He added:“He has performed in an exemplary manner. In his time, there has been peace and freedom for the ordinary Edo man and woman from harassment by official thugs.

“Through him, Edo State must prove that our democracy can only survive if we do not create a situation where an individual or a small group can make or unmake our governors or other elected officials at will.”

However, he said if consensus could not be built behind the incumbent Obaseki “everything must be done to ensure that the persons in the leadership of the party at the centre, who are part of the contrived crisis in Edo State, must not even remotely be allowed to plan, participate or supervise the primary election.

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“It is of critical importance that the primary be seen, even by a blind man, to be free and fair otherwise there could be political consequences.”

But in the meantime, pro-Oshiomhole community of followers insist that there was never a time an automatic ticket was promised either of the Governors, stating that Oyegun’s utterance has portrayed “him as a mouthpiece or hireling of Godwin Obaseki.”

The pro-Oshiomhole’s alliance in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Chris Azebamwan, said it was evident the Edo APC primaries will be free and fair, adding that the former Chairman should have informed the world those he claimed to be working against the interest of the party. He said there was no such meeting where automatic ticket was promised to the Governors.

He said if such a meeting took place and decision arrived at, there would have been no need to set up the National Reconciliation Committee headed by Chief Bisi Akande.

According to him: “We are constrained to respond to statements credited to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun at page 8 of The Nation newspaper of today, 21st May 2020 and his full-page advert on the same subject at page 10.

“It is not in our character, upbringing or culture to take an elder to task. Especially an elder with the towering stature and credentials of Pa John Odigie-Oyegun who retired as a Federal Super-Permanent Secretary, has been a State Governor and served National Chairman of a major political party. He celebrated his 80th birthday recently, and we wish him many more years of service to the nation.

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“Against this background, one is at loss to understand why Chief Odigie-Oyegun would make utterances that portray him as a mouthpiece or hireling of Godwin Obaseki. That the forthcoming primaries in Edo State would be credible is not in doubt.

“It is neither desirable, nor in the interest of anyone to compromise the process, and in so doing, give room for the Courts to intervene and upturn the results. The leadership of APC is determined to conduct credible primaries. In addition, one would have expected Chief Odigie-Oyegun to name or identify those he claims are contriving a crisis in Edo State.

“The more worrisome part of Pa Odigie-Oyegun’s outburst is his claim that as part of the reconciliation process, an automatic ticket was promised to Godwin Obaseki. To the best of my knowledge, Chief Odigie-Oyegun was not at the meeting where reconciliation was discussed. He is no longer a principal officer of the APC, and is in no position therefore, to lay claims to the inner workings of the party.

“One wonders why the National Reconciliation Committee headed by Chief Bisi Akande would have needed to be set up, if positions had been taken on crucial issues like the ticket for Edo State governorship elections.

“We operate a democratic dispensation and Pa Odigie-Oyegun should allow the process throw up the best man for the job instead of attempting to throw a spanner in the works by promoting his personal opinions and the desperate ambitions of Godwin Obaseki as decisions or resolutions of our party leadership.

“He is an elder statesmen and should not allow himself to be dragged into the fray. That would be a tragic fall from the high pedestal to which we are accustomed to place him.”

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'Dotun Akintomide's journalism works intersect business, environment, politics and developmental issues. Among a number of local and international publications, his work has appeared in the New York Times. He's a winner of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Award. Currently, the Online Editor at The New Diplomat, Akintomide has produced reports that uniquely spoke to Nigeria's experience on Climate Change issues. When Akintomide is not writing, volunteering or working on a media project, you can find him seeing beautiful sites like the sandy beaches that bedecked the Lagos coastline.

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