Ndubuisi Orji and Godwin Tsa, Abuja
About 2,229 delegates will participate at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary billed for the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, today, to elect candidate for the September 19 Edo State gubernatorial election.
Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, who confirmed this to journalists in Abuja, yesterday, said all sensitive materials for the congress have already been dispatched to the state.
The 2,229 delegates consists of the three ad-hoc delegates elected from the 192 wards in the state and statutory delegates, which include commissioners and other political appointees.
Four aspirants, including Governor Godwin Obaseki, who recently defected to the party from All Progressives Congress (APC), a member of the House of Representatives, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Gideon Ikhine and Kenneth Imasuagbon, obtained the nomination forms.
However, the contest would be between Obaseki and Imasuangbon, as Ikhine and Ogbeide-Ihama have withdrawn.
Meanwhile, the opposition party, yesterday, appointed the immediate chairman of the Edo PDP, Dan Orbih, as chairman of caretaker committee in the South South.
Daily Sun gathered that Orbih’s appointment is part of measures to placate party leaders aggrieved by the entry of the Edo governor into the PDP.
Ologbondiyan, in a statement, yesterday, said the dissolution of the zonal caretaker committee in the South South and the setting up of a new one is in line with the party’s constitution.
However, the controversy trailing the build-up to party primaries has taken another dimension with two political parties fighting over the use of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
If not quickly resolved by respective authorities, the Action Alliance (AA) and the PDP would conduct their primaries at the stadium on the same date.
Already, AA has alerted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the development and equally called on the PDP to shift its primary to another date.
But, Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said there was never an approval for AA to hold its governorship primary at the stadium.
“The only party I know that has approval to hold its primary at the stadium today is the PDP,” he said.
The AA had initially notified INEC on May 28 about its intention to hold its primary on June 25 to 26 at Ogbemus Hotel and Suit, but later changed to Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in compliance with the state government laws and extant COVID-19 regulations which stipulates that all primaries must hold at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
In a letter addressed to INEC chairman, dated June 17, but received on June 18, the party drew the attention of the commission to the change of venue from Ogbemus Hotel and Suit, No.2, Nosa Ekhator Lane, off Upper Sokponba Road Benin, Edo State to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
The letter signed by Adekunle Rufai Omo-Aje and Suleiman Abdulrasheed, national chairman and secretary respectively, cited the state laws as it relates to COVID-19 as reasons for the change of venue.
In another letter addressed to the National Chairman of PDP by its counsel, Oba Maduabuchi, dated June 23, 2020, AA asked the PDP to shift its primary to another date as it will be unhealthy for the two parties to hold their primaries on the same day and venue.