Tony Osauzo, Benin
Edo Government has insisted that all political parties in the state must obey the regulations spelt out in its gazette, aimed at curtailing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), in the conduct of their primary elections ahead of the September gubernatorial election.
Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, made the call when he received his Bayelsa counterpart, Lawrence Ehwujakpo, who is in the state for his party, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) ward congresses.
Shaibu, who commended the PDP for following the guidelines in the gazette, urged all other political parties to follow suit as the regulations will help in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 and keep Edo people safe.
“We got a letter from your party, the PDP, requesting to make use of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium for its primary election. Governor Godwin Obaseki approved the request because the party obeyed the rules and regulations set by the Edo State Government.
“I, therefore, use this opportunity to tell other political parties to obey the gazette in the state, which is now a law. Just as you have obeyed, we are asking and calling on other political parties to obey the law. Any political party that disobeys the law will not hold its primary election in the state as the gazette must be respected.”
“The life of Edo people is more important than the political ambition of any politician or wishes of political parties. We need to be alive to play politics; we need to live to vote and be voted for in the election. The rules to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the gazette must be strictly followed to keep Edo people safe at this period.”
However, governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has described as illogical, argument by governor Godwin Obaseki that direct primary would aid the spread of the pandemic.
In a statement by Prince John Mayaki, Ize-Iyamu dismissed claims by Obaseki that a direct primary would pose a public health risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead accused the governor of politicising the state’s COVID-19 situation in his clamour for an indirect primary that he allegedly plans to rig.
“We have watched and listened with amusement, the very unintelligent argument being canvassed by Governor Godwin Obaseki and his clan of jesters in an attempt to stop the APC from holding a governorship primary election in Edo State.
“Obaseki’s argument that conducting direct primaries would aid the spread of Coronavirus is most illogical. What would rather aid the spread of the pandemic is indirect primary, his preferred mode, where over 5, 000 delegates and officials, including journalists, would have to crow at Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in total disregard to the social distancing precautionary measure, one of the protocols put in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“On the contrary, the direct mode of primary, apart from being more democratic as it involves all party members voting in their wards to nominate their preferred governorship aspirant, would take place in open field or space in a disperse manner with very few delegates, thus ensuring observance of social distancing.
“Notwithstanding, governor Obaseki trying to hide under the excuse of fear of the spread of Coronavirus is an afterthought and indeed a very poor excuse to avoid imminent defeat at the party direct primaries.
“The governor would have been taken seriously in his ‘concern’ about the spread of COVID-19 when the first index case occurred in Edo and he locked down the state, but he refused to do so against advice from the Oba of Benin and the State Council of Traditional Rulers and other well-meaning citizens of the state. Why the sudden realisation of the spread of Coronavirus only on the eve APC governorship primary election?
“In any case, will INEC conduct indirect governorship election for Edo State because of COVID-19?”, he queried.