Stories by Tony Osauzo, Benin
All is now set for the long awaited primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State to nominate its candidate for the September 10 election in the state.
The camps of the aspirants are in frenzy, and anxiety fills the air even as the aspirants and their supporters are engaged in last minute arrangements and preparations.
Already, some of the aspirants have camped their delegates in hotels to keep them away from being poached by other aspirants who might give them irresistible offers or cash to sway their minds.
If the volume of activities in the aspirants’ camps is an indication of their state of preparedness for the primaries which holds tomorrow, June 18, then it is clear that it is going to be a straight electoral battle between Governor Oshiomhole’s preferred aspirant, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and the incumbent Deputy Governor, Dr. Pius Odubu.
However, there are indications that nothing is full proof for now, as anything could happen to change the electoral game right at the venue, as high wire consultations and intense lobbying among party leaders and aspirants are still ongoing.
This is perhaps the reason one of the aspirants, Barrister Casley Omo-Irabor, who on Tuesday announced his withdrawal from the governorship race, hinted about a third force that may likely produce the governorship candidate of the APC.
Nonetheless, one prayer in the lips of party faithful, is that the fall-out of the primary election should not put the party asunder.
The party’s members’ fear is well founded or justified because of the bitterness that trailed the campaign process of some of the aspirants leading to the primaries.
A party primaries is supposed to be an internal brotherly contest between those who have signified their aspiration in which case whoever emerges is supported by all.
But regrettably, some of the leaders and governorship aspirants of the APC have in the process leading to the primaries, conducted themselves by their attitude and utterances, as if they were going into a general election with other political parties. This is not good enough.
The general expectation of members of the public is that, as a party of change, the APC will adopt the same method that produced President Muhammadu Buhari as the party’s Presidential candidate in a rancour-free primary election in Lagos which was adjudged by all as very credible and peaceful.
I’m not under pressure to deliver any aspirant –Masari
…Warns Oshiomhole against anointing anybody
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Governor of Katsina State and chairman, Election Committee for the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries, Alhaji Aminu Masari, has said that he is not under any form of pressure to deliver any aspirant.
Speaking after the inauguration of the committee to conduct the APC primaries, the former Speaker, House of Representatives warned that he does not want to know if Governor Adams Oshiomhole anointed any aspirant, assuring that his committee will be fair to all the aspirants.
Asked if he is under any form of pressure considering the speculations that the governor has anointed a candidate, Masari replied: “Pressure, do you know the kind of person I am. If the governor has anointed any candidate, it is his business not my business.”
Speaking on the likely challenges his committee will encounter, he said: “In every primary especially for somebody like me who has been in this business for more than 20 years, I have been involved in many primaries including those I have participated and those I was privileged to serve in one committee or the other, dealing with human beings is a very difficult thing especially when it comes to contesting election in Nigeria.
“It will be difficult for all of them to agree. No matter how fair the party conducts an election, some people will still complain. However, our job is to make sure that we follow the guidelines strictly but as I said, we must be fair to all the contestants so that the outcome will be supported if not by all the majority of the contestants,” he noted.
On the arrangement ahead of the primaries, the former Speaker revealed that he would formally hold a parley with the contestants, emphasising: “We are going to meet with the aspirants on Friday.
“There is no way you can conduct primaries without meeting the contestants to acquaint them with the rules and guidelines; then hear their contributions as regards to how to make the exercise smooth,” he assured.
Earlier, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling party had while inaugurating the Election Committee and Election Primary Appeal Committee, urged them to organise a free, fair and credible primaries, disclosing that a total number of 2873 delegates would be participating.
Makarfi-led PDP holds primaries on Monday
From Taiwo Amodu, Abuja
In a deft move to assure its anxious supporters that it would partake in the forthcoming governorship elections, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) caretaker committee under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi has fixed the governorship primary for Monday.
Former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam who is the chairman of the panel that conducted the election of ad-hoc delegates yesterday submitted its report to the caretaker committee.
Suswam told Senator Abdul Ningi in charge of Mobilization and Organization for the party that the exercise was hitch-free in all the 192 Wards in Edo State. He further declared that the three governorship aspirants in the race for the PDP ticket were convinced about the transparency of the exercise and have signed an agreement to accept the outcome of the Monday exercise. Suswam noted that the election of the delegates was officially monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies.
Ogiemwonyi denies pact with Odubu
By Ndubuisi Orji
Amid speculations that former Minister of Works, Chris Ogiemwonyi and Edo State deputy governor, Pius Odubu are working toward a consensus for tomorrow’s gubernatorial primaries of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Ogiemwonyi has said there is no such talk between them.
He told Daily Sun in Benin City yesterday that he has not seen the deputy governor for some time now. However, Ogiemwonyi admitted that Benin Leaders of Thought made efforts to get all the Benin aspirants to come up with a consensus candidate, but the move didn’t work.
He said in the subsequent meetings called for that purpose, Odubu did not show up.
“The truth is that the two of us are eminently qualified for this job. I have 35 years of unblemished record in public service. He is a younger fellow coming with 16 years. But the last time I saw Pius(Odubu) was at the screening exercise done at Abuja. Since then, I have not seen him again”.
APC, Oshiomhole assure on adequate security
National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun, yesterday in Abuja, inaugurated a committee for the conduct of tomorrow’s primaries.
According to a statement issued in Benin by the Edo State Publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Godwin Erhahon, the Committee chaired by Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Masari, will arrive Benin today.
The statement assured delegates for the primaries of protection, as adequate security arrangements have been made for all.
“Delegates are to come with their PVC or Driver’s License, National Identity or ATM card. Those who are coming with PVC should bring along any of the other three to authenticate his/her PVC in case of dispute over the ownership of a cloned PVC.
“However, any delegate with fake Identity Card should steer clear of the venue as anyone caught with fake identification card will be dealt with according to the law.
“Loitering will not be allowed in the venue as only delegates and others who have official duties to perform in the primaries will be allowed at the venue”, the statement warned.
Meanwhile, Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has assured the governorship aspirants of the APC in the primaries that the exercise will be free, fair and devoid of violence.
The governor who gave the assurance at a meeting attended by seven of the aspirants said: “as the Chief Security Officer of the state, every step will be taken to ensure that there is no violence, and there will be no violence by the special grace of God because our party does not include violence in its method.
PDP screens three aspirants
Three aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were yesterday, screened in Benin by a four-man committee set up by the National Caretaker Committee of the party under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Markafi.
Those screened were Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu, Chief Solomon Edebiri and Mr. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen.
The Screening Committee headed by former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adediran, has as members Senator Abiye Sekibo, Senator Joshua Idaini, Mr. Ndubusi Nwigwe and Mr. Faruk Yahaya Idris.
Shortly after the screening exercise which took place at the party’s secretariat along First East Cirular Road, Benin, the chairman of the committee, Prof. Adeniran addressed journalists, saying: “we are here for the screening of governorship aspirants with a view to electing a candidate through a credible and transparent primary election that will be taking place on Monday.