…2,304 delegates to elect candidate
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
All Progressives Congress (APC) has raked in the sum of N60 million from the sales of Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms to aspirants for the forthcoming governorship election.
A total of 11 aspirants purchased the nomination and the expression of interest forms at the cost of N5.5 million. The aspirants include: the state deputy governor, Pius Odubu , Kenneth Imansuagbon, Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), Godwin Obaseki , Chris Ogiemwonyi, Peter Esele, Austin Emuan, Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula, Blessing Agbomhere and Prof. Ebegue Amadasun. The only female aspirant, Tina Agbara got the forms free.
Meanwhile, in line with the timetable for the primaries, all the candidates that purchased and returned their forms would today,(Wednesday) face a screening committee led by Senator Osita Izunaso.
According to the release from the committee, “On Wednesday, June 8, the screening exercise will be conducted for all the aspirants who bought the forms. The exercise will continue until June 12. If there are issues arising from the screening exercise, the Appeal Committee will look at them from Monday, June 13 to June 15.
The release further noted that a total number of 2,394 delegates would be expected to choose the candidate for the party during the primaries slated for June 18.
Nine parties indicate interest to field candidates
From Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky
Out of the 20 “active” political parties in Edo State, only nine have so far indicated their interest to field candidates for the September 10 governorship election.
The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Sam Olumekun, disclosed this yesterday while addressing journalists in Benin but did not disclose the names of the political parties.
He explained that, in line with the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) INEC was bound to accept whoever was presented by each of the registered political parties as their respective candidates for the election.
He announced that about 490,000 Permanent Voter Cards are yet to be collected by registered voters in Edo State to enable them exercise their constitutional rights during the governorship election.
According to Mr. Olumekun, the figure represents 30 per cent of the total number of registered voters, which currently stands at 1.7 million.
He said the Continuous Voters Registration would begin from June 22 to June 26 at designated centres in the state, adding that the distribution of old PVCs would also be carried out within the period.
The REC said that the commission was faced with the challenge of securing the lives and property of the citizens during the election and therefore collaborate with relevant security agencies to make the polls peaceful.
Frowning at those who sponsor violence during elections, Olumekun said: “These patrons insist that the only possible outcome of election is winning and prepare for elections in a manner reminiscent of preparations for war. This mindset has to change”.
He disclosed that the commission would employ the use of the card reader in order to reduce the number of “ghost voters” and persons who indulge in multiple voting, assuring that the results of the Edo election would be collated electronically from the polling units. “In 2011, when we used the temporary voters card for the general election, the number that voted in the presidential election was 39,469,484 whereas in 2015 election, the corresponding number was 29,432,083, a difference of more than 10 million; the figure went down by more than 25 per cent. How could over 10 million voters disappear between 2011 and 2015?
“The card reader had evidently helped to screen off fake voters and, thus, a resolution of a major election conundrum. Thus, with the use of the card reader technology in 2015, the presidential election was more competitive as the margin of defeat narrowed.
“In summary, the smart card readers contributed to the huge success of the 2015 elections and it will be used for the Edo governorship election on September 10, 2016”, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, said.
Delegates urged not to surrender PVCs
Following complaints that some APC leaders are moppping up Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and inducing delegates with money ahead of the party’s primaries, the Edo State chapter of the party, yesterday, advised against it.
The party’s State Publicity Secretary, Comrade Godwin Erhahon in a statement in Benin yesterday, said: “APC condemns this dirty practice and warns those involved to desist or face sanction”.
The statement called on delegates whose PVCs are withheld to write protest letters to the party’s National Secretariat and copy Edo State Director of State Security Service.
The statement reads: “Complaints reaching our secretariat from various wards and Local Government Areas of Edo State revealed that some notable party leaders are going round collecting Permanent voter Cards (PVC) from state delegates preparatory to the June 18 governorship primary.
“The leaders are said to be buying each PVC with between N10,000 and N20,000 without explanation on what they intend to do with them.“Some Local Government Area party Chairmen are said to be threatening those who refused to submit their PVC that their names will be deleted from the list of delegates.
“APC condemns this dirty practice and warns those involved to desist or face sanction.
“Delegates who have submitted their PVC to such leaders are hereby advised to retrieve them immediately as such upfront collection of voters or party membership cards is not part of requirement for the primaries. Nobody can delete any name from the delegate list as the authentic list has been released to stakeholders by the National Secretariat.
“Delegates whose PVCs are withheld by anybody should forward written protest to the national secretariat urgently and copy the Director of State Security Service, Benin City.
“Investigations by the secretariat revealed that the collection of PVCs from delegates is being undertaken by the campaign organization of a particular governorship aspirant.
“The purpose, according to reliable source, is to distribute the cards to loyalists of the particular aspirant to impersonate the delegate at the primaries. Should their aspirant lose out in the primary, they also intend to withhold the PVC till after the September 10 general election to sabotage whoever emerged as APC governorship candidate at the poll.
“Edo APC hereby calls on the national leadership of the party to be pro-active and ensure that desperados do not succeed in their plot against the party”.
APC primaries: Litmus test for internal democracy
When both the National Vice-Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), South South, Hilliard Eta and Governor Adams Oshiomhole spoke about the beauty of internal democracy in the party at the weekend in Benin, what crossed the minds of those who attended the South South Solidarity rally for Edo State ahead of the election, was how the June 18 primaries of the party will be.
The focus on the APC by political observers is basically for two reasons. One is that as the ruling party in the state, many governorship aspirants found the platform as the beautiful bride to possibly realise their ambition to govern the state.
This accounts for the high number of aspirants APC has, and many people wait to see how the party will midwife the governorship primaries in a transparent and free and fair manner to avoid the usual bitterness and complaints that are common with aspirants who may lose out in the party nomination process.
The second reason why observers are curious is that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which held sway for a long time also preached internal democracy but what happened in most cases in the party’s primaries was “the more you looked, the less you saw’’. Therefore, for the APC, people are waiting to see whether there would be marked difference between the party and PDP’s way of doing things, especially as the APC prides itself as the party of change.
The outcome of the Edo APC primaries will be a factor in the election with many thinking that if it is able to conduct a peaceful and credible primaries, it would have won the first hurdle toward the election.
The calculation is also that if the APC fails to conduct an acceptable primaries, some of the aspirants, as is typical of many Nigerian politicians, may either defect to PDP or other parties to try to actualise their ambitions or remain in the APC to play the “spoiler’s role”.
Analysts believe that if this happens, the ruling party would then find it a little more difficult to achieve victory than when the party’s cohesion is intact and all members work together for the common objective of winning the election.