Oshiomhole must be stopped from gifting Edo to opposition —APC Publicity Secretary

Pastor Joseph Osagiede, Publicity Secretary, All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo State, speaks on issues surrounding the party’s fortunes ahead of the primary election scheduled for June 22, 2020 and how the rift between the APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki can affect the party in the forthcoming governorship election. Excerpts:

 

THERE seems to be a lot of uncertainties in the Edo APC. What is the true position of things in the party?

There is really no major crisis in the party. We just have a man at the helm of affairs at the national level that is power drunk and irrational in his thinking. I say this with every sense of respect to his position.

 

What informed the choice of indirect primaries by the APC in Edo?

We are very mindful of the health and wellbeing of our people, knowing that the office of the governor is not worth the blood of any Edolite. As a party, we have been very worried about the community spread of COVID -19. When the pandemic started, we had people who were importing the virus from outside Edo State and all efforts that were put in place by the state government were to curtail the movement of these people and the further spread of the virus. But now, we have the problem of community spread of the virus, which is even more serious. To curtail this spread, we followed the constitutional provision and laws laid down by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of our party, which clearly notes that through the State Executive Committee (SEC), states should choose their preferred mode of primary and indicate same to the National Working Committee (NWC) in writing. In APC, the system flows from down to up and not from up to down; hence we wrote to the NWC that to avoid the dangers of community spread of COVID-19, we would rather prefer to use indirect mode of primaries.

 

What are the significant differences between the direct and indirect modes of primary?

I want to tell you that party primaries are not peaceful contestations and should not be construed as a get-together; it is a fierce battle of who owns the land and the party. We know that that there are some wards in Oredo that have over 60,000 card-carrying members, while some in my own Orhionmwon are with over 35,000 members. Also, some wards in Etsako and Owan have over 40,000 members respectively. So, it is laughable to hear some unscrupulous individuals try to misinform the people that only 120,000 party members will come out for the primary. Are they saying that these 120,000 persons make up the number of APC members in the 192 wards of Edo State? That’s totally false. By direct primaries, we expect that a minimum of 600,000 persons will be out on that day and if you spread that number in 192 polling points for such a high-wire exercise, there is bound to be lots of physical contacts, acrimony and likely fisticuffs. Hence, we can’t guarantee that there will be no community spread of the virus during such an exercise. This is as opposed to our own position, the indirect primary, which allows delegates that were elected in the party’s last congress come together at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to elect aspirants for the party. These persons put together are less than 4,000 and are from all the wards and units in Edo. The plan is to bring these persons to the stadium, run temperature tests for all delegates, allow them cast their ballot and exit, while ensuring strict compliance with the compulsory use of facemasks and other precautionary measures, including social distancing, hand washing and the use of sanitisers, under very hygienic conditions, after which there will proper fumigation/sanitisation of the facility. But because they know that this mode of election doesn’t give room for rigging, falsification, and manipulation, they are kicking against it. We have since gone past that level of politicking in Nigeria.

 

In the light of the recent court order restraining the APC from conducting primary in Edo, what options are available for the party?

The government has clearly indicated its preference for an indirect mode of primary in Edo State. Going forward, the government has also gazetted a law prohibiting the gathering of more than 20 persons for political reasons anywhere in Edo State outside the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. The opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in compliance with the gazette, wrote to the government to be granted access to use the stadium for their own primaries and it has been so granted. So if the opposition can comport itself and abide by the law, why should the National Chairman of the ruling party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, in his radical calculation, think that he can boycott the laws of the land, override the governor and the laws of Edo State and do what he wants. Nigeria is not a banana republic. Edo is no banana state.

 

We hear that the APC secretariat in Edo has been relocated by the national chairman. Does he have the constitutional powers to do so?

There is no way the Edo APC secretariat will be relocated by the national chairman. He has no locus standi to do so. Our constitution states clearly in Article 8, from the first volume, that the National Secretariat will locate a place for itself and inform the National Executive Committee of a Secretariat that they intend to use. Likewise, the State Executive Committee will locate a Secretariat for itself and inform the National Executive Committee. Nothing concerns National Working Committee (NWC) in the process.  But today Oshiomhole has written to DSS [Department of State Security] and police to say that the party has relocated. What concerns him with the movement of state’s APC secretariat? Absolutely nothing. Is he a member of the State Executive Committee? No. Does he have powers to write such letters? No. He has no right whatsoever to write such letter. So you can see that it is a deliberate plot to create anarchy and confusion in the state and make the authorities consider calling for a state of emergency in Edo. That’s his game plan. In fact, that is anti-party activity for which the National Executive Committee should meet and expel him from the party. Let me reiterate that we have not indicated any intention to relocate our secretariat. Our secretariat remains at No. 59, Airport Road, Benin City. Our party chairman remains intact, Governor Obaseki remains the leader of the party in the state and the State Executive Committee remains intact. Really, we don’t know what he fighting for if not his selfish interest.

 

Are you not worried Edo could go the Zamfara and Rivers way as a result of the rift between the governor and national chairman?

In every state where we have had problems, it has always been Oshiomhole versus that state, not that those states had problems that they couldn’t resolve. But the problem was Oshiomhole. In Zamfara, it was Oshiomhole and the APC, same in Sokoto, Bayelsa, Imo and Edo. How would you as national chairman create a faction in your own state? He started fanning the embers of discord by creating a faction and now he is creating an office for that faction. Is Oshiomhole now going to call those dissidents members of the APC and say that the governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the state party chairman, Anselm Ojezua, and other members of the State Executive Committee are no longer in Edo APC? We have since discovered that Oshiomhole is doing what he is doing to APC deliberately. Here is a man who was handed over 26 states about two and a half years ago from his predecessor. As of today, he has lost six and the way he is going, he is at the point of losing Edo to the opposition.  Anyway, he doesn’t mind if APC losses the election. In fact, that is his main goal. But we won’t allow him.

 

Why is the Edo APC so confident in the candidacy of Obaseki despite frantic efforts by those against his second term ambition to stop him?

If Oshiomhole himself doesn’t think Governor Obaseki will win, he won’t be fighting this much. He knows that the man has won the hearts of over 99 per cent of Edolites. Oshiomhole knows that Obaseki has worked even beyond his own imagination and beyond the expectations of Edo people. He knows the man can’t be accused of corruption, negligence, or being parochial and sectional in his developmental strides. He knows Obaseki is not tribalistic or nepotistic. Oshiomhole knows that the incumbent governor is upright and articulate. What the former union leader has succeeded in doing is to tell the world that the common wealth of Edo people should be shared among a few persons in the state. He is making us believe that he is bringing someone who will share the Edo’s resources amongst a minute few of the state’s population rather than someone who would use these funds to work for the good of all Edolites. Unfortunately for him, we have gone past such a stage in our politics where an intangible fraction of Edolites will hold on to the resources of the state to the detriment of the entire state.

 

What are the expectations from the party in the coming days?

I think there’s going to be serious intervention from either the Presidency or the court of law that will put to rest Oshiomhole’s destructive method of politicking. I believe that he will be stopped. Otherwise, we should all bid farewell to the APC in Edo State.

 

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