By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Chairman of Edo State All Progressives Congress primary to pick a gubernatorial candidate for the party today, Governor Aminu Bello Masari has promised that he would be fair to all aspirants in the election.
Meanwhile, the Police has assured that it has mobilised 1,200 personnel and other sister security agencies like the Department of State Security Services to ensure a hitch-free primaries for the party today.
Meanwhile, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has charged the Committee to ensure that the same rules which produced a successful primary election in Kogi State were used in the Edo APC primary election.
Speaking yesterday during a courtesy visit of the Committee to Governor Oshiomhole in his office, Alhaji Masari said “we are here to conduct primaries for those who are contesting to be the next governor of Edo State. We will abide by the guidelines of the party, and we also assure all aspirants that we will be just and fair to all. We are not angels, but certainly we hope, that by the time we finish, the appeal committee will have no work because if truly the candidates are interested in the state, in the party and in the country, we assure them that the outcome will be an outcome that will stand the test of time. I hope that all they are doing is in the interest of Edo State, and they know that out of the 12, only one must emerge.
“So, the process has been laid down, and I hope they will comply with the process as well. And we assure them that we will do justice to all.
We hope they will cooperate in the best interest of the people of Edo State and Nigeria. I intend to meet them this evening and rub minds with them and ensure they are more conversant with the guidelines, the rules. I will hear them out, and we will certainly come out with an acceptable position. And I hope there won’t be any violence because if there is anything that can mar primaries or elections, it is violence. Anybody who is not satisfied, the party has laid down guidelines on the issues of petitions, complaints.
But in his response, Governor Adams Oshiomhole who welcomed members the committee to Edo State said, “We are confident that the national secretariat couldn’t have had a better person to provide leadership for democratic exercise. Let me also appreciate you for coming along with very senior members of the government of Katsina State. By their level, there is no question that you have a very strong supportive crew that will ensure the assignment is made much easier for you.
“On my part, my own task is very simple. It is to ensure that, as they call us, as chief security officers, that there is full security certainly for your Excellency and members of your committee and delegation, but also there is security for all the aspirants and all the delegates and accredited agents of aspirants. We have had very peaceful elections in the past when we were even the underdogs. We have no history of spilling blood for election purpose. Even when the party that is notorious for violence, the PDP was in charge at the federal level, we were able to manage. Even when they harassed us, we concentrated on persuading our people, and we have continued to prevail.”
“For me, therefore, like I told the aspirants when I met them three days ago, I said this should be our finest hour in Edo State. This is the only time we are going to have an election when our own party is at the federal level.
“We have had a very bad press in the past few weeks mostly arising from false alarm and distorted story and half-truths here and there. But I had a very interesting engagement with the aspirants, and I assured them, and your coming today has confirmed that, that under the party constitution it is the national secretariat that will appoint those who will superintend over the conduct of the primaries, and therefore, the governor’s bias or alleged bias is therefore of no consequence. And so, people should be rest assured of a level playing field, and by the time people hear that the committee is headed by a governor, at least nobody is going to accuse a governor of being bribed.
“The only thing I hope is that our party must ensure that regardless of our individual interest like you said, the process is what matters. And talking about process is to talk about rules. The rules for the conduct of Edo primaries should not be different from the same rules that were used in Kogi State which we are all familiar with, including the rules of accreditation so that we don’t open the window for people to manipulate and create doubtful criteria. Once the rules are the same as we have known them, there should be no problem, but if you change rules from station to station, then there will be issues as to why we are you bending the rules here. When the goal post remains where it is, all players regardless of the team they belong to know that this is the goal post, and if you want to score, you know where to aim at.”
Other members of the Masari Committee are Shuaibu Musa, Former National Financial Secretary of the APC, Rt. Hon Babangida Nguroje, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Babangida Pate and Hon Azeez Mohammed.
Also on the Governor’s entourage were Mustapha Mohammed Inuwa, Secretary to Katsina State Government, Bello Mandiya, Chief of Staff, among others.