One of the governorship hopefuls in the All Progressives Congress in Edo State, Mr. Kenneth Imansuagbon, is not happy with the outcome of the recent primary held by the party and seeks a review of the entire process. Shola Oyeyipo writes that it may not be uhuru yet for the ruling party in the state as the succession crisis may have begun afresh
Although there were ominous signs of possible post-primary election crisis in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for some of the leaders of the party, however, it was best that the party remains one formidable force and supports the standard bearer, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to win the September 10 governorship election. Initially, after the party’s primary election, there was relative calm – though the deputy governor, Mr. Pius Odubu had stormed out of the venue of the primary, with the promise to reconcile aggrieved parties, it was easy to assume that the party would forge ahead.
But that was not the case last week when one of the leading aspirants in the just concluded APC primaries, Mr. Kenneth Imansuagbon insisted that the elections must be cancelled or else the ruling party stands to face the wrath of the electorate at the general election. He alleged that the exercise was scientifically manipulated in favour of the winner, Mr. Obaseki. Imansuagbon told THISDAY that watermark technology was deployed to rig the election, saying “There must be a forensic examination of the ballot papers. That is the only thing I can accept.”
According to the renowned philanthropist, “Where the party may not be willing to carry out a forensic analysis of the voting material, the election should be cancelled on the grounds that most of the other aspirants are not satisfied with the process.”
Reacting to statements credited to the likes of the Police Commissioner in the state, Mr. Chris Ezike, former State House of Assembly Speaker, Mr Thomas Okosun, one of the aspirants, Mr. Peter Esele and Governor Adams Oshiomhole that the election was free and fair, Imansuagbon said he had approached the Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele-led election appeal committee to reverse the election in the interest of APC.
“No, it was not (free and fair). It was scientifically and electronically manipulated. Watermark technology was used to manipulate the election. You will not see it during the day. You will only see evaporated ink that will vanish in two minutes. One should ask why despite the fact that accreditation finished around 2pm, voting was delayed till around 7pm. Under the floodlight they had allocated the votes to Obaseki.
“We had heard that he was going about saying he was going to win with over 1600 votes, but I considered it mere rumour – that the margin of victory for anyone, who would win should not be more than 20 – 30. Even if Oshiohmole himself ran, he couldn’t have polled that much in an election that has the deputy governor, who also controls the party structure contesting. Even during my days in the Almighty PDP, where we had just a little above 700 delegates, I polled 210. How can someone say out of over 2800 delegates I polled just 247? How does that add up?” he asked.
He said talks about post-primary reconciliation is an exercise in futility as the only option is for the party to reverse the governorship primary or test the popularity of other aspirants at the general election, which could mean that some of the grumbling APC aspirants might be teaming up against Obaseki, who they see as enjoying some form of support from Governor Oshiomhole.
“We are not interested in reconciliation. We are approaching the Hon. Bamidele appeal committee. We are praying them to cancel the election and do a fresh primary. If they don’t do it, what will happen to the APC will be disastrous. If the appeal does not take our plea, then we will take our protest to the court of the people.
“When Anenih rigged me out in the Peoples Democratic Party, I told him he would lose and the party lost. So, the Bamidele committee should cancel the election on the grounds of immorality,” Imansuagbon insisted.
A major bone of contention before the primaries was whether or not the outgoing Governor Oshiomhole would throw his weight behind Obaseki’s candidature and whether or not his support would enable him to clinch the party’s ticket. Indeed, when the party concluded the election, Obaseki, who was chairman of the Edo State Economic and Strategy Team, won.
He polled 1, 618 votes to defeat Governor Adams Oshiomhole deputy, Pius Odubu, who scored 471. Imansuagbon polled 247, former Minister of State for Works, Chris Ogiemwonyi (137), Major General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) (11), Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula (10), Professor Osarheimen Osunbor (nine), Professor Frederick Amadausn (eight), Peter Esele (eight), Blessing Agbonmeire (five), Austin Emuan (four) and Mrs. Tina Agbarha (three) votes.
However, going by some of the political undercurrents, the Edo State APC needs to find a way to quickly make good the words of its Publicity Secretary, Godwin Erhahon, who has assured the people that the party was working to reunite all rival groups that went into the primary to ensure victory for it at the governorship election proper.
This is because feelers coming from the aggrieved aspirants showed that, where the party damns the consequences and ignores them, even if it eventually wins the election, it would come at greater cost than going into the election without enemies from within.
A major bone of contention before the primaries was whether or not the outgoing Governor Oshiomhole would throw his weight behind Obaseki’s candidature and whether or not his support would enable him to clinch the party’s ticket. Indeed, when the party concluded the election, Obaseki, who was chairman of the Edo State Economic and Strategy Team, won