The Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa has raised the alarm over what it described as the inherent dangers of conducting indirect primaries by political parties in Edo State.
The group in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Mr. Steve Adepoju said “The choice of whether or not the All Progressives Congress should conduct a direct or indirect primary should not be made a partisan issue, but should rather be viewed through common sense especially as it pertains to public health.”
“On one side, you have the Edo State Government, led by the Governor, Godwin Obaseki, agitating for the adoption of an indirect primary because, according to him, it represents the best chance to conduct a political event of that nature in the state without compromising its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
“To further strong-arm the political party and other stakeholders into choosing the indirect mode of primary, the governor has gone ahead to pass a gazette banning political gathering of more than 20 persons in the state, leaving only allowance for a large gathering at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City for political purpose, specifically the conduct of primaries.”
Article 20 (iv) of the APC constitution, on the procedure for nomination, elections and appointments of president, governor, Senate, House of Representatives, House of Assembly, local government council chairmen, among others stated that for the nomination of a candidate through indirect primaries, it shall be done at a designated venue for that purpose, by an Electoral College of delegates democratically elected by members of the party from the various wards contained in the particular constituency at congresses.
“While we may shy away from analysing the intention behind the choice of the indirect primary by the state government in light of the open and vocal opposition of the governor’s second-term agenda expressed by the majority of registered party members expected to vote in a direct primary, when one examines carefully the processes involved in conducting an indirect primary, it becomes immediately obvious that the state government is either being willfully ignorant or insincere with its claims.”
“For the sake of those who may not be familiar with the process, an indirect mode of primary is one that simply involves the use of elected delegates who, in place of all registered members of the party in the case of direct primary, vote at a congress to choose the party’s flagbearer.”
“It is important to note the phrase “elected delegates” as it introduces the next point on how these delegates are elected and why a forced indirect primary choice through targeted gazette, given the peculiarity of the times and the shortage of resources, is a needless duplication of process that could birth a constitutional crisis, endanger public health, and weaken the strength of democracy in Edo State.”
“Delegates, according to the APC constitution, must be elected through a direct primary election involving all registered members of the party across all the wards in the state. In simpler words, before arriving at the thousands of delegates, the governor wants to converge at the stadium at a time any form of gathering is discouraged unless absolutely necessary, the political party will still have to conduct a direct primary, using the party register, and seeking the participation of all registered members to elect these delegates.”
“The next logical question for anyone following would be: what then is the difference between a direct primary conducted to elect delegates for a later congress and one conducted to elect party candidates in a straightforward manner without the added layer of a grand event that could cause an explosion of COVID-19 infection in the state? The answer is nothing. The process is essentially the same.”
“This, therefore, makes unreasonable the argument of the government that it chose the indirect primary to avoid the supposed health dangers that come with the direct primary mode. The reality is that there can be no indirect primary without first conducting a direct primary across the wards to elect delegates, unless the governor intends to violate the constitution and cause a political crisis that his poorly-conceived gazette already threatens.”