As APC Prepares for Edo Guber Primary…

The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress recently met with stakeholders in Edo state as part of efforts to have a rancour-free governorship primary in February, 2024. At the last count,  about 29 aspirants are jostling for the party’s gubernatorial ticket, Adedayo Akinwale Reports.

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) penultimate Monday held a meeting with party stakeholders from Edo state ahead of the governorship primary election scheduled for February 17, 2024.

The reason for the troubleshooting effort was aimed at having a rancour-free primary election considering the increasing number of aspirants who had indicated interest to contest. As at the last count, 29 aspirants have already indicated interest to contest the party’s primary.

The National Chairman of the party, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje said the meeting was to discuss important issues about having a hitch-free gubernatorial election in September 2024. He said since the NWC led by him was sworn in as the new or reformed NWC, it had said it would not be business as usual because the party as a progressive party is supposed to be one with clear-cut objectives.

To this end, Ganduje said it was time to take Edo back from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He said it was not acceptable that the ruling party only has one state in the South-South.

According to him: “We were only able to get Cross River State. After crossing so many rivers we succeeded in getting Cross River State. But Edo State, we must get it by the grace of God.”

At the meeting, far-reaching resolutions were arrived at which the various tendencies in Edo state chapter of the party appeared to be at home with, as they were considered germane in order to prevent what happened in the party in 2020.

Checks revealed that prior to the 2020 governorship primary, the governor, Godwin Obaseki was screened out by the screening committee set up by the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC due to irreconcilable differences.

Based on this, Obaseki was forced to seek refuge in the PDP where he was given the governorship ticket and eventually won re-election.

However, briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon Duro Meseko, said the party has kicked against zoning of the governorship position, while it also adopted the direct mode of primary for picking its candidate for the Edo election.

He said: “In view of the large number of aspirants, 29, as of last (Monday) night, the NWC urged stakeholders to unite and see to how we can achieve some reasonable number of aspirants. The stakeholders were urged to devise methods to agree on some form of consensus to trim the number of aspirants.

“The NWC urged aspirants to be disciplined and shun the temptation of rushing to the courts immediately after primaries. There will be no zoning. Not at all.”

Meseko noted that the ruling party would attach a letter of undertaking to its nomination forms which aspirants are expected to sign indicating that whatever the outcome of the primary election is, they would not seek redress in court.

Moreso, for the smooth running of the party, the APC was of the opinion that all members of the party in Edo state should ensure strict compliance with their financial obligations to the party.

To this end, the party resolved that electronic registration of party members would henceforth be suspended until after the primary in order not to derail the exercise in the State.

Meanwhile, the leader of the party in the state,  Comrade Adams Oshiomhole said he and other stakeholders are determined to reclaim Edo. He said democracy based on popular participation might be more difficult but cannot be faulted, saying it allows for building consensus.

Oshiomhole maintained that they are determined to reclaim Edo State. He admitted that they lost the state due to several factors caused by some APC elements.

He recalled that when Ganduje was the Governor of Kano state, he offered to lead the last campaign and even relocated to Benin for days to ensure that the party won the last governorship election, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Oshiomhole said, “Giving your commitment the other time when you did not have any obligation, but rather voluntarily accepting to lead and to help us win the election in Edo, now I believe you have a duty much more compelling to see that this election is won.

“On our part, we have tried to initiate dialogue among our aspirants. It is no secret that at the time we had the dialogue, I think they (aspirants) were 27. I learned it has increased to 29 now. The process is ongoing, and the struggle continues.”

Be that as it may, the effort of the national leadership of the party to have a rancour-free primary election might have hit the rock as some party stakeholders in the state have accused Oshiomhole of having personal interest in who becomes the candidate of the party.

Against this background, a group, Concerned Edo APC Stakeholders, have called on Ganduje and President Bola Tinubu, and other party leaders to call Oshiomhole and his co-travelers to order ahead of the Edo state governorship primary.

Without mincing words, the stakeholders said Oshiomhole does not have the authority to constitute a screening committee for the primary election.

The stakeholders in a statement issued by Dr. Atsikidi Leonard and nine others, said it was worth noting that Oshiomhole’s previous usurpation of nomination powers, as witnessed in the nomination of Godwin Obaseki and Philip Shuaibu as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively in 2016, resulted in the party’s opposition status in Edo State today.

The party stakeholders noted that it was evident that he intends to repeat this indelible error in 2024.

It said: “The Concerned Edo APC Stakeholders would like to clarify and correct the false alarm and wrong impressions being peddled by enemies of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Edo State regarding the rumored report of a Committee  set up to interact with Edo 2024 APC governorship aspirants.”

The stakeholders said in line with the NWC’s guidelines, a consultative meeting was held with stakeholders of the party from Edo State on Monday, January 15, 2024.

It added that during the meeting, the stakeholders were urged to unite in trimming the number of aspirants due to the large number of individuals vying for the party’s ticket in Edo State.

It noted that Oshiomhole set up a six-man committee to interface with the aspirants and make recommendations on how the number could be reduced.

It said: “The committee was not a screening committee as that is the prerogative of the APC National Working Committee. Edo people were shocked when the news broke out that this Oshiomhole committee had initially recommended ten names among the aspirants and on meeting with Comrade Oshiomhole was told to further remove some names and make the total six.

“We would like to state for the record that Comrade Senator Adams Oshiomhole does not have the authority to constitute a screening committee as he is neither the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress nor a member of the NWC.

“Furthermore, only aspirants who have completed and submitted their forms can be screened by the committee established by the NWC for this purpose.”

The stakeholders added that the scheduled date for the screening of aspirants, as outlined in the approved timetable by the NWC, was between 8th and 9th February 2024.

The aggrieved stakeholders stressed that the Oshiomhole committee unlawfully assumed the functions of the NWC and were unfortunately coerced by Oshiomhole to submit a report in variance of their earlier recommendation which is in the public domain.

“We hereby call on the national chairman of the APC, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje,  President Bola Tinubu, and other well-meaning party leaders in Edo State and across Nigeria, to intervene and restrain  Adams Oshiomhole and his co-travelers,” it added.

The stakeholders maintained that the APC in Edo state should not be plunged into unnecessary crisis ahead of the 2024 governorship election.

“It is common knowledge that Comrade Oshiomhole has a personal interest in who becomes the Edo State Governor. We, therefore, reject his undue influence and demand that he stays clear of the Edo 2024 APC governorship primaries,” it added.

With the look of things, if party stakeholders in the state do not tread with caution, the ruling APC might once again end up being the opposition party in the Heart beat of the nation.

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