The All Progressives Congress (APC) is conducting its primary election for the forthcoming governorship poll in Edo State amid the lingering crisis in the party which led to the suspension of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and the exit of the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, from the party.
The Secretary of the APC Governorship Primary Election Committee, Ajibola Bashiru, said on Sunday that nothing would stop the election from holding on Monday.
Bashiru, who was a guest on Sunday Politics on Channels TV, said, “We are set to conduct primary in Edo State. We have met with the leadership of the state. We have appointed presiding officers in line with the guidelines of the party at local government and ward levels.”
According to him, the exercise will commence by 8am at all 192 wards in 18 local government areas of the state.
The party is conducting the exercise despite the warning by the state government that the APC must apply for a waiver before organising a political gathering in any part of the state, as it battles the spread of COVID-19.
“By the grace of God, the polling will open by 8 a.m at all 192 wards in 18 local governments of the state. Security agencies have assured that they will act without fear or favour,” he said.
Speaking on compliance with the state government’s COVID-19 regulations, Mr Bashiru said only 18 persons would be allowed to gather at the same time during voting to the point of announcement of result.
“Not more than 18 persons including presiding officers and Independent National Electoral Commission observers shall be at ward voting centre at any point in time to carry out their activities without violation of the state’s COVID-19 regulations,” he said on Channels.
He enjoined voters to be peaceful and comply fully with the state’s COVID-19 regulations.
On approval by the state government, Mr Bashiru said “the committee has no obligation to tender or submit the guidelines for the party’s primary”.
“The governor is not our member. So, we cannot share our party’s information with them.”
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Benin City had fixed June 22 to decide on the mode of primary to be used by the party for the exercise.
The APC screening committee for the primary election had disqualified the governor and two other candidates, saying Obaseki was declared unfit to participate in the exercise because of his “defective certificates”.
In his reaction, Governor Obaseki rejected the committee’s decision and accused his predecessor of frustrating his effort of seeking re-election.
Oshiomhole, however, denied the allegation and explained that the party was only trying to ensure the best candidate was fielded in the September 19 election.
On Thursday last week, the APC National Working Committee (NWC)-backed acting national chairman, Hilliard Eta, inaugurated the Governorship rimary Election and Appeal committees.
The Governorship Primary Election Committee is chaired by Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, with Senator Bashiru as its secretary and five others as members.
On the other hand, the Appeal Committee has Dr Yusuf Naaji as chairman and Dr Kayode Ajulo as its secretary, with three others as members.
The party had inaugurated the committees two days after Governor Obaseki resigned his membership from the APC.
He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday last week and was granted a waiver to contest for an elective office on the party’s platform with about three months to the election.
The governor has since been screened by the PDP committee and has been welcomed into the party by the PDP Governors’ Forum, former presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, among other party leaders.
Following Obaseki’s exit from the APC, the crisis in the party took a new twist as two conflicting declarations emerged over the suspension of Oshiomhole from the party.
While about 17 APC executive members of Ward 10 in Etsako West Local Government Area (LGA) said the decision had been reviewed in the interest of peace, the ward chairman insisted that the embattled national chairman remained suspended from the party.