The battle by various aspirants for the tickets of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State for the 2019 general elections is over with the emergence of the legislative candidates, CAJETAN MMUTA reports
Stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Edo State have every reason to be grateful and much happier now. This is given the air of successes over the recently conducted national and state Assembly primaries in the 192 wards of the state.
This is more important considering the crisis in some states where the party is deeply rooted. Beyond the seeming cold war that has almost consumed the various camps believed to be loyal to the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki and his political godfather as well as the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, no one could have imagined the place of the legacy parties in the state by now.
But as providence would have it, wisdom, self respect and regard for the image of the party, dexterity and timely intervention by the national secretariat of the party and core owners of the fold were quick to go for their thinking caps to save the party from implosion.
Of course, the opposition in the state was set to roll out the drums to celebrate APC’s failure, but that was not be as the 10-man panel deployed to the state by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, painstakingly ensured a racour-free primaries.
The scheduled primaries for the national and state Assembly tickets were greeted by complaints as some aggrieved aspirants kicked against the conduct of the exercise.
There were also indications that the members of the NWC in a dramatic twist announced the outright cancellation of the entire exercise as a credible source close to the party disclosed the party’s decision to send a new panel to the Heart Beat state was to ensure a peaceful and credible party primaries in the state.
Some of the aggrieved APC aspirants, especially those drawn from the Central and North senatorial districts of the state had called on Oshiomhole to take urgent steps to cancel the entire process as well as called for the conduct of fresh primaries that would pave way for the people to elect candidates of their choice.
There were allegations of hijack of members of the seven-man panel sent to the state by the NWC of the APC for the conduct of the primaries. Also, there was an accusation of financial inducement, sack threats by forces in government over failure by party leaders and chairmen of 18 local government councils in the state to deliver choice candidates and alleged doctoring of results to ensure the emergence of those tagged as “establishment candidates” loyal to Governor Obaseki against others tagged as “Oshiomhole’s men.”
A former member of the House of Representatives and an aspirant for the Edo Central Senatorial seat, Hon Patrick Ikhariale at a press conference in Ekpoma, described the earlier stated primaries as a sham, a shame and a negation of the values of the APC as well as true democracy.
Ikhariale said he would seek for a redress through the party’s machinery and warned that the APC risks losing at the polls during the 2019 general elections should the process be allowed to stand.
He said: “What happened today leaves a negative impression and it is unfortunate for the party. It was a total charade and a jamboree. The primaries do not represent the ethos and political value of the APC. It was done in a brutal manner because some people do not belong to the establishment group.”
On his part, an aspirant into the state House of Assembly for Esan Central, Prince Kingsley Shaka Momodu, called for the sacking of the APC state executives for allowing an aspirant whose name was not in the register to participate in the election.
The lawmaker representing Akoko-Edo constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Peter Akpatason, said the primaries only took place in Ward 9 and Ward 4. He condemned in strong terms the exercise, saying it was marred by thuggery orchestrated by his political opponent.
“In Ward 3, where I was leading, my opponent relocated to a bear parlour, where the results were written,” he alleged.
But when the dust finally settled following mounted pressure and quick response for rescheduled primaries, a new panel deployed by the NWC, finally, at weekend released results of the rescheduled national and state Assembly primaries held across the state.
Shockingly, the panel cancelled the results of the House of Representatives for Akoko Federal constituency, citing violence in the area. Members of the panel said the result for the winners of the House of Representatives and the state House of Assembly would be released in due course after thorough investigations and decision by the body.
Chairman of the panel, Hajia Farida Suleiman, who announced the outcome of the primaries considered as free, fair and credible at the APC secretariat in Benin, said the body was able to achieve success in the entire process and scored above 80 per cent in all, adding that there were no losers or winners in the exercise.
Hajia Suleiman commended Oshiomhole for finding the panel members worthy to serve and therefore urged members of the ruling party in the state to unite and rally round all the candidates to ensure the party’s success during the 2019 general elections.
According to the results of the party primaries for the Senate race, the former Chief of Staff to ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who represented Oredo federal constituency, Hon. Patrick Obaghiagbon scored 90,140 votes to clinch the ticket for Edo South senatorial district; a two-time commissioner for Finance under Oshiomhole’s administration and also present Finance Commissioner under the Governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr. John Inegbedion polled 27,293 votes to beat his opponents in the contest for Edo Central senatorial district. In Edo North senatorial district, incumbent Senator Francis Alimikhena also secured the party’s ticket for a possible return to the red chambers.
Hajia Suleiman said of the exercise: “The committee observed skirmishes in some wards in Edo North and Central senatorial districts, but we are grateful to the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, who brought the situation under control. We are happy no life was lost despite the tension in those areas, our party members trouped out to cast their votes for their preferred candidates.”
On the House of Representatives results for Ovia Federal constituency, youthful and popular business magnate as well as a former commissioner for Foreign Investments, Small and Medium Businesses during the government of ex-Governor Oshiomhole, Hon. Dennis Idahosa, scored 18,566 votes to beat Engr. Isaac Osahon, who represented the constituency between 2011 and 2015; Hon. Osaigbovbo Iyoha (Oredo federal constituency) polled 18,496 votes to beat Omorede Osifo; Joseph Ekpea (Esan North East/Esan South East) scored 9,328 votes; incumbent lawmaker Hon. Patrick Aisowiere (Orhionmwon/Uhunmwonde federal constituency) polled 18,348 votes to beat his challenger and former speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie.
However, aside breathing the air of relief after the much silent but loud political horse trading, Governor Obaseki and his camp must be aware by now that his predecessor (Oshiomhole) is not a pushover. Oshiomhole, to his credit, no doubt, laid a strong and solid foundation; installed and also oiled a resounding machinery of what of can best be described today as a stable political environment in Edo state.
He instituted the generally accepted one man, one vote syndrome now in the polity; sent the godfathers away and demystified through vocal speaking of hard truth to power, effective allocation and distribution of resources, populous followership and empowerment programmes.
The evergreen testimonies of these are litany in the the people hearts and parts of the state. Although, one needs remind the diminutive political war monger, Oshiomhole too, that he is no saint; he has his numerous faults and so are mountains of critics against his antics and styles. On the other hand, Governor Obaseki’s political briefcase has been laid bare for all to see his technocracy. Apparently and deadly too, he has tactically taken to carving own political structure with reputable foot soldiers.
Admittedly, Obaseki, no doubt, is also human, having been taught and learnt the political ropes from his henchmen too. He cannot be dismissed completely too with a wave of hands, though, as an administrator he seems. However, the governor must, be advised urgently, if ever he listens too, to soften his hard stance, grip on tough rigidity on political issues and decisions as they concern the party and its owners who labored to have him as the chief steward of the state, especially, at this auspicious moment.
He should reflect on most sincerely that democracy has no place with such stern postures. No political party ever survives without the people who are its founders, owners and that of the government of the day. This missing link has been the basic frowns by majority of leaders and key founding members of the APC who felt abandoned and marginalized by the present government. The current raging silent war for self definition, assertion and rediscovery, rightly or wrongly is good but may be tragic and regrettable at this time.
Like the wren bird, no one ever engages his chi or god in any war. The campaigns leading to elections are around the corner and it is no one man’s task but a collective one. No one ever dances to the rhythms echoing from any sonorous music or messages of campaign loud speakers with empty stomachs.
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