Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki says the All Progressives Congress’ National Working Committee  has no power to decide how  the party governorship primary in  state will be conducted.

The primary has been scheduled to hold next month, with the governorship poll  fixed for September.

The APC NWC headed  by Adams Oshiomhole  has ordered   direct primary.

Obaseki has been locked in a fierce battle  with  Oshiomhole over the control of the party in Edo.

The governor,  who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy,  Crusoe Osagie, on Friday, said the NWC could not take any decisions on the primary without the National Executive Committee of the party.

Obaseki said, “That report was a scoop, there was no meeting of the NWC in which the decision was taken. If the Oshiomhole camp is having it at the back of their minds that it is what they want to do, they don’t have the power to do that.

“The power to direct what kind of primary to do rests on  NEC and NEC at the last meeting  decided that because of the dissenting voices, all modes of primary should be decided by the different state chapters as it was done in Kogi and Bayelsa. In Kogi, for example, they determined the kind of primary they wanted, and in Bayelsa, the same thing happened.

“So, in Edo, the same method will be adopted, according to the rules of NEC. We will now write the NWC to say this is the mode of primary that we want.”

Osagie  said  a statement from a senior member of the party and former governor of the state  (Chief John Odigie-Oyegun) had already confirmed that the President had adopted Obaseki and  Ondo State Govenor, Rotimi Akeredolu, as the preferred candidates for the governorship elections unless they decided not to run.

The issue of the conduct of the primary has become a major topic among political observers in the state even as the  various political groups strategise  towards presenting a formidable aspirant against Obaseki in the primary.

Our correspondent learnt that  the  direct primary  would involve all registered card-carrying members of the party in each council.

However, it remains unclear how the Edo   APC’s   direct primary will be conducted as the party remains factionalised, with one side loyal to Obaseki and the other to Oshiomhole.

Meanwhile, a political analyst and former Chairman of  the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Julius Iyasele, said except something was done urgently to resolve the crisis, the state could be  heading to anarchy.

He said, “I do not see how the primary will be conducted in such a way that a common candidate will be presented  in the Edo governorship election as  things are now. Both parties have remained adamant and stuck to their guns; the search for truce by sincere men in  this matter has failed on many occasions. I am afraid we are heading for anarchy.”

INEC begins meeting with stakeholders on Edo, Ondo polls next week

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission  says it will start meeting with Edo and Ondo election stakeholders from May 30. The Edo  governorship poll  has been  scheduled for  September 19  and the Ondo version  for October 10.

INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, revealed  these in a statement  on Thursday night after the body’s  meeting where the “Policy on conducting elections in the context of  the COVID-19 pandemic” was approved.

According to him, INEC is planning for nine bye-elections in  seven states in addition to the Edo and Ondo polls

He said the bye-elections would hold in  Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Imo North Senatorial District, Plateau South Senatorial District, Cross River North Senatorial District, and Nganzai State Constituency, Borno State.

Others are Bayo State Constituency, Borno State, Nasarawa Central State Constituency in Nasarawa State and Bakori State Constituency in Katsina State

Okoye said,  “Citizens must be assured that they will be safe while participating as voters, candidates and officials.

Also, a  faction of the  Edo State chapter of the APC  loyal to  the National Chairman on Friday claimed  it had uncovered plans by the state government to scuttle  the party’s governorship  primary.

In a letter by the  factional Secretary of the party in the state, Lawrence Okah, and addressed to the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, the group,  led by David Imuse, alleged that Obaseki had ordered  the testing of “fictitious”300,000 persons for COVID-19 to announce fake positive results to use  the development  to scuttle the June 22  primary.

Okah said, “It has come to our notice that the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has concluded plans to scuttle the primary election of the All Progressives Congress scheduled to hold on June 22. The pretext is that if held, the primary election will escalate cases of COVID-19  in Edo.”

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