Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki

Governor Godwin Obaseki, once again kicked against the approval of direct primary mode for the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

There have been disagreements between the camp of the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and that of Edo State Governor over the mode to be used for the governorship primary slated for June 22 this year.

Oshiomhole’s camp proposed direct mode, while Obaseki and his supporters vehemently faulted it, insisting that indirect mode be used.

However, Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC) confirmed the approval of direct primary for Edo APC and indirect for other parties that have shown interest in the governorship election including the People’s Democratic Party.

He said the decision was reached at the end of the INEC management meeting held virtually on Tuesday.

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However, Governor Obaseki through his media aide, Crusoe Osagie, said INEC only approved the mode of primary Oshiomhole requested.

“Right now, there is a restraining order on APC, Oshiomhole, and all the other agencies from carrying out any activity relating to the primary in the state pending the determination of the substantive suit before the Court.”

He said aside from the Court order, there is a regulation monitoring the activities due to COVID-19 in Nigeria and Edo state, which prevents anybody to carry out activities that are similar to direct primary election in the state.

According to him, other parties have complied and it is expected that the APC should comply too, adding ‘there is an order on ground preventing people from gathering in all the local governments and 192 wards of the state for the purpose of direct primary.

Also speaking, the factional chairman of the Governor Obaseki’s faction, said there is a court order that restrains anybody from conducting primary in the state.

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He noted that it is not INEC that conducts the primary election but the party.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Oshiomhole’s faction David Imuse said it is the party that has decided on direct primary election and that nobody can change that.

Reacting to the altercation and rising tension over the mode of primary, Okoye had said;

“INEC does not deal with state branches of political parties in matters relating to or connected with the conduct of party primaries.

“Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) makes it mandatory for political parties intending to nominate candidates for elective offices to give the commission 21 days’ notice of its intention to conduct party primaries.

“In our rules and regulations, the letter to this effect is signed by the national chairman and national secretary of political parties indicating the date, time and venue for the conduct of party primaries and the mode of the primaries.

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“The mode of primaries to be adopted by political parties is a function of their constitution, the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the regulations and guidelines issued by INEC.

“So, we don’t have business with state branches of political parties because our rules, regulations and laws say we should relate with the national chairman and the national secretary in terms of fixing party primaries, whether direct or indirect.”