Ahead of the June 22 governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki has insisted that there would be no direct primary in the state, stressing that only indirect primary could hold in the state in accordance with the rule gazetted in newspapers on Friday.
The new rule partly reads, “That in respect of political gatherings for the purpose of conducting primaries for any of the parties desiring to field candidates in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, gatherings of more than 20 persons may be allowed, subject to the written approval of the Governor, if such gatherings do not exceed 5,000 persons; hold in Benin City and in a single facility with a large seating capacity of not less than 10,000 persons; are provided with adequate health, safety and sanitary facilities and are COVID-19 response compliant with social distancing policy, hand-washing and proper use of face masks fully observed.”
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, told one of our correspondents on Saturday, “The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has said in its briefings that states should manage the pandemic through measures unique to their states.
“On the basis of that, we have deployed this measure in Edo State, the rule has been gazetted and so direct primaries cannot hold here as far as that regulation is concerned. So, it has to be indirect, in order to be working in line with the extant rule in the state.
“The only mode of primary that is permissible according to that law is indirect primaries, and we believe it is correct to do so because for that option, it is just one location and you can deploy all agencies of government responsible for ensuring compliance with the protocols.”
When reminded that the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, already wrote to INEC that the party would use direct mode of primary, Osagie said, “He can write, and the fact that he wrote doesn’t mean that is what is going to happen. The rules have to be followed. Don’t forget that the first responsibility of the governor is to protect the lives and property of the people.”
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, told newsmen in Abuja that the commission’s rules, regulations and laws allowed it to only relate with the national chairman and national secretary of political parties, insisting that the decision of the party chairman will be followed.