. We don’t need Obaseki’s permit for our direct primary- APC
. We’ll enforce gazette to check spread of COVID-19, says Edo govt
Edo State Government and the All Progressives Congress are set for a showdown over the order recently gazetted by the state that political parties must first secure the approval of the governor before holding any gathering.
At the weekend, while the APC insist that it did not require any permit from Governor Godwin Obaseki to hold its June 22 direct primary in the state, the state government said that it would enforce the gazette as it was only interested in every gathering in the state complying with the COVID-19 prevention protocol.
As at Sunday morning, the state government had yet to receive any request from the APC for permit to hold its Direct Primary scheduled for tomorrow (Monday).
Governor Obaseki had in a gazette signed on May 28 and published on June 5, banned political gatherings that could make direct primary possible in the state, stipulating that only indirect primary could be held in the state and in only one location in Benin, the state capital.
Part of the governor’s gazetted order 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.”
Obaseki had stated that the law was in line with his administration’s determination to check the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
But the APC dismissed it, arguing that it was a political move to stop it from conducting its direct primary to choose its governorship candidate.
Only APC, out of the 15 political parties in Edo organising primary elections has chosen the direct mode, according to Independent National Electoral Commission. The remaining 14 chose indirect primary.
But dismissing Governor Obaseki’s gazette, APC National Vice Chairman (South South), Hilliard Eta, said that as a law-abiding party, it believed that only the Federal Government had the powers to make such order.
According to him, “Under the law, as it is operational in Nigeria today, it is only the Federal Government that has powers to make laws under a pandemic such as the coronavirus as we have it today. The gazette that Obaseki has signed says not more than 50 persons can gather.
“In any case, since we now have only one aspirant left, we don’t have to have any permit to conduct our affirmation.
“All we need to do is to ask the question, ‘Do you want Pastor Ize-Iyamu, yes or no,’ finish. If he (Obaseki) likes, let him say people should not gather at all, we will do the affirmation in the various houses of our members.”
However, Governor Obaseki’s Media Adviser, Mr Crusoe Osagie, explained that the gazette was still in force and that the state government would enforce it.
He said the government would ensure that every gathering in any part of the state complied with the COVID-19 prevention protocol, adding that there was nothing political about the law as it was meant to protect the people of the state from deadly diseases.
The governor’s media aide stated that Obaseki, as a responsible leader, owed it a duty to the people and residents of the state to protect them from unnecessary exposure to diseases, especially during a pandemic such as COVID-19 still ravaging the entire world.
He said, “We have not received any request for a permit by the APC to hold primary. The state gazette is still in force and will be enforced. It is a requirement.”
The Edo APC governorship primary holds on Monday, June 22, while that of the PDP is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, 2020.
However, First News learnt that two of the other aspirants cleared by the APC’s screening committee, Osaro Obazee and Dr Pius Odubu, had withdrawn from tomorrow’s governorship primary, leaving only Pastor Ize-Iyamu in the race.