Independent National Electoral Commission, on Tuesday, approved the direct primaries mode for the All Progressives Congress primaries for the Edo State governorship election, scheduled for 19th September 2020.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, announced this in Abuja at the end of the INEC management virtual meeting.
Okoye said in accordance with Sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), 15 out of the 18 registered political parties had notified the commission of their intention to conduct primaries for the purpose of nominating candidates for the Edo governorship election.
INEC has approved direct primaries only for the APC while the other 14 parties have the indirect primaries approved for their selection of candidates.
“By the Timetable and Schedule of Activities issued by the commission on 6 February 2020, party primaries for the Edo Governorship election will take place between 2 and 27 June 2020,” he said.
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, who is seeking a second term in office and the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, have been at loggerheads over the mode of primary to be adopted for the selection of the party’s candidate in the state.
While Oshiomhole and the factional chairman of the party in the state, David Imuse, have insisted that the party would use direct primary to select its candidate, the state chairman of the party, Anselm Ojezua, said to be in Obaseki’s cmap, has said the party’s State Working Committee chose indirect primary.
Ojezua had argued that the National Executive Council of the APC had said each state was at liberty to adopt any method of preference and accused the NWC, headed by Oshiomhole, of imposing the direct primary on the state as a means to oust Obaseki from the race.
Oshiomhole has also reportedly written INEC via a letter dated May 19, 2020, stating that the party had chosen direct primary for the selection of its candidate for the election.
Meanwhile, to counter the letter written by Oshiomhole to INEC that the party would do direct primary, the governor, in a gazette signed on May 28 and published on Friday, banned political gatherings that could make direct primary possible in the state.
Obaseki insisted that by virtue of the gazette, only direct primary could be held in the state and in only one location.
But in reaction to the altercation and rising tension over the mode of primary INEC would recognise for the APC in the state, Okoye said that the law only allowed the commission to relate with the national chairman and national secretary regarding party primaries.
According to him, “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.
“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.”
On the outcome of Tuesday’s management meeting, Okoye said, “As we prepare for the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections, we appeal to political parties sponsoring candidates and participating in the Edo and Ondo (slated for 10th October 2020) governorship elections to eschew violence and conduct their activities in the best traditions of electoral democracy.”