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Edo Guber-Election: Ehiogie West-Idhosa Defends NWC On Direct Primary

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Honorable West Ehiogie-Idahosa has maintained that there are no static guidelines for the 2019 governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa State.

The lawyer was responding to many views that the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Adams Oshiomhole chose direct primaries in Edo State against the resolution of the National Executive Meeting held months ago.

Ehiogie West-Idahosa: Edo Guber-Election: West Ehiogie-Idhosa Defends NWC On Direct Primary
Ehiogie West-Idahosa

The news of the National Working Committee (NWC) swept the media on Thursday after Oshiomhole’s led NWC adopted direct primaries to choose its flag-bearer in Edo State.

The Edo State APC primary which is scheduled for June 22 was confirmed by the party National Publicity Secretary, Lanre -Issa-Onilu.

“It is true, we’ve adopted a direct primary method for Edo governorship primary,” he said but declined further comment on the new development.

Reacting on the matter, Barr West-Idahosa said “Last NEC meeting was either late last year or early this year. On or about 16 Nov 2019. NEC meetings are not a play thing. They are few and far apart. To help the party, NEC resolved to delegate the powers to draw up guidelines for primaries to NWC. This was done under Oyegun. It is still extant. There was no NEC meeting to ratify the guidelines in Osun, Ekiti, Kogi & Bayelsa for the above reason.”

The controversial decision by the NWC has generated reactions from the faction loyal to the state governor, Godwin Obaseki who believed that the NWC does not possess the power to dictate the method of primaries.

Edo State government through its spokesperson, Crusoe Osagie said “

“Whatever they decide in the said meeting cannot stand the test of legality. The NEC is the one that is responsible for picking the kind of primary that is used to determine the candidate of a party in a governorship election.

“The last time NEC met, they decided that a state should determine the kind of primaries to adopt while the national level will ratify. As we speak, that decision still holds as it played out in the last Kogi and Bayelsa governorship election,” Mr Osagie said in a phone interview with this newspaper on Friday afternoon.

However, section 13.4 of the party’s constitution which contains the responsibilities of NWC, stipulates that the body can “propose to the NEC, party electoral regulations, to govern the conduct of elections to all party offices at every level and to govern the procedure for selecting party candidates for elective offices, subject to the of the constitution.”

Arguing further, “There are no static guidelines. 2019 guides for Kogi and Bayelsa were specifically made for those states. Same was applicable to Osun and Ekiti.

“The question of the mode of primaries is a decision of NWC, not states. Here is why; when a state indicates a preference, it is still up to NWC to agree. It is a political question not legal. Ogun indicated indirect in 2019, but direct was used. Edo indicated indirect in 2019, but direct was used for NASS elections. Generally, where there are factions as in Edo, NWC has resolved to always use a direct to avoid Zamfara situation which was caused by the question of who were the correct delegates from both factions. With direct, there is no such question. No technicalities.”

When asked the reason behind the inconsistency as Bayelsa and Kogi state applied indirect primaries, the lawyer turned politician said “The last NEC meeting was less than 1 hour. It did not decide any such question. That issue was resolved 2018, except where there is a faction, then NWC can use its initiative. Don’t forget that Ojezua is suspended as chairman. Imuse is acting. Ojezua has not been able to nullify the suspension till date. NEC recognized Imuse and are dealing with his faction. So only Imuse’s representations are received by NWC & not that of Ojezua. These are political decisions that can be made in line with the party’s constitution and have been made. I am giving u primary info as a friend.

When NAIJA CENTER queried further on Oshiomhole’s interest in the coming election, the APC lawyer argued that Oshiomhole’s isn’t running for a position, therefore, does not need to abdicate his position to be fair.

“The power to decide doesn’t belong to Adams. It belongs to an organ- NWC. Oshiomhole is one of the 21 members of that organ. Having been elected, why should he abdicate his post when he is not running for election. It is not his cause. Oshiomhole’s may tacitly support one faction, but how is that illegal? How does that rob him of his call to duty? If they are discussing a political or economic problem in Daura, would that lead to Buhari excusing himself from Exco meeting? Certainly, not.

“Political parties are not run by state Govts but elected or appointed party officials. Are party officials running Obaseki’s Govt for him? Why must he run the party? He has a hard road to travel. Reality time.”

He added “Judges do not interfere with political decisions unless an aspirant who participated in primaries has complained about non-compliance with the guidelines or party constitution. No court can ask an elected chairman to stay away from his job because an election is going to be conducted in his state. Does INEC Chairman not come from a state? No judicial decision supports that.

“None of the aspirants is blood relative of Comrade? His wife or child is not running. Frequent differences exist in family units. Would that make the man recuse himself as head of the house if the dispute involves his kids and his domestic aides?”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) Professor Itse Sagay said on Sunday that he supports the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) to adopt the direct primary method for the selection of the party’s governorship candidate in Edo State.

“My impression is that it is the national body that organises primaries for governorship elections, not the state executive of APC. If that is the case, what it means is that Oshiomhole is right.

“Secondly, in my view, the direct primary in which all party members are allowed to participate is more democratic, it reflects the views and aspirations of all the members in the grassroots but the indirect primary in which only delegates are allowed to vote is subject to manipulation, imposition and so it is undemocratic.

“So, I prefer the direct primary method and I believe the APC NWC has the right to determine which type of primary should be adopted. Any contender who is popular with the people will prefer the direct primary method,” Sagay said, as reported by Daily Independent.

On Friday, two sources who didn’t want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, according to Premium Times report confirmed the NWC decision, but one of the sources said “The principle is what has been done before, it is easy to repeat it. The last primary that was done in Edo was direct, so it easier to go by what the people are used to over there instead of starting something afresh with its challenges.

“It is easier to learn from what you have done in a particular place and improve on it,” the source, who was among the NWC members in attendance at the meeting, explained.

The other source added “Granting waiver to aspirants has been done on several occasions. In the last election, I can confirm to you that over 50 people were given waivers. Even in the last Kogi elections, people were given waivers.

“The principle behind waiver is that anybody coming in to add value to the party either in terms of electoral votes or resources to deploy. Anybody that would make significant impacts would be given such an opportunity to strengthen the party,” he said.

However, two sources within the NWC, who asked not to be named as they were not authorised to speak on the matter, told PREMIUM TIMES that the party adopted the direct primary for Edo State and granted a waiver to a controversial aspirant, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
One of the sources said the argument for the direct primary at Thursdays NWC meeting was hinged on the fact that the method has been tried in the state before and it would possibly prevent an uproar from members of the APC in Edo State.

When asked on the possibility of the state branch of the APC making a case for the indirect primary system, he nullified this possibility as “the state (branch of APC) does not have the constitutional right to decide the method of primary for the governorship ticket.”

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