The planned primary election of the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may run into a hitch as the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki has insisted that direct primary cannot hold in the state.
The National Working Committee of the APC is insisting that the party will conduct a direct primary to choose its governorship candidate for the September 19 election in the state.
According to the governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, only indirect primary could hold in the state in accordance with the rule gazetted in newspapers on Friday.
The state government had gazetted a new rule on Friday baning direct primaries in the state.
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.”
Osagie said: “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.
“The location is so large that you could have a space for about 15,000 people but it would be occupied by about 3,000 people. There will be enough social distancing and spacing in that one location as opposed to having that primary election in 192 wards across 18 local governments and you could have about 200 to 300 persons at each ward. That would be a recipe for disaster in this period of COVID-19.
“Our experts did an epidemiological study in March and a curve was drawn. That curve indicated that we would reach the climax on June 28. That was long before APC released the timetable for primary election in March and it fixed it for June 22.”
Speaking on the fact the that the National chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole had already written 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.”
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