As the battle for the gubernatorial tickets of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo and Ondo states thickens, a former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, yesterday made a case for governors Godwin Obaseki and Rotimi Akeredolu.
Odigie-Oyegun passed a vote of confidence on the governors, saying they should be given the party’s tickets for re-election.
But the Edo APC faction loyal to the National Chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, has dismissed alleged claims by Odigie-Oyegun, that Obaseki was promised an automatic ticket as part of reconciliation in the state chapter of the party.
According to him, they have “performed creditably should be returned unless they do not do wish”.
Odigie-Oyegun said his call for the support for the two governors was informed by the agreement reached to settle the leadership crisis at the national level that threatened its existence.
He however cautioned the party’s leadership from imposing candidates, calling for free and fair primaries in both states.
He argued in a statement issued yesterday that if other party members showed interest in the race, they should be given opportunity.
Our democracy of course has no room for imposition so the party must accept and also present any member that offer themselves to serve in the positions being occupied by the incumbent governors,” he stressed.
The former governor of Edo State warned that the nature of the governorship primary election in Edo State would determine the shape and survival of APC as a political party.
“It is of critical importance that the primary be seen even by a blind man, to be free and fair otherwise there would be political consequences.”
According to him, the party’s governorship primary “will show Nigerians and indeed the world whether APC is a party of truth, change and progress, driven by the principles of fairness, social justice and equity, or it has become a party that believes and promotes business as usual!”
He recommended that a consensus be built behind Obaseki but added that in the absence of consensus, “everything must be done to ensure that the persons in the leadership of the party at the center who are part of the contrived crisis in Edo State must not even remotely be allowed to plan, participate or supervise the primary election.
Allowing any member(s) of the national leadership who have been involved in the contrived crisis in Edo State would equate making such person or persons judges in their own case. This is contrary to the principle of natural justice and will be naturally resisted,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
He also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure free, fair and crisis-free elections in the two states.
Meanwhile, the APC faction in Edo State loyal to Oshiomhole, has dismissed claims that Obaseki was promised an automatic ticket as part of reconciliation in the state chapter of the party.
Publicity Secretary of the party, Chris Azebamwan, in a statement in Abuja, declared that there was no meeting where Obaseki was promised automatic ticket.
He said that if such a meeting took place and decision arrived at, there would have been no need to set up the National Reconciliation Committee headed by Chief Bisi Akande.
. “It is not in our character, upbringing or culture to take an elder to task. Especially an elder with the towering stature and credentials of Pa John Odigie-Oyegun who retired as a Federal Super-Permanent Secretary, has been a State Governor and served National Chairman of a major political party. He celebrated his 80th birthday recently, and we wish him many more years of service to the nation.
Against this background, one is at loss to understand why Chief Odigie-Oyegun would make utterances that portray him as a mouthpiece or hireling of Godwin Obaseki. That the forthcoming primaries in Edo State would be credible is not in doubt.
“It is neither desirable, nor in the interest of anyone to compromise the process, and in so doing, give room for the Courts to intervene and upturn the results. The leadership of APC is determined to conduct credible primaries. In addition, one would have expected Chief Odigie-Oyegun to name or identify those he claims are contriving a crisis in Edo State.