One of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has faulted the argument being canvassed by the state governor, Godwin Obaseki against the adoption of the direct mode of primary election by the National Working Committee, NWC, to select the candidate of the party for the September 19 governorship election in the state. Ize-Iyamu described as illogical Obaseki’s argument that a direct primary would pose a public health risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and accused the governor of politicizing the state’s COVID-19 situation in his clamor for an indirect primary that he allegedly plans to rig.
In a statement signed by John Mayaki, the director of communication and media, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu Campaign Organization, the governorship aspirant wondered if the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was going to conduct indirect governorship election in the state because of COVID-19. In his words, “We have watched and listened with amusement, the very unintelligent argument being canvassed by Governor Godwin Obaseki and his clan of jesters in an attempt to stop the APC from holding a governorship primary election in Edo State.
“Obaseki’s argument that conducting direct primaries would aid the spread of coronavirus is most illogical. What would rather aid the spread of the pandemic is indirect primary, his preferred mode, where over 5, 000 delegates and officials, including journalists, would have to crowd at Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in total disregard to the social distancing precautionary measure, one of the protocols put in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“On the contrary, the direct mode of primary, apart from being more democratic as it involves all party members voting in their wards to nominate their preferred governorship aspirant, would take place in open field or space in a dispersed manner with very few delegates, thus ensuring observance of social distancing. Notwithstanding, Governor Obaseki, trying to hide under the excuse of fear of the spread of coronavirus, is an afterthought and indeed a very poor excuse to avoid imminent defeat at the party’s direct primaries.”
According to the former secretary to the state government, SSG ”The governor would have been taken seriously in his ‘concern’ about the spread of COVID-9 when the first index case occurred in Edo and he locked down the state, but he refused to do so against advice from the Oba of Benin and the State Council of Traditional Rulers and other well-meaning citizens of the state. Why the sudden realization of the spread of coronavirus only on the eve of APC governorship primary election? In any case, will INEC conduct indirect governorship election for Edo State because of COVID-19?”
Ize-Iyamu asserted that “Evidently, the allegation against the embattled Governor that his epidemiological study, with no proof of its existence and authenticity, was manipulated and has turned out correct, and Godwin Obaseki is merely wielding it as a political tool to impose on the APC an indirect primary he plans to rig following his realization that he has lost the support of the majority of party members.”