Edo APC inconclusive troubles


By Julius Ogar

It is pleasant and uplifting that Edo, one of the oil-rich states on the fringes of Nigeria’s resource endowed Delta is counted as among the states least affected by poverty.

The least poor states in Nigeria, including Edo, have poverty rates ranging from 27.2 percent to 32.1 percent, according to available data. This is interesting given that poverty is a significant issue in Nigeria and of a multidimensional nature, with the headcount rate projected at 40.1 percent in 2018/19, to 42.0 percent in 2020, and 42.6 percent in 2022.

If Edo is just on the fringes of the poverty woods, the same cannot be said of the State in terms of politics. Indeed, it seems to have been in the grips of political poverty and poor leadership recruitment.

From the oracular grip of late Chief Tony Anenih, to the unorthodox Adams Oshiomhole, a lot of muddied water has passed under the Edo bridge.

The state is billed to hold governorship elections in September, and major political parties are in the process of selecting prospective Candidates for the contest. What is being observed in one of the primaries held so far, leaves a sore in the throat, even if it had to be declared inconclusive.

The recent governorship primaries by the All Progressives Congress (APC), produced three different Candidates for the same position in the same election. There is no clearer signal that the party has not learnt any lessons from its loss of Zamfara State in the 2019 elections, and the Appeal Court ruling on the State and national assembly elections in Plateau State.

Zamfara was a lesson still big enough even for an elephant the size of APC. In a clean sweep that cleared out APC’s brooms, the Supreme Court had nullified the governorship, the National and State assembly elections in the State on the grounds that the party had failed to conduct valid primaries.

Instructively, the apex court decided that a party that failed to conduct valid primaries could not claim to have won the election and straight out, awarded all the seats to the rival Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).

For President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it may be convenient at this point to forget what he was told at about this time in the last off-cycle governorship contest in that State: that “Edo is not Lagos!” Following the primaries, LEADERSHIP newspaper on its front page, reported how the presidency, through the Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, had “arm-twisted” even the party chairman and other Stakeholders to achieve a predetermined outcome in Edo.

Pushing his hand through the mire this time, again suggests Tinubu may not have imbibed the warning of four years ago. Moreso, it signals a rude interference in the politics of a State that ordinarily, should belong in the fold of progressive politics, dating back to the days of Samuel Ogbemudia, a soldier, and Ambrose Alli, a Civilian in the defunct Bendel State.

Anointing a Candidate as the president is alleged to have done is not just fishy, it has the capacity to disrupt the geopolitical balancing and internal turn-by-turn politics in Edo. And more than that, it might cost the APC another chance at taking back a prize that was lost to the opposition PDP through anti-party activities and protest voting last time around. And while the politicians sow and reap the fruits of intrigue, it’s the destiny of the ordinary citizen in Edo that is being toyed with.

In multi-party democracy, the hope that other parties could provide viable alternatives is faded against the backdrop that all the parties are different only in names and emblems. But how did we get to this crossroads with party primaries. They are conducted in all climes and are for the most part, rancour free – being an internal party affair. Except that in Nigeria, they are a cauldron of political mischief.

At some point, it was the burden of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s elections management body to conduct primaries. Then it was duly recognised as a pre-election business of the parties and reverted to that status.

Party business was left to the parties so the electoral Commission can face other tasks, and as well save itself from needless litigations. If that was meant to improve the nature of the primaries and Candidate selection process, it has only spawned confusion, big time.

The vogue in nearly all parties large and small, is to ambush the process, have parallel primaries – each producing its own candidate – a trend that has been quickly copied by labour unions and pressure groups. It’s a pointer to why factions thrive. The shambolic APC primaries in Edo turned out such a comical show that the national Executive Committee of the party had to convene an emergency meeting to declare the show of shame inconclusive.

Not even the fractious and cantankerous road transport unions would have put up such a disgraceful and deplorable show. Will Edo finally become Lagos especially when the outgoing governor has burnt nearly every political bridge behind him? Perhaps not, if the ruling PDP in the state refuses to copy the example of the APC as it is expected it will most likely do.

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