- As INEC prepares for the gubernatorial elections in both Edo and Ondo states, OKECHUKWU JOMBO writes that it’s a two party affair.
With Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, fixing the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections for September 10 and November 26 respectively, all is now set for a political show down in those two states.
The battle, as always, will be between candidates of the Peoples Democratic Part, PDP, and The All progressive congress, APC, though over 21 political parties will be contesting.
Even though they have not yet made nominations, it is now pertinent to do so and the two parties have commenced moves for the exercise.
APC have slated March 2016 for their primaries. The party said that it will adhere to the 2014 delegates list, even as it assured party faithful that the conduct of the exercise will be transparent, free and fair.
State publicity secretary of the party in Edo State, Mr Godwin Erhahon, in a statement in Benin, said that the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, had already assured that the list of delegates elected at the 2014 congress remains intact and sacrosanct.
Nigerian Pilot Sunday gathered that the leadership of the party in Edo State have been in Abuja for the last one week trying to impress on the national leaders of the party why the 2014 delegates list should be altered. It was, however, learned that the national leadership of the party refused to shift grounds on the issue.
Erhahon’s clarification was sequel to allegations that attempts were being made by some officials of the party in the state to alter the 2014 delegates list to accommodate those not qualified for the delegate conference.
A chieftain of the party alleged that a particular party member from Oredo local government area of the state, was busy suspending and removing members of the party and substituting the names of those who have died and were part of the 2014 delegates list with a view of supporting a particular governorship aspirant to emerge as the party’s flag bearer.
However, Erhahon explained that, “All elected delegates who are still members of the party will be the voters at the primaries. Those who are no more in APC either by reason of death or defection cannot be replaced till after the primaries.
“This reassurance has become necessary to douse tension over rumours, boasts or threats from various quarters that attempts are being made by some persons to alter the list of delegates. All governorship aspirants and their promoters are advised to humble themselves to existing party leadership including the delegates rather than sponsor suspension of party officials or replacement of delegates which can only backfire on them in the end.
“Edo State leadership of APC will not tolerate any attempt to discredit the national leadership of the party which is the maker and custodian of the list of delegates,” the source added.
PDP on its own, through its National Working Committee, NWC, has approved March 14 for conduct of the party’s congress in Edo.
Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP national publicity secretary, said in a statement in Abuja that the NWC also approved the conduct of other congresses in the state.
“Ward congress in the state holds on March 5, local government congress holds on March 10, while the state congress is scheduled for March 14, 2016.
“The congresses will be conducted by congress committees from the National Secretariat, Abuja, because the state executive of the party has since expired.”
It advised all members of the party in Edo to be guided by this statement.
Similarly, national leadership of PDP in another statement approved the appointment of Mr Inuwa Bwala as the Special Assistant (Media) to the National Chairman of PDP, Sen. Ali Modu-Sheriff.
The statement, signed by Prof. Adewale Oladipo, PDP National Secretary, said the appointment of Mr Shettima Shehu as the Special Assistant to the National Chairman on Special Duties was also approved.
It said that the appointments took immediate effect.
The two states are currently held by both parties respectively Edo State by Adams Oshiomole of APC and Ondo by Segun Mimiko of PDP.
INEC, through its Deputy Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Nick Dazang, made the disclosure .
Dazang said the timetable for the elections would soon be made public.
“When the timetable for the elections is out, we will commence the processes for budgeting and implementation for the elections,” Dazang said.
Commenting on the conduct of the re-run elections so far, Dazang said the exercises had been successful and peaceful except in Kogi Central and Imo State where little challenges were witnessed.
He said: “The re-run elections we have had from January 27 have been peaceful except that challenge we had in Kogi.
“Otherwise, generally it has been peaceful.
“Those of Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and Niger States were peaceful.
“The only place we had challenges was Kogi Central – Adavi Local Government – where our office was burnt down before the election.
“Fortunately, that did not affect the election in the area because by that time we had not taken the sensitive materials to the office.
“In one of the wards in the same senatorial district, some hoodlums confiscated the result sheet and tore it.
“That was why as at that time we were unable to make a return of the election.
“But fortunately, we fell back on the duplicates.
“Based on that, we were able to declare a winner.”
Dazang said in Imo State, the commission suspended one senatorial and three state House of Assembly elections based on security advice.
He said people in the state were demonstrating and making all sorts of allegations against INEC staff but investigation by the commission revealed that the allegations were baseless.
He said: “They just wanted to make use of that to stop the elections.
“So they started demonstrating.
“Given that, the commission suspended the re-run election in the state indefinitely, based on advice from the security agencies.”
Dazang added that the commission was preparing to conduct the remaining elections in other states in a free, fair and credible manner.
He said: “The major one will be that of Rivers, on March 19, where we have three senatorial districts, one Federal Constituency and House of Assembly elections.
“Already the commission has identified electoral officers that are going to conduct the elections and they have reported at the state capital, Port-Harcourt, for training.”
Dazang said after their training, the personnel would train other workers that would be participating in the conduct of the elections in the state.
He urged all stakeholders to collaborate with the commission in ensuring the elections were peaceful.