Edo LGC Polls: crisis rocks APC over imposition of candidates
By Our Correspondent
Ahead the March 3, 2018 Local Government Council Elections in Edo State, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party has been plunged into a deep sea of crisis following imposition of candidates by its leaders in the primary election held on Wednesday, January 24, 2018.
Across the 18 Local Government Council Area of the State; the story was the same; copious complaint of imposition of candidates by the party leaders without recourse to the popular choice of the people.
A situation which in most places ended in near violent crisis.
Findings reveal that effort to actualizing selfish interest(s) was reason for the infamous and undemocratic act.
At Oredo the people resisted the party leaders attempt to impose Governor Godwin Obaseki’s brother as the chairmanship candidate which forced him to step down from the race, giving way to the emergence of one Jerkins Osunde.
At Egor, another metropolitan council area, daring the intimidating popularity of one of the aspirants; Efe Stewart, the leaders made a bold face to announce Eghe, daughter of late Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia as their consensus candidate for the chairmanship slot.
Allegedly, the leaders were mandated by Governor Obaseki to deliver Eghe who they claimed since joining the party, has been very active and made tremendous financial contribution both at ward and State level.
The Party LGA Secretariat; venue of the stalemated primary was filled with very anxious grassroots party members majority of whom were rooting for Efe Stewart as their chosen chairmanship candidate.
They say; he is the one they know and who knows them, and the challenges confronting them since ages, while Eghe Ogbemudia is a stranger to them. She recently joined the party.
Efe Stewart refused to be intimidated and surrender to the dictate of the leaders but stick with the grassroots behind him. Vehemently, he protested that he too was an aspirant having purchased the APC nomination form to run for the chairmanship of Egor council.
He argued that it will be unfair, unjust, and undemocratic if primary election was not conducted for them as he was not part of the said consensus.
Stewart demanded that in line with provision of the APC constitution, the open secret ballot system be applied; returning officer displays the result sheet, and certificate. When this is done should he be defeated by his challenger, he would gladly congratulate her and work with her.
“I am not part of that consensus, also I am an aspirant in this exercise and I will appreciate if we adhere strictly to the constitution of this party.
“This is a constitutional right, I am not part of that process (consensus), and I disagree with it.”
But as the argument was going on, suddenly the party LGA chairman, Benji Omoregie pounced on Stewart seizing him by the trousers and shirt in attempt to forcefully throw him out of the hall to enable them carry out their imposition unhindered.
Within a twinkle of an eye, supporters on both sides engaged themselves in the shout down which degenerated into a near free for all before team of armed policemen arrived to keep the peace.
Luckily, nobody sustained injury let alone life lost as no gun shot was recorded.
After the fear stricken leaders ran out of the venue under police cover, Stewart addressed the media.
“I am surprised that when I got here, they want to deny me of the right to contest. I bought the form with my money and I have been a member of this party for twelve years and the only complain I made was that; let us go to the field and contest.
“Not imposition but they are saying that some persons from the State directed that Eghe Ogbemudia should be the person to take the seat.
“I am not disputing that but let us go to the field if she defeats me, so be it and I would work with her. But I am surprised that the democracy that brought this administration into power is not being practiced at this level.
“Now they want to use government machinery to oppress me but I am going to cry out to the whole world that it is my fundamental right.
“But I will fight and fight till justice is done in this matter.”
Truly, soon after he addressed the media, a team of State Security Service (SSS) operatives arrived and whisked him away but was later transferred to the State C.I.D where he has been held without charges since on Wednesday.
Allegedly, the arrest was on the orders of the governor, Godwin Obaseki who ironically Stewart as a party man worked tirelessly to help get victory in his own election in 2016.
He is being kept among hardened criminal to weaken his spirit to forcefully surrender to the machinations of the party leaders findings revealed.
Also, in Owan – East LGC Area, two different Chairmanship candidates emerged from the party primary. Victor Ohionsuma emerged from the Pally Iriase and Folly Ogedegbe led faction while Victor Osigwe was delivered as the Chairmanship candidate by the other faction which allegedly has the backing of strong power brokers in the party at the state level.
Pally had said in an interview granted the Independent Television (ITV); “if there is any contrary result to ours, the world must know that democracy is on trial in Owan – East.”
Since the controversial primary election, the Governor Obaseki led leadership of the Edo State APC has not known peace and have been holding series of secret meetings and consultations on how to clear the mess that is fast denting its image in the public eyes