5 June 2020
The build up to the Edo gubernatorial election is getting more interesting by the day. The forthcoming primaries which is supposed to be some sort of semifinal, has generated enough action and drama to pass for the grand finale which is the general election.
Yesterday, Governor Obaseki signed an executive order, to prevent large political gatherings of any sort, from taking place haphazardly, in line with contemporary global health realities. Some said this was a political chess move to counter the pronouncement, by the Oshiomhole led NWC of the APC for the controversial direct primaries to be used in the selection of the party's candidate.
Before I continue, let me elucidate on direct vs indirect primaries. In indirect primaries, party delegates come out to elect a candidate. There are two types of delegates; statutory & adhoc delegates. Serving local government chairmen/ women, state, LGA & ward party excos serving legislators etc., make up the number of statutory delegates. While adhoc delegates are usually made up of former elected card carrying politicians of that party like former chairman, senator, governor etc. These are the people who gather in a predetermined location on a fixed date to vote during indirect primaries. It could in a way, be compared with the US electoral college system. Direct primaries on the other hand, is one where EVERY card carrying member of the party is entitled to vote in.
Simply put, its like the general election but this time, your voters card is your party membership card. There are two types of direct primaries; open direct & secret ballot. In secret ballot, you vote for your choice and put in a ballot box; in open direct, voters file behind the poster of their candidate of choice in the various election booths and are counted accordingly. Its also known as option A4 and was introduced in 1993 by the Humphrey Nwosu led NEC during the SDP vs NRC presidential election. This is supposed to be the most transparent but based on recent realities, its not viable.
Firstly, its going to lead to crowds of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of party faithfuls gathering all over the state in the name of selecting a political party's flagbearer. Secondly, it was the method adopted in the Lagos APC's gubernatorial primaries last year and it turned out to be heavily flawed. The Internet was awash with videos of party men & women being beaten and manhandled by thugs and forced to leave the Ambode line and join the Sanwo-Olu line, in line with the dictates of a godfather seated somewhere. The results that came out in the end did not reflect the wishes of the party faithfuls but they did reflect that of the strongman who wanted Ambode out of the way at any cost. In view of the aforementioned, the adoption of the indirect primaries, would be in the best interest of the good people of Edo state- politically, financially, healthwise etc.
All in all, I think the Executive Order issued by Governor Obaseki, proscribing the direct primaries, with good reasons, is a legitimate checkmate for Oshiomhole's shenanigans. If he goes ahead and forces it through in typical fashion, such a process would be rightfully declared null and void all the way to the supreme court. Two days ago, the Governor of North Carolina, an American state, rejected Donald Trump & his Republican party the rights to use his state for their forthcoming convention & primaries after they failed to reach a middle ground. He gave conditions, refusing to allowed jampacked arenas in his state, citing Covid-19 & ongoing protests as reasons. Hence, its within Governor Obaseki's purview as chief Executive of Edo state in a democratic setting, to instruct that only indirect primaries can hold at a predetermined location.
Trivia: Inset is chairman Oshiomhole sitting on the laps of Esama Igbinedion (a man whose entire dynasty he later betrayed) and sharing a father-son moment with him when the going was good.
Simon is an Abuja based social commentator