The former National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on Thursday, urged the party to give Governor Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) second term tickets in line with a recent peace deal.
In the alternative, the former governor of Edo State said, free and fair primaries should be held.
In an advertorial, he said: “I welcome most warmly the news that Mr. President has firmly endorsed the agreement reached to settle the disruptive leadership crisis at the national level that was threatening the very existence of the All Progressives Congress.
“The immediate relevant part of that agreement was that both the governors; Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki of Edo State and Mr. Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu(SAN), of Ondo State having performed creditably and should be returned, unless they do not so wish.
“This means that the party, in unity, should organise to support the return of both governors.”
Odigie-Oyegun hoped and prayed that a consensus could be built behind Governor Obaseki because “he has not offended any aspect of the APC’s constitution nor has he in any way brought the party to disrepute.
“He has performed in an exemplary manner. In his time, there has been peace and freedom for the ordinary Edo man and woman from harassment by official thugs.
“Through him, Edo State must prove that our democracy can only survive if we do not create a situation where an individual or a small group can make or unmake our governors or other elected officials at will.”
However, he said if consensus could not be built behind the incumbent Obaseki “everything must be done to ensure that the persons in the leadership of the party at the centre, who are part of the contrived crisis in Edo State, must not even remotely be allowed to plan, participate or supervise the primary election.
“It is of critical importance that the primary be seen, even by a blind man, to be free and fair otherwise there could be political consequences.
“Allowing any member(s) of the national leadership who have been involved in the contrived crisis in Edo State would equate to making such person or persons judges in their own case.
“This is contrary to the principle of natural justice and will be naturally resisted.”
APC Vice-Chair reacts
However, Edo State APC Vice Chairman, South, Benson Edosomwan, accused Chief Oyegun of twisting facts, saying President Buhari never endorsed any agreement for Obaseki and his Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, to be returned as the party’s candidates in the forthcoming governorship elections.
His words: “President Buhari subjected himself to party primaries in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
“He allowed other aspirants to contest with him, knowing that no portion of the APC constitution states that a President, governor that has performed should be given right of first refusal.
“If Governor Obaseki’s popularity has, indeed, grown tremendously across party lines as Chief Oyegun claims, then he should have no problem putting such rating to test with members of APC through direct primary so that Edo APC faithful can demonstrate their love and wide acceptance through their votes rather than seeking right of first refusal that is undemocratic and alien to our constitution.”