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Delta 2019: APC gambles with direct, indirect primaries

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Adams Oshiomhole, APC leader


• Zoning Another Headache
• Okowa Accused Of Fuelling Crisis

Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has been accused as the mastermind of the protracted crisis in the state chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), over direct or indirect primaries, The confusion over which primary mode to adopt for picking candidates for the 2019 general elections has further divided the party. Another source of worry, for stakeholders is their inability to rise above personal ego and nip the zoning issue in the bud.

Not only are these twin factors making mess of the recent reconciliation by the party’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the hard resolve of the Senator Ovie Omo-Agege/Chief Great Ogboru faction and that of Olorogun O’tega Emerhor/ Engr. Hycinth Enuha, may provide the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) some reason to hope for victory.A chieftain of the party, Prince Yemi Emiko, described the development as a totally unacceptable situation.

In a chat with The Guardian, Emiko, an APC Party chieftain commended Oshiomhole for the idea of direct primaries, but blamed Okowa for fueling the crisis in the party.His worry is that if equity is not applied for Delta North to complete eight years like the other zones, by voting out Okowa for another Delta North candidate, APC may miss the opportunity to ‘drive away PDP from Asaba. With the primaries taking center stage across the country, the least APC in Delta need is to engage party members, instead of being embroiled in power tussle.

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But the Chief Cyril Ogodo-led State Working Committee, SWC, and the Chief Jones Erue faction are thinking differently.While the concerns of Chief Ogodo and his men are for direct primaries, Chief Erue and his men insist on indirect primaries, just as Prof Pat Utomi, a frontline governorship candidate, from the favoured Delta North axis staged a walk out from the SWC meeting.

What is however raising curiosity, among political observers, is how the state governor, Senator Okowa has been able to allegedly infiltrate opponents’ camps with ease and place them in disarray, as the battle line between Ogodo and Erue factions lingers.

For Prince Emiko, direct primaries are the way to go. His words: “It is a brilliant idea. If you recall, during the recent congresses we had in the APC, leading to the national congress, you saw what happened, not only with Delta State delegation and that of Imo State and so many other states. All the states had parallel congresses.

“In Delta State we had two factions with Great Ogboru and Omo-Agege on one side, and Otega Emerhor with Engr. Enuha on the other side. Basically, there has been confusion everywhere. Now you are trying to harmonize the state executives, what about the local government and ward executives? That is why in Oshiomhole’s wisdom, working with the National Working Committee, NWC, they decided to opt for direct primaries and let the popular candidates emerge.”

Emiko, further explained: “Not that the NWC just plucked the idea from the sky. It is entrenched in our party’s constitution. That you can do direct primaries, through delegates or by consensus, and that leaders can meet and decide what’s best and they go out there to sell your candidacy. And that if everybody agrees, then there won’t be any need for primaries, but when there are dissenting voices, then you opt for either direct or indirect primaries, which is by delegates,”

He said the delegates system has been so corrupted. “I ran an election for a senate position. I was the APC candidate in 2015 and I know what it was to even get the party’s ticket. It is better for the candidates to sell their manifestoes and let the people have a voice on who represents them at those various positions,” he said.Chief Ogodo and his people had earlier adopted the direct primaries model in the conduct of all party primaries, but caused a stir when they later opted for indirect primaries.

Prof. Utomi, who was at the secretariat also walked out, following the adoption of indirect primaries by the Elue group, which his supporters argued will present undue advantage to some aspirants.A press release made available to the media and signed by Aghogho Orotomah warned that leaders and elders of the Mainstream of APC in Delta State have sent out a clear message on the desirability of direct primaries in Delta State.

They commended the APC leadership, saying: “In a democracy power resides with the people. Even in advanced democracies from which we copied our presidential model, like the United States, insist on direct primaries, in order to give the people a sense of ownership of the process, and the candidates a true sense of being the products of the will of the people.The question on the lips of many APC members and political analysts is why the Great Ogboru camp is scared of direct primaries, which will clearly establish who the popular candidate is.

 


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