Edo 2016: onerous task before the APC leadership
The forthcoming Edo governorship election is very crucial and exceptional to the All Progressive Congress (APC). It is crucial in the sense that it will go a long way in determining the survival or otherwise of the party in the South South zone ahead of 2019 general elections. It is exceptional because Edo State is the only stronghold of the APC in the South-South zone. Besides, South-South zone being the goose that lays the golden egg, is very strategic and important in the politics and governance of the country. It is for these pertinent and peculiar reasons that the national leadership of the APC and the Presidency should leave no stone unturned in ensuring that they get their acts right especially in the area of party primaries in the State ahead of the election.
There is no doubt that since the APC-led government assumed office last year, the party’s national leadership has conducted transparent primaries in Kogi and Bayelsa States. In the Kogi where late Abubakar Audu emerged victorious, other aspirants unanimously embraced his emergence due to the transparency of the exercise. That contributed to the massive victory of the party in the poll before Abubakar’s sudden demise along the line.
In Bayelsa State, the governorship primaries of the party at a time got messier as the major contenders-Timipre Sylva and Timi Alaibe went for each other’s jugular. The Presidency and party leadership waded in and timely resolved the logjam. The process was started afresh and Sylva emerged victorious. Although, the party did not win the poll, but its primaries was transparent and exemplary.
The outcome of these two governorship primaries of the party was a clear indication that the party leadership and the Presidency were really committed to the change mantra of free, fair and transparent election at all levels. It was a clear departure from the past practice especially in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where party primaries are usually determined by the godfathers, Presidency and the governors. It is of utmost importance to remind the party’s national leadership and the presidency that it is only through a free, fair, and transparent primaries that APC can win the forthcoming Edo governorship poll. The party leadership and the Presidency should, as a matter of strategy and enthronement of democratic principles, resist any form of manipulation, intimidation, coercion or compromise from any quarters in the conduct of the party primaries in the State.
Preferential treatment, undue interference, power of incumbency, executive support, godfatherism, and financial inducement should not form the basis of making the choice of the party’s candidate in the primaries. Rather, a level playing ground should be provided for all the aspirants to test their popularity before the people.
If any party stakeholder irrespective of his position in the party or society is interested in a particular aspirant, such stakeholder should prove their political worth and that of their preferred aspirant in a free and fair primary. Those who are about finishing their tenures of office on the party platform should not be allowed to ruin the chances of the party in the poll or destroy its stronghold in the State ahead of 2019 polls. The party national leadership should, as a matter of urgency, carry out an independent survey of the popularity of the party’s aspirants in the State ahead of the primaries and poll. This will help them to differentiate the paperweight politicians from the heavyweight, the grassroots from the featherweights. Without doing this, all the party aspirants which are mainly of pretenders and spoilers will continue to create confusion and lay claims of what they are not, just in a bid to mar the party’s chances at the poll.
As it is today, the continued survival of the APC in the South-South zone is dependent on its success or otherwise in the forthcoming Edo poll. That is why the national leadership of the party and the Presidency should not allow anybody, not even the state executive of the party to toil with the party primaries. It is a clarion call and warning the party leadership must heed to because stakes are already high in the State. It will be quite disappointing for the APC to fall into avoidable pits during its Edo primaries. It is obvious that the opposition will be waiting in the wing to benefit from such fall. Those that will be offended with the outcome of the APC primaries, if not done in a free and fair manner may join forces with the opposition to vote out the APC in the poll. The party leadership should be mindful of the fact that it can only dictate their party primaries which is undemocratic, but they do not have capacity or legal backing to dictate or tele-guide the governorship poll proper. The unfolding scenario is not new in the State. It is a familiar road which the Edo people passed in 2007, and would not hesitate to pass it again if the need arises.
APC leadership, Presidency and the incumbent governor should play according to the democratic rules during the party’s primaries to avoid backlash. They should not be deceived with the incumbency factor of the party in the state because the popularity of the incumbent governor has waned drastically. For the APC leadership, a word is enough for the wise and it is better to make hay when the sun shines.
• Adiga, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Benin City, Edo State
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