Ize-Iyamu, Odubu optimistic on ticket
Uzodimma panel to obey COVID-19 rules
Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary will hold today in the 192 wards across the 18 local government areas.
Two aspirants – Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Dr. Pius Odubu – are participating in the direct primary election, which a Court of Appeal in Benin on Thursday technically cleared to hold.
Ize-Iyamu, the 2016 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defected to APC in December and was on May 21, cleared by the ruling party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to contest the shadow election.
Odubu served as deputy governor in Adams Oshiomhole administration.
Chairman of the seven-member Governorship Primary Election Committee, Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma, said on Sunday that not more than 18 persons would be allowed into the voting centre at a time.
Uzodimma explained that the novel idea was to prevent violation of the state government’s COVID-19 regulations, especially the part that bars a gathering of more than 20 persons at a point.
He also promised a free and fair contest.
He spoke through his Commissioner for Information Declan Emelumba.
Secretary of the Primary Organising Committee Senator Ajibola Basiru said in Benin, the Edo State capital: “Voting will commence simultaneously at 8 a.m. at the 192 wards in Edo State. Not more than 18 persons will be allowed to gather at the same time from the commencement of voting to the end of the exercise, when the results will be announced.
“We are strictly complying with Edo State’s extant law prohibiting gathering of more than 20 persons. Not more than 18 persons, including presiding officers and observers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), shall be at each of the wards’ voting centres at any point in time.
“There shall be simultaneous accreditation and voting in batches, until all eligible members of APC have cast their votes, without violation of Edo State’s COVID-19 regulations.
“Not more than 18 persons shall also be in attendance for the announcement of results at all wards’ centres and collation of results at all levels, including the state collation.
“All members of APC and members of the public are enjoined to be peaceful and comply fully with Edo State’s COVID-19 regulations.”
Ize-Iaymu and Odubu were upbeat on Sunday of emerging the APC torchbearer at the end of the exercise.
While Ize-Iyamu said his acceptability by APC members across the three senatorial districts of the state was his ace, Odubu, who last week said he would not to step after another cleared aspirant, Osaro Obazee, stepped down, believes his grassroots support would guarantee his emergence.
Already, the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) have beefed up security at the 192 wards.
It was also learnt that the Edo State Commissioner of Police Babatunde Kokumo and the Director of DSS in the state, Waziri Mohammed, on Sunday night met members of the Uzodimma-led committee on how to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
Basiru added: “We are ready to go ahead with the primary election. Apart from sending a deputy commissioner of police to receive our team at the airport, both the Police and the DSS have deployed in their officers and men in our facilities.
“All the security agencies have also provided adequate personnel in all the 192 wards where the primary election will hold.
”The Independent National Electoral Commission has sent a monitoring team to assess the conduct of our primary. We do not envisage any crisis in any manner whatsoever.”
Members of the Primary Election Appeal Committee are also on standby for the poll.
The members are Prof. Mustapha Bello (Chairman), Dr. Kayode Ajulo (Secretary), Umar Ahmed, Nasiru Junju and Rasaq Bamu.
Ajulo, said: “We are ready for this assignment if there is going to be any appeal.
“We know all eyes are on us on this Edo primary election but we will ensure equity, fairness and good conscience. We will do everything right.”
The Edo State Government on Sunday reiterated its resolve to enforce the laws and regulations emplaced to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). It charged political parties to restrict the conduct of their primary elections within the protocols and provisions of the state’s COVID-19 Quarantine Regulations and Gazette on political gatherings.
The Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq., in a statement, noted that the state would spare no expense in upholding the law and protecting the lives of the people.