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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
POLITICS

Edo 2024: Confusion as APC’s parallel primaries produce two winners

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• Uzodinma announces Idahosa; Okpebholo declared winner at Ize-Iyamu’s residence

• I’m the authentic winner, says Agba •Only Uzodinma-led committee can announce results – Morka

Confusion erupted yesterday in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the declaration of House of Representatives member Dennis Idahosa as winner of the party’s governorship primary.

Chairman of the Primary Election Committee and Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, declared Idahosa winner at Protea Hotel, Government Reservation Area (GRA), Benin at the end of the collation of results from the 18 local government areas of the state.

The result was however disputed by Senator Monday Okpebholo (Edo Central) and the immediate past Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, both of who said they won the primary election.

Idahosa, who currently represents Ovia constituency in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, was credited with 40,453 votes.

Senator Monday Okpebholo had 100 votes.

Details of the result as announced by Uzodimma are as follows: Blessing Agbomhere – 50 votes, Maj.Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (rtd.) – 162; Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor – 180; Col. David Imuse (rtd.) – 400;  Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe – 02; Gideon Ikhine – 700; Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu – 02; Anamero Dekeri – 230; Prince Clem Agba – 100 and Chief Lucky Imasuen – 02.

Uzodimma described the primary conducted by his committee as the authentic one.

He said it was peaceful in the state’s 192 wards.

However, armed thugs invaded Lushville Hotel and Suites, Gapiona Avenue, GRA, Benin, the initial collation centre at about 2.52 pm, sparking pandemonium.

The collation officers were on break when the thugs struck.

The State Collation Officer, Dr. Stanley Ughoajah, halted the live transmission of the proceeding by some national television stations.

Okpekholo, at the time of the invasion, was leading Idahosa in six of the 18 local government areas already collated.

Okpekholo was ahead in Ikpoba/Okha, Esan Southeast, Oredo, Esan West, Owan West and Esan Central, while Idahosa led in Akoko-Edo LGA and his Ovia Southwest LGA.

Journalists who had gathered to cover the process were injured and their equipment destroyed.

Party officials and other stakeholders were similarly attacked and the highbrow hotel’s facilities damaged.

The many policemen and other security operatives at the venue appeared overwhelmed by the turn of events.

Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were present at both collation centres.

As Uzodimma was rounding off the declaration of the results, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who had withdrawn from the race on Friday, invited reporters to his residence in GRA, Benin, where Okpebholo was declared winner of the parallel election by Dr. Stanley Ugboajah, the Collation Officer.

Okpebholo, according to Ugboajah, received 12,145 votes and Idahosa 5,536 votes.

Signs of trouble had emerged earlier in the day when two more aspirants joined Ize-Iyamu in withdrawing from the primary election.

First to throw in the towel yesterday was a former deputy governor of the state, Chief Lucky Imasuen and later Dr. Ernest  Umakhihe.

Imasuen in a letter addressed to his supporters said his decision to withdraw was in “the interest of peace and unity of our great party,” and because “members of our National Working Committee (NWC), in their wisdom, have expressed their preference for zoning the governorship position to Edo Central Senatorial District.”

He pledged to support “whoever emerges as our candidate in the primary election.”

Soon after pulling out of the race, Umakhihe declared support for “the choice of the party,” Idahosa.

Umakhihe, a retired federal permanent secretary, Edo North Senatorial District, said: “It has been a worthwhile journey of our resolve to make a difference in the affairs of our dear Edo State. However, following my latest interaction with the party’s leadership, I will not be contesting the primaries.

“Let us give our support to Hon. Dennis Idahosa, who is the choice of the party. There are greater days ahead.”

Agba: Based on the authentic turnout, we clinched victory

Agba, who also laid claim to victory, thanked his supporters for their “loyalty and support for my candidature.”

He said: “To my good people of Edo State and esteemed members of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, I want to thank you for your loyalty and support for my candidature.

“Unfortunately, what we have all witnessed in the APC party primaries in Edo State on Saturday February 17th, 2024 falls below the minimum standard of democratic elections that is universally acceptable.

“I believe strongly that thousands of loyal party members were disenfrachished. Based on the authentic turnout, we clinched victory.

“The result so far announced is a ridicule and undermines the principles of democracy and fair play. The votes of the people did not count, the processes of election were compromised and the strength and unity of our party greatly undermined.

“While I remain a loyal party member, I will not be part of a process that robs the mass of our loyal party members of their inalienable right to vote.

“What has taken place in Edo State negates all that even our political leaders have taught us over the years about democracy, the will of the people, one man, one vote and justice and fair play.

“We must come together to challenge this great injustice and restore the integrity and strength of our great party.

“Such impunity that the people have been subjected to should have no place in our great party.

“We will proceed speedily within the guidelines laid down by our party to seek for justice.

“I want to thank everyone that has supported me for your unwavering commitment and belief in our vision and qualification. Your passion and dedication have been the driving force behind our campaign, and I am truly grateful.

“As we move forward, remember that our journey is far from over. We will continue to fight for a better future for Edo State, a future where every citizen can thrive and succeed.

“Our resolve is unbreakable, and our commitment unwavering. We will not rest until justice is served and the people’s will is honoured.

“Thank you, and let us march forward with courage and conviction.”

Edo will vote massively for me, says Idahosa

Idahosa, who was accompanied by his wife, Osaretin, in his acceptance speech at Protea Hotel, Benin, expressed gratitude to  President Bola Tinubu and “my leader, Senator Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole” and the people, especially his constituents in  for “giving me the mandate in 2019 and 2023, which gave me the opportunity to shine in the National Assembly. “

Continuing, he said:”There is no Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State. The September 21, 2024 governorship election will be between APC and Labour Party (LP).

“In LP, 80 per cent of the members will align with the younger generation. Obedient Movement is between the age bracket of 18 and 45. I happen to be in that constituency (age bracket). Edo residents will massively vote for me.”

Only Uzodinma can announce primary result – APC

The APC urged party members and the public to disregard unofficial results for the Edo State governorship primary.

The party maintained that only the Governor Hope Uzodinma-led Primary Election Committee is authorised to undertake final collation and announce the final results.

National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, in a statement on Saturday dissociated the party from a live broadcast on national television and online platforms announcing results.

The statement reads: “The attention of the National Working Committee of our great Party has been drawn to a live broadcast on major national television stations and online news outlets of results of the ongoing Edo State APC Governorship Primary Election by some unauthorized persons

“We wish to state categorically that only the Governor Hope Uzodinma-led Edo State APC Governorship Primary Election Committee is duly authorised to undertake the final collation and announcement of results of the Primary Election in the State.

“We urge all Party members, officials in the State, and the general public to disregard the said announcement of results by these unauthorized persons.”

Source: The Nation