As Edo state, south-south Nigeria braces up for a change in government house in 2016, the Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, Mr. Anslem Ojezua, has explained to members of the party not to mistake Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s seeming preference for Mr. Godwin Obaseki as the party’s flag bearer as an imposition.
A group of elders and leaders in the state known as Bini Leaders of Thought, BLT, yesterday, January 7, cautioned Mr. Oshiomhole against re-introducing god-fatherism to Edo politics ahead of the governorship election later in July of this year.
The group, which was reacting to speculations that the governor is a big fan Mr. Obaseki, who is head of the Edo Government’s Economic Team, as his successor, said imposition of candidates undermines the will of the people to choose their leaders.
Reacting to the speculations and the criticisms that have trailed the purported endorsement of Obaseki as the APC flag bearer, Mr. Ojezua explained that it was Governor Oshiomhole’s right to state who he prefers as his successor, “but that will not stop the party from conducting primaries and providing a level playing field for everybody”.
He also warned that the APC may sanction those threatening and abusing the governor over his preference for Obaseki.
The state APC chairman, who addressed newsmen in Benin City, the state capital yesterday, said that it will be naive and unthinkable not to expect a sitting governor to show interest in who succeeds him in the governorship election.
He said: “It is not true that the governor decided not to conduct primaries or whatever processes that may lead to the emergence of a candidate. I took it upon myself and I told the governor that we cannot leave this process open without managing it and that it is the job of the state executive to ensure stability.
“Now we have almost 20 people parading themselves as aspirants in this party. If you don’t manage such a situation well you will be creating crisis. I pleaded with the governor to invite leaders of our party to consult with them and do an assessment of all the aspirants as we know them. The guidelines are not farfetched. How much contributions have they made to the upliftment of our great party?”
“The leaders will ask which role have you played, what have you contributed to the party materially and in terms of effort? Those who should know are the leaders and they are currently doing the assessment. I am not aware that any statement has been made in terms of endorsement. But I can tell you now that if an endorsement is made, it will be legitimate. Endorsement is not imposition, it is a statement of expressing preference without prejudice to the processes of our party”, he stated.