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Oshiomhole: Tinubu Not For Zoning But Free And Fair APC Guber Primary In Edo

He ssid it’ll be unfair to single out Edo and that turn-by-turn arrangement kills democracy.

Former Governor of Edo state, Senator Adams Oshiomhole has declared that President Bola Tinubu is against the zoning of Edo state governorship primary by the All Progressives Congress to any particular zone in the state.

Rather, he said the President was all out for a free and fair gubernatorial primary rerun  scheduled for Thursday.

He also emphasised that turn by turn arrangement in a political setting kills democracy.

Oshiomhole who was speaking with newsmen on Wednesday after meeting with President Tinubu also kicked against the contentious zoning of the governorship slot in Edo State and queried the APC, over its insistence on zoning in the state but looked the other way in Kogi where the kinsman of former Governor Yahaya Bello took over from him.

He maintained that it will be unfair for the APC to implement zoning in the party’s rescheduled primary for the forthcoming gubernatorial election when it did not do so in Kogi and Benue states 

Oshiomhole, who is representing Edo North Senatorial District in the National Assembly, 

said the Edo state chapter of the ruling party is not interested in “turn-by-turn democracy.”

The former NLC President’s visit to the President came in the wake of the controversy surrounding the emergence of about three aspirants claiming to be winners in the last Saturday’s primaries 

Hon. Denise Idahosa, who is said to be the favourite candidate of Oshiomhole was declared winner by the chairman of the primaries and governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma, while two other candidates including Senator Monday Okpebholo and Sunday Dekeri also claimed victory as they accused the former governor of trying to impose Idahosa. 

Edo APC stakeholders opposed to Idahosa had cited the fact that he is from the same Edo South Senatorial District as the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki who is completing his two-term eight years tenure, advocating that power should move to a different zone. 

But Oshiomhole insisted that after discussing the zoning question with President Tinubu, the president expressed his commitment to only free and fair primary. 

He said Tinubu told him that the rescheduled primary should not be based on zoning but the will of the majority of APC.

Oshiomhole contended that after allowing Kogi State Governor Usman Ododo to succeed Yahaya Bello even though they are from the same senatorial district, and also not stop the Tivs from dominating Benue State governorship elections since the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the APC cannot single out Edo State for zoning.

His words: “I came to see Mr. President and it is about the Edo governorship primaries. As I’m sure you know by now, the NWC had reasons of course to review the governorship primaries that was conducted last week as a result of controversies arising from the conduct of that primaries. 

“So today as a party member, and of course the leader of the party in Edo State,  I came to discuss some of the issues that I think are relevant and also in order to ensure that the APC family in Edo State you know, conduct themselves in a manner that Mr President will be proud of the outcome of the of the primaries, because at the end of the day, after the primary, we’re going to face the main election. 

“They have a lot of rumors which I thought Mr. President should speak to and I needed some clarification from him because as the leader of the party, there are a couple of things that I want to be sure that I know where he stands. 

“One of them is issue of zoning. The President has affirmed that he has no voting right in Edo state. Even though the Edo people have the right to vote for the president, therefore, what matters to him is to ensure that APC members in Edo state in the direct primaries, participate in the free and fair primaries. 

“That’s his the decision of the President. They have been rumors in the air that there’s probably zoning to one area or zoning to another area. 

“The president said that as far as he’s concerned is committed only to free and fair primaries not based on zoning. Because you don’t do zoning at the eve of the primary. 

“If there’s going to zoning those involved in the decision will have to be so comprehensive that the people of the state understand it. And number two, if you have zoning, you will not allow people who are not from the particular zone to procure forms. 

“Now the national Secretariat of the party is on record as having issued the statement, which was widely used to the effect that the APC governorship ticket was open to anyone who is eligible to procure the nomination form which was why at the end of the day, we have 12 candidates that procured the form. 

“So the key issue in my conversation with Mr. President is that the primary that have been rescheduled for tomorrow to continue is not based on and will not be based on zoning, it will be based on free and fair primaries. 

“It  is a continuation of the exercise that had some challenges arising from an individual proclaiming himself as as a returning officer, which is completely strange to the rules of the party, which has led to what the media has widely reported as two factions, emerging. So that’s it.”

Oshiomhole added that he had the authority of the President to address the press on the zoning matter, alleging that there have been many lies and half truths being peddled around.

According to him, “Now what is fair in a democracy is not for any man including the president to single-handedly impose anyone. The fairness of the process is determined by whether or not the candidate that emerge is the true choice of the electorate, of the APC members. ⁣

“And that is where the President stands. Now when you choose to single out Edo state, you are just being unfair. Is it not the same APC where recently, in Kogi state, you have back-to-back somebody from one senatorial zone succeeding the other? 

“Why is Edo different? In Benue State, since 1999, you’ve had only people from one part, one particular language, the Tivs that have produced governor after governor since 1999. Are you about to change the rules? In any case, who are you and I to dictate to Edo APC members where their candidate must come from?⁣

“If you impose a candidate, as some of you want to suggest when you go for the election proper, are you going to tell people to vote based on your own privileged elite consensus of turn-by-turn democracy? ⁣

“We are known for turn-by-turn democracy and I have been in Edo politics since 2007. I won the election against what PDP considered to be the preferred candidate. Only the people of Edo state, in this case, and at this stage the people of APC, can nominate the candidate I have the authority of the President to clarify this. His name should not be used recklessly by people who are afraid of free and fair elections. ⁣

“What I’ve committed to is that in a democracy, the majority must necessarily have their way. You can’t do it otherwise, there is no sentiment about it. Fairness means that the outcome is a reflection of the will of the people. Fairness is not when you allocate. This turn-buy-turn Democracy kills fairness. ⁣

“So I won’t stop here to talk if I didn’t have that discussion, and to have that discussion so that Edo people will feel Edo APC at the level of the primaries will feel free. And let me ask you. In all fairness is democracy imposing a smaller number on a bigger number. Look at the demographics. 

“I don’t like to talk about ethnicity because, for me, that is not it. And I don’t really care what people say. Everybody comes to me and say, I need you to endorse me, please I’ll be loyal to you. In worked to earn this. As I speak, I am not a governor.⁣

“By the time I re-contested the election to the Senate, I had been removed as the national chairman of APC. They could remove me from the office, but they could not remove my fighting spirit. And I’m back because I have my people with me. Some of you recall that that time they alleged that people from my ward have lost confidence in me, but I went back to the polls, and the people of Edo North reposed confidence in me. ⁣

“So I am used to losers trying to find somebody to blame. They come to you in the nighttime soliciting your endorsement. Don’t I have a voting right? ⁣

“But the important thing is that I have the authority of Mr President, and you can cross-check. I told him ‘Can I announce what I discussed whether or not tomorrow’s run-up election is based on zoning and he said ‘no, no zoning. ⁣

“It is merit and fairness. Fairness is not by individual allocating, fairness is by the process; members participated in direct primaries. The President is a Democrat and he has given me assurances that make me happy that only APC members will determine who their flagbearer will be. Because it is they who will carry the burden of the campaigns to get the people to vote.⁣”

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

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