The All Progressives Congress on Thursday inaugurated a seven-member Electoral Committee headed by the governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari, for the 2016 Edo State governorship election primaries.
It also constituted a three-member Election Appeal Committee chaired by a former member of the House of Representatives, Bamidele Opeyemi, for the election.
Other members of the electoral committee are Andrew Uchendu (Secretary), Yusuf Maianguwa, Tunde Esan, Shuaibu Musa, Ibrahim Soja and Amara Iwuanyanwu.
Mustapha Salisu and Ekwy Onyido will serve in the appeal committee.
The committees were inaugurated at the party’s national secretariat by the deputy national chairman (South), Segun Oni.
Mr. Oni said the election committee would conduct the primary election to pick the party’s flag bearer for the September 10 governorship poll while the appeal committee would handle complaints and petitions arising from the primary.
Speaking at the inauguration, Mr. Masari said the committee had no preferred candidate and that it would ensure justice and fairness to all the contestants.
He said, “On behalf of members of my committee, I want to assure you that we will follow the guidelines given to us by the party. I want to also assure you that we will do our best and produce the best and we hope that there will be no work for the Appeals Committee.
“We are going to do a thorough job. I also want to use this opportunity to assure that we will do Justice to all. We have no preferred candidate, we have no friends and what we will be doing in Edo, we will be doing for APC, for Nigeria and for the Edo people.”
The governor recounted that he had a bitter experience when he went through a similar process and that he knew how a party could lose election through an unfair and unjust primaries.
“It has happened in my state and in so many states,” Mr. Masari said.
He described the assignment as “critical and important” considering the number of candidates and the strength of the APC and that of the opposition in Edo State.
He stated, “That will make us do what is right for the people of Edo state and for APC as a political party. I am assuring you that what will come out of this exercise will be a result that can stand in any court of law because you cannot rule out the possibility of somebody going on appeal.
“What are critical are peace and the cooperation of the contestants. They are 12 and they need each other. Either win or lose, they still need each other. This is a very important and critical work and I am assuring the party that we are going to do the best to ensure Justice and fairness to all the contestants.”
Mr. Masari thanked the party for considering the members of the committee for the assignment, adding “we assure the party that we will not fail.”
Mr. Bamidele expressed confidence that there would be no reason for appeal after the primaries.
While thanking the APC leadership for giving members of the committee the opportunity to add value in their own little way, the chairman noted that the constitution of the country as well as cases that had been decided by Election Petition Tribunals, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court had made it clear that before any aspirant could go to court, he should have explored and exhausted the internal mechanism available within the party.
He said, “You must not only explore, but must have exhausted the internal mechanism available within the party of trying to protest or complain before coming to the court room. It is in that regard that we see the assignment given to us by the party as a very sensitive one.”
Mr. Bamidele added, “We hope there will be no reason for anyone to come to appeal, but it is easier we assume. What is more important is not the complaint but if the process of selecting the candidate is transparent, if will be easier to manage.”
Meanwhile, the APC has said 2873 delegates will participate in the June 18 primary election to pick its candidate for the governorship election.
The National Organising Secretary of the party, Osita Izunaso, announced this in Abuja.
Going by the APC 2014 guidelines for the nomination of candidates for public office, delegates for the 2016 APC Edo Governorship Election Primaries Committee are constituted into an Electoral College comprising of the following: 12 Principal Officers of the Ward Executive Committee; all members of the Local Government Executive Committee from all the Local Government Areas in the State; all members of the State Executive Committee; all members of the National Executive Committee from the State; all members of the Board of Trustees and National Caucus from the State; all elected persons from the State.
So far, 12 aspirants, comprising 11 males and one female, collected the APC Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for the governorship election.
Those on the list released by the party’s national secretariat on Thursday are Blessing Agbomhere; Charles Airhiavbere; Fredrick Amadasun; Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula; Austin Emuan; Peter Esele; and Kenneth Imansuangbon.
Others are incumbent deputy governor, Pius Odubu; Godwin Obaseki; Justina Ojehor; Christopher Ogiemwonyi; and a former governor of the state, Oserheimen Osunbor.
All the aspirants were successfully screened a seven member committee headed by Chibudum Nwuche, a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives.