The investigations had revealed that the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, both had made N130.5m from the sale of the Edo governorship nomination and expression of interest forms to aspirants who were interested in contesting the primary.
Recall that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, at a briefing at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on February 5 said the commission had fixed September 19 for the governorship election in Edo State.
Out of the N130.5m, while APC raked in N67.5m from the sale of three sets of expression of interest and nomination forms, the PDP, which also has three aspirants, made N63m.
For the APC, the amount was realised from the N22.5m paid each by the three aspirants who have so far bought the forms as at the close of business on Friday.
Those who have so far collected the forms include: Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Governor Godwin Obaseki.
National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Kola Ologbondiyan, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said three aspirants had purchased forms to contest the party’s primary.
The party extended the sale of its forms from last Friday to Monday (tomorrow).
It was learnt that the move might not be unconnected with the need to accommodate aggrieved members of the APC who might be considering defecting to the PDP.
“We have strong candidates for the election. Already, three aspirants have picked our forms. The primary is going to be free, fair and transparent. The NWC of the PDP under the leadership of Prince Uche Secondus has no room for manipulation of primary. The people themselves will deliver the candidate of their choice through their votes.
“There will be no room for imposition of candidate. We are even ready to sell our forms to those who have yet to join us. We are not foreclosing the issue of waivers,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of the PDP has said it will welcome Governor Godwin Obaseki into its fold if he chooses to defect from the APC following the protracted crisis rocking the ruling party in the state.
It, however, stated there was no deal to cede the PDP governorship ticket to the governor, ruling out the possibility of giving him an automatic ticket to contest the September 2020 election.
However, the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, told one of our correspondents that while the party’s doors were open to the governor if he failed to secure the APC ticket, he (Obaseki) would have to go through the rigours of the party’s rules and regulations.
Nehikhare said, “The governor has not approached us and we have not approached him. Of course, our doors are open; he’s free to come and join. But on the issue of an automatic ticket, that’s not possible. He’ll have to go through our normal procedure. That is the position of the party.
“There is no deal to cede the governorship ticket to the governor if he defects. We’re not holding any discussion secretly or openly.”
Nehikhare, however, said there was no cause for alarm with the emergence of Ize-Iyamu as the consensus candidate of a faction of the APC. Ize-Iyamu was the PDP governorship candidate in the 2016 governorship election.
“The popularity he gained then was because he was a PDP member and because the PDP was able to promote him and present him to the people. It was not by his personality or who he was, but by the platform on which he contested at that time.
“We will not interfere in the internal affairs of the APC and they can bring anybody they want. Edo people will decide at the right time,” he stated.
Nehihkare also stated that the party’s chances in the election were not dependent on the crisis in the APC, adding that “our process is always the indirect primary. We will have an election for delegates first before the delegates will choose who our candidate will be.
“Our strength is not in the weakness of our opponent but in the message of development we are sending to the electorate that we will do better; we are not like the APC.