…Obaseki says Edo would resist any forced hijack of State Assembly***
…As INEC threatens to halt Edo, Ondo polls, if there is violence***
The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says conducting free and credible elections in Edo and Ondo state, will rekindle the citizens’ hope in the country.
PDP National Chairman Uche Secondus said this on Thursday when the party National Working Committee (NWC) received the two reconciled factions of the PDP in Ogun led by the newly elected state chairman, Alhaji Sikirulai Ogundele at the PDP headquarters in Abuja.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free and fair elections in Edo and Ondo State.
Secondus said that the party did not want a repeat of what happened in other states to in Edo, saying credible elections would ease the trauma Nigerians were going through.
He expressed satisfaction that both sides of the party in Ogun PDP came together and were able to conduct credible and transparent congress that produced the newly elected state executives for PDP in Ogun.
“Ogun is going to take this example to other states to show that when leaders come together, they can always resolve their differences.
“You do not need any interference. It is not our style or wish to intervene in other states because they have leaders.
“Leaders who are more experienced, leaders who have been in places and leaders who have shown capacity both at the national and state levels.
“So, you do not need the NWC. Allow the NWC to concentrate in the affairs of putting the party together to move forward and how we can win our elections,” he said.
Secondus congratulated the new executive members, urging them to continue in a peaceful manner to produce the next governor, senators, House of Representatives members and state of Assembly members in the state.
Speaking earlier, Ogundele said they were at the party national secretariat to appreciate Secondus and other NWC members for the support extended to them to end the lingering crisis that had caused the state branch of the party misfortunes.
Ogundele, who said there was no more problem in PDP in Ogun, said the problem of the state in the state was that they had not been united.
“I have brought greetings from Rep. Ladi Adebutu who is unavoidably absent today.
“We are here to familiarise ourselves with the NWC and we pray God to give the chairman more wisdom, knowledge and understanding that will lead us to success,” he said.
Former chairman of the party, Mr Bayo Dayo, said that the party now had Sen. Buruji Kashamu’s supporters within the party fold.
Dayo expressed optimism that with the unity within the state chapter, the PDP would win the next elections in the state.
In his remark, Dr Doyin Okupe, said that their joy knew no bound because two major warring factions in Ogun had reconciled into one group.
Okupe said that the new executive members were legally elected through state congress, supervised by the national secretariat.
“We have organised that congress and two groups unanimously came together and we have elected this new exciting. We have come a long way.
“We have come also to show gratitude because whatever we have achieved today, money alone could not have done it.
“If the national secretariat had not been forthright and defined justice, we will not be here.
“Finally, do not at anytime doubt our loyalty. We will be loyal to your administration, we will be loyal to your executive committee and we will do your bidding, ” he said.
In a related development, Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo said on Thursday assured that the state would resist any attempt by anybody to forcefully take over the state House of Assembly.
Addressing newsmen at the assembly complex in Benin, Obaseki said he would do everything within his constitutional powers to protect the sovereignty of the house and the state.
The governor’s statement was not unconnected with media reports credited to the Speaker of the house, Francis Okiye.
Okiye had alleged that Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo and the impeached Deputy Speaker of the house, Yekini Idiaye, had planned to import a fake mace to violently take over control of the assembly.
“Nigeria is governed by the constitution and President Muhammadu Buhari has always said we must follow the rules of law and do things according to the law.
“For us as the executive, we will use the instrument available to us constitutionally to protect the house and the state,” Obaseki said.
The governor, however, urged the house to go about its normal duties as a parliament as prescribed by the constitution.
Also, the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, said the state government would not allow other members of the assembly whose seat had been declared vacant to take over the house.
According to him, the affected elected legislators have yet to be constitutionally inaugurated.
He also called on the president to intervene in the alleged plot to destabilise the state assembly.
Meanwhile, the entrance and exit gates of the assembly complex have been barricaded with sand and gravel, while some people have seen removing the roof of the building.
The speaker said the house was currently under renovation and the presence of security operatives at the entrance of the complex, scared the contractor and workers away.
“We are going to keep vigil here to forestall the alleged illegal invasion of the house by anybody,” Okiye said.
In the meantime, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says it will suspend the Edo and Ondo governorship election process if the actions of political actors led to a breakdown of law and order.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, announced this on Thursday in Abuja after a meeting where stakeholders deliberated on a number of issues, including preparations for the elections.
Okoye said that the commission had observed with deep concern, the escalating levels of violent actions and incendiary statements by political parties, candidates and their supporters, in the run up to the elections.
“These actions include destruction of opponents’ campaign materials such as billboards, violent campaigns and use of offensive language.
“It is important for political parties, candidates and their supporters to keep in mind that there are extant laws and regulations that must be adhered to, during campaigns.
“The commission will not shirk its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game.
“Consequently, parties and candidates must, on no account, underestimate the resolve of the commission to enforce the rules and regulations and apply appropriate sanctions against those who choose to break them.
“The commission remains determined to conduct peaceful elections in the two states and in the outstanding National and State Assembly bye-elections.”
Okoye said that political parties must realise that Edo and Ondo governorship elections were taking place at a time of a global pandemic and the commission was working assiduously to observe and comply with all health and safety protocols issued by the commission and health authorities.
He said that with the pandemic taking its toll on the citizenry, the people of Edo and Ondo states must be saved from the added burden of violent and raucous elections.
“Political parties must remember that Edo and Ondo governorship elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines and threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis.
“The commission will continue to engage stakeholders in the two states on the need for free, fair, safe and peaceful elections, given that it has committed enormous public resources in preparing for them.
“The commission will view gravely, any disruptive actions by political actors,” he warned.
Okoye said that the commission would work with, and collaborate with the security agencies to contain incidents or threats of violence before and during the elections.
“Regulatory agencies with roles in the elections, especially those dealing with insecurity, hate speech and abuse of mass media, must step up their activities and ensure that people caught breaking the law were held to account,” he said.
The commission reassured the people of Edo and Ondo of its determination to conduct credible and safe elections in the two states, and urged residents to support the process.