Edo guber: Olumide Akpata writes INEC, says LP primary process lacks transparency

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A Labour Party (LP) aspirant for the Edo governorship election, Olumide Apata has claimed that his political party is not ready for its primary poll.

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The Edo governorship election has been slated for September 21, 2024.

The LP had initially fixed February 22 as the date for the conduct of its primary, but later shifted it to February 23.

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The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in a letter dated February 18 and addressed to Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), alleged that there is a plot to handpick a candidate for the election by the leadership of the party.

“I write to you in my capacity as an aspirant for the Edo State gubernatorial ticket on the platform of the Labour Party (“LP” or “the Party”). The purpose of this letter is to bring to your attention the lack of preparedness and transparency surrounding the Labour Party’s planned primaries to produce a gubernatorial candidate for the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo State,” the letter reads.

“As you are aware, the Electoral Act 2022 mandates political parties to conduct transparent primaries to produce candidates and also mandates the Independent National Electoral Commission (“INEC” or “the Commission”) to stipulate timelines for conducting these primaries.

“Numerous aspirants, including myself, have observed with dismay the conspicuous absence of transparency in the process, which has led to a mass exodus of aspirants from the race.

“This departure of aspirants is not merely a loss to the democratic process but also a testament to the erosion of trust and confidence in the integrity of the Party’s leadership.

“All of the aspirants, without exception, who have withdrawn from the process so far, have voiced concerns about its undemocratic nature.

“While some have diplomatically cited “personal reasons” for withdrawing, others have been more forthcoming in directly alleging that the Party leadership plans to handpick a preferred aspirant regardless of the outcome of any primaries held.

Akpata further said his attempts to get the leadership of the party to see reason and provide accountability were not successful.

“I have become constrained to speak out at this point because my repeated attempts to get the Party leadership to see reason and provide transparency around preparations for the primaries have failed to elicit any positive response,” he added.

“Rather, my candid inquiries have been met with disdain and an attempt to bully me into silence.

“INEC has a crucial role to play in protecting the sanctity of the choice of flagbearers by political parties. Your intervention at this stage will be pivotal to ensuring the LP adheres strictly to the spirit behind the reforms in the Electoral Act 2022 on transparent primaries.

“Turning a blind eye will mean surrendering to impunity and illegality.

“I am aware that INEC has demonstrated courage in the past to stand on the side of due process in political parties and entrench internal Party democracy. The LP’s primaries in Edo State provide you with another opportunity to walk the talk.

“Mr. Chairman, if things go awry, it could result in pre-election disputes to which INEC will inevitably be joined as a necessary party, thereby tying down its already meager resources and leaving the Commission to grapple with yet another unnecessary and avoidable display that could have been averted had the right thing been done and the warning signs heeded.”

 

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