A former minister of state for works and governorship aspirant in Edo State, Chris Ogiemwonyi, has accused some members of the National Assembly caucus from the state of buying up the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) from accredited delegates ahead of the governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
At a press conference, the former minister, who was represented by his campaign director of planning, strategy and operations, Akemokue Lukman, said: “The issue has to do with the attempts by people who are in high places of governance, lawmakers to smuggle in a gubernatorial aspirant under the platform of APC into the candidature of the party through the back door.
“These they intend to do by disenfranchising the voters and the statutory delegates scheduled to take part in the primaries.
“The lawmaker called the delegates to his house, requesting, threatening and intimidating the delegates to submit their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) to him, with an intention to disenfranchise the voters and use the PVCs for outward purpose,” he alleged
While condemning the act, the minister said such is not acceptable to the generality of APC members in Edo State and the country at large.
Already, all aspirants for the state’s governorship election were at the party secretariat on Monday, returning their forms in preparation for screening and subsequent primaries.
The aspirants included Godwin Obaseki, Egnr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Gen. Charles Ehigie Airhiavebere (Rtd), Mrs Tina Agbarha, the only woman aspirant, Dr. Pius Odubu and Bar. Keneth Imansuagbon. Others are Prof. Osunbor, Blessing Agbomehere, and Arch. Austine Ifenre Emuan, Emmanuel Arigbe-Osuala and Peter Esele.
Responding when confronted with the allegation of disenfranchisement, Godwin Obaseki, said “I don’t think Chris Ogiemwonyi can say that, he is too responsible to say such a thing, I was in Auchi yesterday where Hon. Philip Shuaibu hosted about 400 delegates and we were all seated there and they all (delegates) have their voter cards. So, for someone to make such an unguarded statement, it is rather unfortunate, and this is what we are trying to discourage that people must run a campaign that is clear and truthful.
Airhiavebere who was in company of the only female aspirant in the race, Mrs. Tina Agbarra declared that “I will not be in the category of people that will step down. And in any case, where is the face of democracy in this country, how can we grow democracy, how can we consolidate democracy”? he queried.
“I contested in 2012, I was in the PDP, we were nine and the delegate population was 792 and I scored 407 of the votes. The man that came behind me had 187 that is Kenneth Imasuagbon, we have all moved to the APC. At that time, I was not even encouraged even in my own home. I was told that the Comrade governor’s performance was unequaled and nobody could challenge him but I did and I told them at that time that it is only a state where there is no horse that you say that your own is a fast runner”.
On the allegation that an aspirants is buying up PVCs from the delegates that would vote in the primaries the General said: “That information is very correct. Delegates have been reporting that some members of the public have been moving around, buying PVCs for N5, 000.
He said: “I don’t know what they want to do with it, it could be probably for cloning, a very dangerous precedence, definitely fraudulent and will not be acceptable by those of us that are standing before you especially myself”.
Also speaking on the PVCs buying allegation, Edo State Deputy Governor and aspirant for the APC ticket, Pious Obudu said he cannot confirm the allegation because he was out of the state when the allegation was made.
His words: “I arrived Abuja yesterday (Sunday) and I heard that allegation too, but I cannot confirm whether it is true or not because I’m not in Edo State at the moment. In any case, if anybody does that, it’s just a wasteful exercise because there are other forms of identification aside the PVCs”.
On whether he is aware that the incumbent governor, Adams Oshiomhole has endorsed one of the aspirants to be the party’s flag bearer, he said: ” I know my boss, if he had anointed anybody, he would not be afraid to say so publicly, to the extent he has not said so publicly, that is in the realm of rumor and I will urge you to take it as such”.