A governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State, Clem Agba, said a former governor, Adams Oshiomhole, led the APC pruning committee to announce that 29 aspirants have been trimmed to six without.
The Independent National Electoral Commission fixed September 21, 2024, for the state governorship election.
The APC slated the primary where its candidate would emerge for February 17, 2024.
The APC had set up a committee as an internal mechanism to screen and prune down the number of aspirants to a manageable level to ensure a rancour-free primary election.
Consequently, the committee pruned the number of aspirants from 29 to 10, and subsequently to six, with two aspirants from each of the three senatorial districts.
They include Ernest Umakhihe (Owan East LGA), Clem Agba (Etsako East LGA), Lucky Imasuen (Ovia North East LGA, Dennis Idahosa (Ovia South West LGA), David Imuse (Esan West LGA) and Monday Okpebholo (Esan Central LGA).
Reacting, an aspirant in Edo State, Anamero Dekeri, Monday described the APC Pruning Committee’s report as lacking in merit.
But Agba, a former Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, while appearing on Channels TV’s Politics Today on Monday said the highlight of the report was read to all aspirants.
Agba disclosed that the 29 aspirants agreed that the number be pruned to minimise waste of resources.
He stated, “On the 13th of January the leadership of the party in the state invited the aspirants for a meeting and they did say that 29 was unwieldy and it would amount to a waste of money. That was one reason they felt that there was a need to prune down.
“The meeting was chaired by the leader of APC in Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole in Abuja. The 29 aspirants and statutory APC stakeholders were all there. The issue was l’et us prune the number because at the end of the day, there’s just going to be one candidate and we need to remain as one family.’
“And the aspirants were asked, ‘do you agree that we should do this?’ And there was no one that rejected the suggestion that was made. So we agreed, yes. At that meeting, we were 26. Eventually, it increased to 29.
“First in Edo before coming to Abuja, it was made clear that there would be no zoning. In fact, the state secretary announced that. And on the basis of that, you will find out that there were aspirants from all three senatorial districts.
“At the meeting on the 13th, it was also reiterated that there will be no zoning, so it wasn’t one of the criteria that was to be used for pruning. And then when we met again with the APC National Working Committee, it was further reiterated that there will be no zoning and that there will be a pruning to a manageable number.
“We went through that exercise, I think on the 15th and 16th. That’s Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th. I was interviewed on Tuesday, and then on the 19th we were all invited to the National Assembly, one of the halls was what we used. That was where the report of the committee was presented to us by the leader of the party in our state, because of course, the committee had presented the report to the APC leadership. They had scrutinised it asked questions, and then presented that report to us at that meeting.
“And we were told that it had been pruned down to six aspirants. That is two per Senatorial district. Since that happened, no other meeting has been called. We were just told that it has been pruned down to six aspirants. We weren’t
presented with a written report, but the Chairman of that meeting, read through the highlights and he did say that the six names were not in order of performance”.
Agba, who noted that the APC leadership said the committee’s report is advisory, added that the number of aspirants was never pruned to four.
He stated, “We had a meeting and they said we would like to do pruning. Do you agree? We said yes. And we went through an exercise. We were all given the terms of reference for it and then they came back to present the result of it. If there was going to be any other further pruning, don’t you think that the six who made it should be invited once again?
“The process was fair, but I don’t have the details of the report. So I don’t know what was written in the report to know whether it was fair or not”.