Lawyer shares the story of how APC chieftains defeated their own party during Edo election

Umohinyang says APC chieftains have got to realise that party supremacy supersedes their pecuniary objectives.

Barrister Emmanuel Umohinyang who is the President of the Center for Leadership and Justice, a civil society organisation, says the All Progressives Congress (APC) worked against itself before and during the Edo governorship election which held on September 19, 2020.

Incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki, who had defected from the APC to the PDP in June, defeated Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC and a dozen other candidates to win the governorship contest.

Umohinyang says the loss for APC was an inside job from the APC.

“The leaders of the party, chieftains of the party, decided to go against the party position. Which I think is very unfortunate.about:blank

“Democracy was not built to be like that. Party supremacy is what drives democratic processes when you remember where we are coming from during the first republic,” he says.

“A party gives a directive and rebels decide to do otherwise because their interest was not protected. The party is supreme at all times. As soon as the party decides on anything, whether it favours you or not, you fall into line and take the party position.

In Edo, even the governor who had defected to another party, was still boasting. It is not about Ize-Iyamu, neither is it about Obaseki. It is about the morality of the process.

“A governor that said Edo is not Lagos in the morning, and in the evening you are in Lagos seeking for help from the same place you are frowning at. Where is morality? It was the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi who said we have to stand up for what is right, even if it means standing alone. Because at the end, you will be vindicated.”

Umohinyang also says President Muhammadu Buhari has significantly strengthened the country’s democratic process.

“The problem with elections in our country has always been a case of whoever is in the federal wins almost all the elections. Under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, the game has changed.

“And I want to appeal to the opposition that you do not only criticize the person when things go wrong, you also encourage him when he has lived up to expectation.

“That is why I have a problem with a sitting president being referred to as leader of the party. The sitting president is only a driver. He takes the manifesto of the party for implementation. When he is going astray, he can be called upon.

“Imagine where we started in 1999, where a sitting president decided who becomes the senate president, who becomes the CJN (Chief Justice Of Nigeria), who becomes the party chairman. And the senate president position was being changed like somebody changing wrapper.

“Imagine where we started in 1999, where a sitting president decided who becomes the senate president, who becomes the CJN (Chief Justice Of Nigeria), who becomes the party chairman. And the senate president position was being changed like somebody changing wrapper.

We should get to a point of electoral maturity where when you lose, you concede defeat, congratulate the winner and see how you can work with the winner to advance the frontiers of possibilities of the people. But what has happened generally in Edo was a case of the PDP not being on the ballot, strictly speaking. It was an APC Vs APC affair,” he says.

The APC heads to the polls once more in Ondo on October 10, 2020. Incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the APC squares up to his biggest challengers Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP and his estranged deputy Agboola Ajayi of the ZLP.

Umohinyang wants politicians to respect the process, play by the rules and understand that the party is supreme, ahead of the Ondo election.

“What has happened in the political process we are seeing now is an unhealthy one, it’s not helping our country. It’s not politics of ideology. People have become agents of the ministry of stomach affairs.

“It’s where the food is that you drive to. It’s so shameful and I feel so shameful for the chieftains of the APC who did those things. The party is supreme at all times and it should remain so, so that we can grow our democracy.

“As unfortunate as it is, I think also that the president has shown capacity and leadership by ensuring at all times that the best wins–since he came in in 2015. And he’s maintained that, whether the candidate is a member of his party or not.

I mean you could barely see a president who receives a candidate that has just defeated his party at the presidential villa and congratulated him for the electoral victory. we‘ve had two presidents or three in the past…I mean you know what happened. By now, you won’t even have opposition governors.

“We saw in Ekiti where opposition governors or chieftains were blocked from even accessing the state because of what the party at the center wants to do. But Muhammadu Buhari cannot do that and I’m sure he will never, till he leaves office in 2023.

“So, I think the opposition should always balance the tree. You commend the president when you see he has shown leadership, you criticize him constructively when you see he’s going astray,” he says.

Source: Pulse Nigeria

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