By Eki Iguomoson
As the countdown begins to run towards the next gubernatorial election in Edo State, many issues are being thrown up, especially within the ranks of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Shortly after gaining reprieve from several months’ suspension for anti-party activities, the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North) Senator Lawal Shuaibu was been recorded on tape claiming that Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the embattled Governor of Edo State is the party’s “strongest candidate”, whatever that means.
Obviously, Senator Shuaibu appears not to have learnt any useful lessons from his suspension which was linked to his ignoble role in the Dog- in-a-Manger fight in his Zamfara State, a needless tussle that eventually cost the party all the elective positions in the 2019 General Election.
He doesn’t also seem to have learnt that all politics is local; and that therefore, not being from Edo State, he lacks the power to declare “weak” or “strong” “candidates” amongst the many other distinguished Edo sons seeking the nomination ticket of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
Senator Shuaibu definitely doesn’t remember that the APC is a product of the struggle to enthrone internal democracy in the politics of the country, which aspiration had been compromised by the impunity of the PDP party leadership throughout the period of its control of government between 1999-2015.
One feature of that ignoble era was the penchant of party leaders of the PDP at that time to declare that seats of incumbents were not vacant, even before the party primary elections were conducted. Ironically, Senator Shuaibu alluded to that undemocratic practice which he condemned, but strangely went on to spread the falsehood that incumbents cannot be challenged for party tickets, citing the political system of the United States of America as an example.
In order to put the records straight, it is necessary to repudiate the false claim of Senator Shuaibu that in the US, incumbents seeking re-election are guaranteed automatic tickets. The true position is that in the US political party system, many incumbents have lost party nomination primaries.
In the particular case of gubernatorial primaries of the two major political parties, the Democratic Party and Republican Party, it is on record that in the last 16 years alone four incumbent Governors lost their party tickets and therefore could not contest the main gubernatorial election.
For instance, in 2004, Bob Holden, a member of the Democratic Party and incumbent Governor of Missouri was challenged and defeated in the contest for the party’s gubernatorial ticket by fellow Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Holden relied on his closeness to the national hierarchy of the Democratic Party in his quest to gain the party nomination ticket. But, in an open nomination election exercise held in August 2004, Holden was rejected by his party’s grassroots members in favour of Claire McCaskill, a woman who later became Senator from the state of Missouri.
Same year, 2004, Olene Walker, an incumbent Republican Governor of Utah, was defeated by his party member, Jon Huntsman, in the gubernatorial primary election.
A similar thing happened in 2006 when Frank Murkowski, the sitting Governor of Alaska, was defeated in the Republican Gubernatorial primary by Sarah Palin, who went on to win the general election, defeating her Democratic Party opponent by a landslide.
She was later nominated by Senator John McCain as Vice Presidential Candidate of the Republican Party in the 2008 US presidential election. In 2010, Jim Gibbons, a Republican incumbent Governor of Nevada, was defeated in the gubernatorial party primary by his fellow party member, Brian Sandoval. The list is endless.
If Senator Shuaibu was only displaying obvious ignorance of the workings of the US political system, it may not have been a problem. However, from the contradictions in his utterances, it is quite clear that Senator Shuaibu’s undemocratic remarks are labored efforts at justifying his pay being one of the many beneficiaries of the reckless wastage of scarce funds of Edo State, which was deployed to prosecute the failed bid to remove Comrade Adams Oshiomhole from the office of National Chairman of the APC.
Senator Shuaibu and his paymaster must be told loud and clear that incumbency does not guarantee and can never guarantee automatic ticket to any Governor, let alone one like Governor Obaseki who is using blackmail and brigandage against his fellow party members in a desperate bid to forcibly obtain the gubernatorial ticket of the APC in Edo State. Only the party members of the APC in Edo State shall determine who earns the party gubernatorial ticket, not Senator Shuaibu or other reckless, undemocratic elements like him.
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