Amb Tony Okonigene reviews the crisis in the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP that has pitched the tendency aligned with Governor Godwin Obaseki against the Chief Dan Orbih led mainstream putting to question the dithering procrastination of the national chairman, Senator Iyorcha Ayu in submitting the approved candidates of the party to the electoral umpire
When the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court Abuja concerning the Edo PDP Ad-hoc delegates, some people went out celebrating an imaginary victory. They were not briefed on the import of the pronouncement of the court that delegates issues are the domestic affairs of the party.
It is true that the political parties have their domestic affairs just like husbands and wives but they have their boundaries. In exercising your domestic rights, you must not circumvent any instant law of the land nor cross your boundaries into another man’s lane.
In conducting congresses and primaries, all the major actors have rules, regulations and laws governing their conducts. The political parties have theirs and INEC has its own. Non should diminish the other’s.
Now, the Electoral Act mandates the political parties to conduct their congresses and primaries in line with the provisions of their constitution, the Constitution of the FRN ( As Amended) and the Electoral Act (As Amended).
The Act empowers only the political parties to submit the names of candidates the intend to sponsor, who must emerged from valid processes, to INEC. These are purely domestic to the parties.
In the same vein, the Electoral Act says INEC SHALL monitor the congresses and primaries. The Act also empowers INEC to reject any candidate submitted by any political party who did not emerge from a valid primary monitored by the commission.
These are also exclusively domestic to INEC. The Supreme Court has long settled the fact that were the word SHALL is used in a law, it means MUST.
In the case of the Edo State PDP, INEC has made it clear in writing to the Iyorcha Ayu led NWC, that it will not accept the names of Governor Obaseki’s candidates since they did not emerge from valid primaries monitored by the commission. INEC has rejected the names and requested for the particulars and names of the candidates of the Legacy PDP whose primaries were monitored by INEC and emerged through valid processes.
Let us get some facts clear concerning the ruling of the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal intentionally did not give an order to INEC and PDP who were parties to the case to recognize and publish the names of the governor’s candidates as opposed to the directives of the Federal High Court which ordered INEC not to recognize any other candidate except the ones that emerged from primaries conducted by delegates from congresses monitored by INEC.
The Court of Appeal was conscious of the fact that it cannot make an order to circumvent the Electoral Act.
As things stand now, the only way Edo PDP can have candidates for the 2023 General Election is for the embattled PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorcha Ayu to offload the candidates of the Legacy PDP into the INEC candidates portal.
These are the only names INEC are bound to accept and publish. This action will effectively bring to an end all litigations in Edo State PDP concerning the candidates. Ayu knows this but for some reasons, his hands appear tied. Only the Supreme Court can loosen Ayu’s hands.
To loosen the tied hands of Ayu, so that he can do the needful, the Legacy PDP in Edo State has headed to the Supreme Court.
It is speculated that the governor may have succeeded in tying the national chairman and cornering Atiku and some other party big wigs to support his invalid candidates but the Legacy PDP valid candidates have God , the Constitution of the FRN and the Electoral Act on their side.