It is confusion galore in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State as three aspirants are laying claim to the party’s governorship ticket after its primary election on Saturday to elect a candidate to fly the party’s flag in the 21 September 2024 governorship election.

The national leadership of the party had screened and cleared a total of 12 aspirants for the direct primary. However, three of the aspirants, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Lucky Imasuen and Ernest Umakhihe, withdrew from the race before the election.

At the conclusion of the exercise on Saturday, Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, who is the Chairman of the APC Primary Election Committee, announced House of Representatives member, Dennis Idahosa, as winner of the primary election held at Protea Hotel.

Uzodimma said Idahosa won the election with 40,453 votes.

“Of the 12 aspirants that contested this primary, Clem Agba scored 100 votes, Senator Monday Okpepholo, 100; Dekeri Anamero, 230; Gideon Ikhine, 700 votes. David Imuse got 400 votes; Charles Airhavebere, 163 votes; Prof Osarieme Osunbor, 180 votes; Dr Blessing Agbomere, 50 votes; Dennis Idahosa, 40,453 votes; Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, two votes; Lucky Imasuen and Pastor Ize-Iyamu scored two votes respectively,” Uzodimma said.

“Therefore, Dennis Idahosa, having scored the highest votes cast, is hereby declared winner of the primary and returned as the candidate of the party,” he said.

The governor also explained that there was a mix-up as to the secretariat of the committee, noting that Protea Hotel and not Lushville Hotel was the authentic secretariat.

“There was misinformation as regards the venue of the primary. This is the secretariat where results were collated and would be announced,” Uzodimma said.

The explanation became necessary because the returning officer, Stanley Ugboaja, had also declared Senator Monday Okpebholo winner of the primary with 12,145 votes, claiming he was the right person to announce the result.

“I am the right person to declare the results of this primary election but unfortunately, I was not allowed to finish the announcement. We will continue the announcement here,” Ugboaja said.

“Having scored the highest number of votes, I hereby declare Senator Okpebholo the winner of the election,” he said.

The declaration, which took place at Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s residence in Benin City, came after the announcement of the results at Lushville was disrupted by suspected political thugs. As at the time of the disruption, the results of eight local government areas had been announced with Okpebholo in the lead.

The thugs overpowered police operatives at the gate and were hell-bent on attacking everybody, ordering delegates and others to vacate the venue. Journalists scampered for safety, but several of them, including an NTA cameraman and an FRCN reporter, were manhandled and their equipment damaged. Four people were injured in the process.

On Sunday, one Ojo Babatunde, who said he was acting on behalf of all the local government returning officers, announced the member representing Etsako Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Anamero Dekeri, as the winner of the primary.

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Babatunde said that Dekeri polled 25,384 votes to beat Dennis Idahosa who polled 14,127 votes to second place.

He said that Hon. Dekeri, “having met the requirements of the law and scored the highest valid votes cast”, has been declared winner of the election and returned elected.

Ganduje, Imuse congratulate Idahosa

Amid the confusion, the Publicity Secretary of the party, Peter Uwadiae, described the announcement by Uzodimma as illegal and urged the party hierarchy and APC members to disregard Uzodimma’s action.

That notwithstanding, the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje, has congratulated Dennis Idahosa on his emergence as the party’s candidate in the 2024 Edo governorship election.

Ganduje’s congratulatory message was contained in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Edwin Olofu, on Saturday.

While describing Idahosa as the choice of the people, the APC National Chairman urged him to carry other aspirants along to have a united front ahead of the governorship election in the state.

The former Kano governor also commended Uzodinma’s Primary Election Committee, saying its transparency in the conduct of the election is highly commendable.

“I want to congratulate the winner of the Edo State governorship election. I want to equally commend and appreciate Governor Hope Uzodimma’s election committee for their hard work and the transparent manner in which the primary election was conducted,” Ganduje said.

“At this point, I want to call on all the aspirants to bury the hatchet and work for the interest of the party so that our party will emerge victorious,” he said.

He also commended all the party stakeholders and assured them that the party would do everything possible to ensure that Edo State is delivered.

Also, one of the aspirants in Saturday’s APC governorship primary, Col. David Imuse (retd.), has congratulated Idahosa on his emergence as the party’s flag bearer.

“This triumph signifies a promising future not only for our esteemed party, the APC, but also for the well-being of our beloved Edo State,” Imuse said in a statement on Saturday.

“Your emergence as the flag bearer reflects the confidence and support you’ve garnered within the party,” he said.