A group of over 500 independent observers has rated the direct primary elections conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State to be free, fair, and credible.
The Coalition of Independent Election Observers which made this known in a report described the exercise as a reference point in the conduct of primaries in the country.
Recall that a former Auditor General for Local Governments in the state, Ahmed Usman Ododo, defeated six other aspirants to emerge as the party’s flagbearer for the November 11th elections.
In its report made public at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, the independent observers commended the APC for a seamless and rancour-free exercise.
It said the ruling party has demonstrated incredible unity under Governor Yahaya Bello and has set the bar so high – such that other political parties may never attain.
While admitting a few logistics-related issues along the way, the group noted that its team of observers deployed across the state inferred that no party member was disenfranchised.
The observers also debunked the claim that Governor Bello foisted his kinsman on the electorates as baseless, especially in a direct primary.
“The APC Gubernatorial primaries in Kogi State can be described as a seamless and rancor-free exercise that produced a former Auditor General for Local Governments in Kogi State, Ahmed Usman Ododo, the winner,” the report signed by Hon. Peter Obut,
Coordinating Director of Mission, said in part.
“Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo won the election convincingly and across the board with a margin indicative of his acceptance and popularity in the state. The process that produced the winner was also devoid of manipulation of favouritism, which was in tandem with the promise of Governor Yahaya Bello to allow for a level playing field for all the aspirants.
“It was also observed that the APC in Kogi state is formidable and a united party with stakeholders working assiduously in the interest of the party and the state. The insinuation that the party was left fragmented after the withdrawal of some aspirants on the eve of the election could not be substantiated as no evidence suggested such.
“The conduct of the primaries across the state was orderly and without any hitches. There are no recorded cases of intimidation or suppression by the APC-controlled state government. It was also observed that the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello had placed the APC in good stead across the three senatorial zones in the state.
“The Coalition of Independent Election Observers places on record the efforts at ensuring a level playing field for all the aspirants in the Kogi APC gubernatorial primaries was indeed commendable. The Governor of Kogi state, throughout the conduct of the primaries, ensured that all eligible voters exercised their rights to vote without fear or favour.
“The direct mode of primaries comes highly recommended due to the Kogi state example that ensured a free, fair, and transparent process. It was also responsible for the peaceful outcome of the primaries that produced Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo as the winner.
“The Coalition of Independent Election Observers in Kogi concludes that the Kogi State APC Gubernatorial Primaries serve as a reference point in the conduct of primaries in the country. The direct mode of primaries embraced ensured that all the aspirants’ aspirations were tested and endorsed by their immediate constituents.
“It is safe to say that the process that produced Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo was transparent and credible. The Coalition of Independent Election Observers highly recommends the Kogi State example in conducting gubernatorial primaries nationwide.”