The rowdy Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship primary election which took place on Thursday and ended in the early hours of Friday is still receiving backlash. The Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, venue of the indirect primary, hosted more than 3,000 persons. Many have lampooned the governor for breaching his own COVID-19 regulations and guidelines, as well as the recommendations by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
Condemning the exercise, the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa upbraided the governor for “irresponsibility and recklessness” and called for his immediate arrest and quarantine. In press statement on Saturday titled “A call for the immediate arrest and Quarantine of Governor Godwin Obaseki over Irresponsible Primaries cum Rally in Edo State”, spokesman of the group, Steve Adepoju said “After the sad spectacle that played out on Friday, June 19, when Governor Godwin Obaseki gathered hundreds of youths at the PDP Secretariat in Benin where he completed his defection without social distancing or adherence to safety guidelines contained in his own gazette and the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID – 19, the embattled Governor took his irresponsibility and recklessness to new heights on Thursday, June 25, at the primaries staged by his new party at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium”.
Adepoju noted that A”s evidenced by multiple pictures and video recordings, hundreds of delegates, who were initially camped in hotels after traveling into the capital city of Benin in batches, huddled together at the event without a single care for social distancing principles in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease at a time the country is witnessing another wave. In one of the visuals, these so-called delegates formed long, tight queues where they leaned on each other, yelled freely, and engaged in actions that were clearly prohibited as they struggled for the freebies made available by the Governor from questionable sources as part of inducements to influence their votes. Many of them had no face-masks on.
“Sadly, the leaders at the event, who ordinarily ought to lead by example and insist on the right things, also joined in the melee in the most irresponsible way possible. Disturbingly too, the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, who was guest of Governor Godwin Obaseki at a Government House meeting hours before the primary has now been placed on immediate isolation after members of his family, specifically his wife and daughter, unfortunately, tested positive to the virus”. (Only the governor’s daughter tested positive)
The group said while they offered prayers for a quick recovery of the affected persons, it stressed that “it is important to bring to the notice of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and indeed all of Edo people that Governor Okowa, who is now at great risk of being exposed to the disease prior, freely mingled with Governor Godwin Obaseki in drawn-out political meetings. It is therefore not far-reaching to hold the view that Governor Godwin Obaseki, arising from his thoughtlessness and irresponsibility, is now a walking risk and possible vector of the disease”.
Adepoju argued that if Okowa had been asked to compulsorily isolate himself for the prescribed 14 days on the suspicion that he had been exposed, “then it only follows logically that those he had close, unguarded contact with like Governor Godwin Obaseki be asked to do the same to protect members of the public and prevent a silent spread. This, we believe, is the entire point of contact tracing – an important process in limiting the spread of the viral disease. Hence, based on all of these, we are once again calling on the NCDC, alongside other relevant agencies, to immediately arrest and quarantine the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki for a 14-day period to ensure he is not a potential risk to all”.
Adepoju asserted that in the fight against the viral disease, “there can be no sacred cows. We cannot afford to create a situation where the people are held to different standards than those who occupy high offices. Irresponsible actions should bear consequences irrespective of the class and status of those who carry them out. Anything contrary to this will do great harm to the reputation and integrity of these agencies and dishonor the sacrifice of frontline health workers who toil day and night – at great risk to personal health – to rid the country of the disease”.