Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Chinelo Obogo and Tony Osauzo, Benin, Tony John, Port Harcourt and Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Last minute moves to save the re-election bid of Governor Godwin Obaseki by the Presidency last night appeared to have hit the brick-wall as Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, said they were going ahead with the direct primary scheduled for June 22.
He also expressed optimism that it would be free, fair and transparent, adding that a candidate that can unify the party in state will emerge.
Governor Obaseki’s disqualification by the screening panel was affirmed by the appeal panel and National Working Committee (NWC) of the party at the weekend.
Rising from a meeting he and members of party’s National Working Committee (NWC) had the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, in the State House, yesterday, Oshiomhole told State House Correspondents that the exclusion of the incumbent governor from gubernatorial primary remained irrevocable.
“We’ve gone a long way: we’ve advertised the timetable, there was the stage of collection of forms and about six people collected forms. In that time table, we also provided for screening and we also provided for appeals arising from the screening.
“This is standard practice that the NWC has adopted since 2015 and in the case of Edo, we have completed the process of selling forms, we have also completed the process of screening, we have completed the process of appeals arising from the screening by those who wish to take advantage and the NWC has met and has reviewed the report of the screening committee and we were unanimous that the screening was thoroughly done and found that three people were eligible to contest, with regards to the provisions of our Constitution.”
Clark: PDP should adopt Obaseki as candidate
Notwithstanding, elder statesman, Edwin Clark said he was disappointed that President Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu have allowed Oshiomhole cause crisis in five states where the ruling party would have had electoral advantages.
He called on the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to cede its ticket to the embattled governor, who he said has done well in office.
In a statement, Clark said though he was not a member of the APC, the PDP or any other political party, he found it regrettable that the ruling party in Edo State is being destroyed by Oshiomhole’s leadership as it was in some other states in 2019 causing the party to lose in Zamfara, Bauchi and Adamawa to the PDP and did not have candidates in Rivers State for the elections.
“The goings-on in Edo State are a repetition of what happened at the Lagos State governorship primary of the APC in 2018, where the then governor was removed in a primary, which did not exist. It was a shame that the team that was sent to Lagos to conduct the APC primaries, at the time, under the leadership of a past governor of Cross River State, who had categorically stated at a press briefing that there was no primaries and that they were going to hold the primary the following day but recanted his words and later said there were primaries held. What type of party leadership is that?
“There is no doubt that there is no one that is indispensable, but to treat fellow party and countrymen in the manner that was done to the former Lagos governor and now to Governor Obaseki, is most horrendous.
“While I am not a member of the APC or of PDP, or any other political party, for that matter, it is regrettable that the APC in Edo State is being destroyed as it was in some other states in 2019 when due to the same manipulation and rascally interferences leading to wrong decisions, the APC lost Zamfara, Bauchi and Adamawa states to the PDP and did not have candidates in Rivers State, for the elections. Situations that were sufficient to be a serious lesson for the APC on its leadership mismanagement, but it seems not so.
“It is, therefore, most disgusting that in 2020, APC is toeing that same path in Edo State. If the leadership of the APC, including Mr. President, fails to intervene in this unfortunate crisis in the Edo State, I would appeal to the PDP to take advantage of the situation and adopt Obaseki as their candidate. It is a golden opportunity for the PDP to take over Edo State because Governor Obaseki has so far done well. I want to believe that he will continue the good work if given a second chance. I also appeal to the people of Edo all over the world to support him to achieve his second term bid and to PDP aspirants to also sink their interest for now in the overall interest of the state,” Clark said.
APC has destroyed NGF –Wike
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has come under attack for not living up to its expectation.
Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike expressed this yesterday, when he addressed journalists, in Port Harcourt, describing the forum as “a toothless bulldog.”
Also writing on his twitter page, he described Obaseki’s disqualification as an irony, which he claimed was masterminded by someone without a certificate.
“Obaseki was disqualified by someone who doesn’t have a certificate. What an irony!” he twitted.
Rivers governor accused the APC-led Federal Government of destroying the NGF, noting that the forum lost its strength immediately the ruling party came into power in 2015.
He expressed disappointment at even the members of the APC Governors’ Forum for not defending their colleague against the impunity demonstrated by their party to disqualify a sitting governor.
Wike emphasised that his condemnation of the disqualification of Obaseki was based on injustice against the Edo governor, and not because of party affiliation.
“There is no way a sitting governor can be disqualified in this manner. What APC has demonstrated is impunity because they have security and INEC.
“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t like to speak about Obaseki’s disqualification because APC is not my party, but because we are members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. The forum has become a toothless bulldog.
“It’s unfortunate that I belong to a forum that can only bark, but cannot bite. The forum can only bark, but cannot bite. Since 2015, APC killed the Governors’ Forum.
“APC has demonstrated impunity by disqualifying a sitting governor. This is because they have security to unleash on people of Edo State,” he said.
On Obaseki’s visit last Sunday, Governor Wike dismissed the insinuation that it was about defection moves.
He, however, added that if the Edo governor wished to join the PDP, the decision would be a boost to the opposition party.
“Of course, he (Obaseki) came to see me. There is nothing wrong about that. After all, we are all from South-South.
“If he wants to come to PDP, it would be a boost. But, Edo State PDP has a role to play. He (Obaseki) has not said that. He said he would meet (President) Buhari,” Wike stated.
Ganduje backs disqualification
Kano Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has endorsed the position of the National Executive Committee on the Edo governorship elections, insisting that the disqualification of Obaseki was driven by the quest for legality.
He said crisis was not exclusive to the APC as it was also prevalent in other political parties in the country.
“As far as this issue (disqualification) is concerned, we are more worried about legality. We have to follow the rules and regulations in conducting our affairs for the elections.
“We are conscious of legal issues pertaining to the elections. You are all aware how we won elections in Bayelsa State and due to legal issues, we lost that elections to the other party.
“We are following the Nigerian Constitution and the electoral law in trying to manage our elections issues.
“We believe the National headquarters, as far as Kano State is concerned, is doing what it takes in order to see to the success of the party in Edo State.”
He said he was optimistic that despite the current crisis, the party was poised to win the elections in Edo.
Obaseki should subject himself to PDP primaries
A PDP aspirant, Mr. Kenneth Imansuangbon, has said he would resist any attempt to hand over the party’s ticket to Governor Obaseki ahead of the party’s governorship primary elections slated for this weekend.
Imansuangbon, popularly called ‘Rice man’ said the governor was welcomed to join the party, but would have to join the queue with other aspirants and face the primary.
“Any attempt to hand the party’s ticket to him would be met with serious resistance. Infact, there will be no PDP primary or whatever if the party’s leadership tries it.
“This is not a military coup nor are are we in military rule. The governor must subject himself to the party’s primary; he will need to queue with the other aspirants if he so wished to join, but certainly not handing him the ticket automatically.
“Have you heard before that somebody will join a party and within three days he will be given the ticket? Did he buy the party’s nomination form, was he screened?” Imansuangbon queried.
Meanwhile, the state chairman of the PDP, Mr Tony Aziegbemi, has confirmed that Obaseki would join the party.
“We have been in touch in the last few days, by tomorrow, I will be able to confirm the exact date he will be joining with his team.
“But for the governor obtaining our membership card, I am not aware of that yet,” Aziegbemi said.
NGF replies Wike on beggars forum
The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has reacted to Governor Nyesom Wike’s claim that the forum under the APC leadership has become a “beggars forum, a toothless bulldog that can only bark and can’t bite.”
A statement by the NGF’s Head of Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, said Wike, being an old member of the NGF and a strong one at that, could not have referred to the body as a “beggars forum.”
The NGF said it would rather blame the Information Commissioner in Rivers State, for the misleading statement, not knowing the difference between the NGF and APC’s Governors Forum.
“The NGF has six core mandate areas and politics is not one of them. The NGF is happy to state that Governor Wike is one of its strong members and has delegated his deputy governor to the forum and she has never missed any meeting.
“The NGF appeals to all media advisers to seek to acquaint themselves with the different groups that their Chief Executives belong to in order to avoid making such misrepresentations that are entirely political and not governance related.”