Romanus Ugwu, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Ndubuisi Orji, Godwin Tsa, Abuja, and Tony Osauzo, Benin
Governor Godwin Obaseki has formally announced his resignation from the All Progressives Congress (APC), which he claimed was sparked by his refusal to subvert the will of the people for the interest of a “predatory group of godfathers and political thugs.”
Speaking with State House correspondents in Abuja after meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, at the Presidential Villa, yesterday, Obaseki confirmed that he would pursue his ambition for a second term on another platform.
Asked what his chances would be vying for office on another platform, he replied: “I’m sure if you’ve scanned the environment, you’ve scanned the media, you’ve scanned social media, the reaction from people across the world, particularly Edo, at home and in the Diaspora, for me, has been unbelievable. They’ve said to me, ‘wherever you go, we go’.”
On June 14, the governor had said he would disclose his next step after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, following his disqualification from the June 22 governorhip primary, over what chairman of the APC screening committee, Jonathan Ayuba, described as a “defective” certificate.
His deputy, Philip Shaibu, has also resigned from the APC, through a resignation letter addressed to the ward chairman, APC Ward 11, Etsako West Local Government.
On why he chose the State House to announce his resignation, the governor said: “I’ve said that before I make a decision, I have to show respect to my president, who I adore, who, for me, is an epitome of incorruptibility, epitome of order, an epitome of lawfulness. I think I owe him that respect to come and tell him what I have done and why I decided to take the decision I took.”
He, however, refused to disclose what President Muhammadu Buhari’s reaction was about his decision to quit the ruling party, saying: “You’ll get that from Mr. President.”
Obaseki had on Monday, June 1, visited the Villa to present his form seeking re-election and told journalists that President Buhari “assured me of his support.”
“You remember, in my last tweet, I said I’ll make a decision after my disqualification was announced by APC, that I’ll make a decision after I’ve consulted with the leadership and my supporters in Edo State and also having informed the President.
“I’m here today to inform you that I have now decided, formally, to resign my membership of the All Progressives Congress. Having done that, I will now announce in the next few days my specific line of action and what platform I will be contesting the gubernatorial election on.”
“I’m sure the whole country knows and is aware of what has gone on with me and the party chairman in party leadership, which culminated in my disqualification as a gubernatorial aspirant and upon that unfortunate decision by the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, I’ve decided to go and seek my gubernatorial aspiration on another platform.”
On his reaction to APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole’s remarks that incumbency was not a factor for him, Obaseki said: “Time will tell. Let us go to the polls and Nigerians will see.”
He also denied there were inconsistencies in his credentials as alleged by the APC screening panel.
“Someone who hasn’t gone to school, who doesn’t have certificate himself, will not know and understand what inconsistencies in certificates are, that’s the starting point. What is the inconsistency? There’s no inconsistency in my certificates. The issue was in 2016, when I contested for gubernatorial election, I could not find the originals of my certificates because I hadn’t required them for more than two decades. So I deposed to an affidavit that I couldn’t find the originals. Subsequently, I found the original copies of all my certificates and they are with me. So I don’t understand what’s inconsistent about that.
“Maybe the inconsistency in the Youths Corps certificate where he said my surname was missing an ‘i’ at the end, but if you look at that it was like a cursive, it was written in a cursive manner. So if that’s inconsistency for him, then it’s really sad that people of that quality are leading Nigeria’s ruling party.
“For him, it was just to look for an excuse to take whatever decision he wants to take and it’s really sad that the party structure today gives him that sort of authority without checks; that is dangerous for any system or any institution. When you give authority and responsibility to people who don’t have character, people who do not have finesse, a sense of justice, then that institution is imperilled.”
He explained why he visited with governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the weekend.
“First, these are my brother governors who are from my subregion, some of them have gone through similar experience I’m going through. It’s only proper that when you have challenges of this nature you’ll go and talk to people who have gone through similar experience for advice. That’s basically what I went to do with them.”
PDP delays screening result
In anticipation of Obaseki’s purported defection to its fold, the main opposition party’s national secretariat has withheld the result of the screening of its governorship aspirants for the Edo State election.
The PDP had on June 5 screened three aspirants, who obtained it’s expression of interest and nomination forms for the Edo gubernatorial primary, scheduled for June 19 and 20.
The aspirants include member of the House of Representatives, representing Oredo Federal Constituency, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Gideon Ikhine and Kenneth Imasuagbon.
However, 11 days after the screening was concluded and two days to the primary election, PDP is yet to formally announce the outcome of the screening exercise as is usually the practice.
Daily Sun reliably gathered that this was because the PDP national leadership was awaiting the formal defection of Obaseki.
A source at the PDP national secretariat told Daily Sun that all grey areas in the negotiations between the governor and the party leadership have been resolved, noting that Obaseki would formally declare for the opposition party any moment from now.
Consequently, the source told our correspondent, that barring any last-minute change of plans, the PDP National Working Committee ( NWC) would meet today to consider a waiver to enable him participate in the party’s primary.
However, when contacted, the PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said he was not aware of any NWC meeting scheduled to discuss issues relating to the Edo State governorship primary and acclaimed move of Obaseki into the party.
On why the PDP was yet to make public the outcome of the screening of governorship aspirants, he replied: “Our party is a party of processes and procedures. And I can assure that whatever procedures or processes of our party that is expected of us to meet, we will surely meet them. Whatever procedure and processes that is required of our party in respect of any electoral process will be carried out.”
APC’ll go to court if – Oshiomhole
Meahwhile, Oshiomhole has threatened to go to court if the PDP fields Obaseki.
Oshiomhole, who described the governor’s resignation from the APC as “good radiance to bad rubbish,” said the party would take Obaseki to court over the alleged discrepancies in academic qualifications.
“Fortunate enough, it was the PDP that exposed him in 2016. PDP filed a case at the Federal High Court amplifying every forgery segments in his certificate. APC just managed to escape that because PDP filed out of time and the case was struck out.
“Now, the case has life, so, when they field him, we will be at the court to adopt what PDP filed before the court against him with additional evidence we now have against him. So, we can’t wait to have PDP field him as their candidate. So far, we are good, we will soon separate the boys from the men. He has had a good day abusing, saying half truths against me, that’s fine.”
According to the APC national chairman, “Obaseki has that democratic right to leave or join any party of his choice. It is his right to leave APC, there is no compulsory membership of a party. A political party is a voluntary association. If you want to stay, you stay, if you want to leave, you leave. He has exercised that democratic right. However, from my point of view, it is a good radiance to bad rubbish.”
He explained that the issue of the governor’s disqualification from contesting under the APC was about his certificate.
“When you forged a certificate like you saw in the case of Bayelsa State, where we won an election, and on account of irregularities on the certificate of our candidate, we lost out at the Supreme Court level. Only a foolish political party will not, with due attention meticulously, screen those who want to contest election on the platform of the party.”
18 LG chairmen reaffirm support for re-election bid
Chairmen of 18 local government areas (LGAs) in Edo State have reaffirmed their support for the re-election bid of Governor Obaseki, noting that they were fully committed to the progressive ideals of the governor and his battle against godfatherism, thuggery and impunity in the state.
In a statement by the chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Edo State, Jenkins Osunde, and 17 other council chairmen, the association described the disqualification as “a theatre of political fraud.”
The council chairmen said, on closely reviewing the activities of the screening committee, it was infallible to posit that the decision to disqualify the governor constituted a profound affront to decent internal democratic practices of a respectable political party.
The chairmen said: “The result of the screening exercise was incontestably aimed at diluting the mass-base electoral support for the incumbent governor by engendering the perception that His Excellency had doubts to clear about his profile.”
The LGA chairmen stated that, rather than weaken Obaseki’s overwhelming popular support, the dubious disqualification by the committee has caused a buoyant and enthusiastic response of support for the governor across all senatorial zones of the state.
‘PDP, Wike destroyed Governors’ Forum not APC’
Deputy national publicity secretary, APC, Yekini Nabena, has said, contrary to the claim by the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, that the ruling party has destroyed the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), it was the PDP and Wike that destroyed the NGF.
The APC deputy spokesperson challenged the Rivers governor to inform Nigerians on the major role he played when the PDP government introduced that “16 is greater than 19” political formula.
Nabena, in a brief chat with newsmen, yesterday in Abuja said Wike was referring to the past when impunity was the order of the day, and he needs to wake up to the reality of a new era of justice, fairness and true democracy under the APC.
Governor Wike, on Monday, in Port Harcourt, described the NGF as “a toothless bulldog,” accusing the APC-led Federal Government of destroying the NGF and alleging that the forum lost its strength immediately the ruling party came into power in 2015.