The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Monday, insisted it would stand by the outcome of the recently-concluded screening of contestants for the governorship primaries, which edged out the sitting governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki.
Naija News reports that the APC NWC made this decision after meeting Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, where it noted that was done and dusted with the screening of contestants for the governorship primaries in Edo State.
It was learned that the APC NWC meeting with Gambari focused the crisis in the Edo State chapter of the party, which raised concerns that APC might be defeated should the incumbent governor move to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s main opposition party.
Addressing State House Correspondents after the meeting, APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, nothing of such would happen as incumbency factor or defection was not a guarantee that the governor would win a second term.
The APC Chairman who defended the outcome of the screening said due process and the provisions of the party’s constitution were strictly followed.
Oshiomhole said, “We have these three gentlemen on parade to contest the primaries, which has been slated for the 22nd of June, in line with the provisions of our constitution, we will do direct primaries. It’s more democratic, less susceptible to corrupt practices and it makes the party to be membership driven.
“It is always for me something interesting that after you have picked your candidate by a handful of elites, you will now organise a rally to introduce to the members who is going to contest an election. They are supposed to bring the members to us and we can only achieve that through direct primaries.
“So we are doing everything possible, having completed the issue of screening and we have upheld the result of the screening committee, we are proceeding now to conduct the primaries, God willing, on the 22nd of June in Edo state.
“One person appealed his disqualification and he had ample opportunity to approach the Appeal Committee and even with the benefit of coming with his lawyer because this time, because of what happened in Bayelsa, we have decided that we have to be very strict. There are always two issues that lead to disqualification after elections, as you saw in Bayelsa, we won the election, but for technical reasons, we lost it at the Supreme Court.
“We have decided we should look at the composition of the committee, we have very senior lawyers, professors of law, we have various professors who should be familiar with the issues of certificate, because those are always the booby traps; whether there are impunity or contradictions or forged documents.
“Then we have lawyers who have handled election tribunal, they know the issues that people can raise, once you have filed your nomination because the courts have said INEC cannot screen candidates, the power to screen candidates, it’s exclusively part of the party. So, if the party mismanaged the process and they produce someone who has a fake certificate or multiple age or issues of spelling, those lawyers know what can lead to disqualification.
“So, we have confidence in the report they gave us, but in line with our democratic practice and as stated in our Constitution, they also had an opportunity to make an appeal and that opportunity was provided. One of them took advantage of it, unfortunately he wasn’t successful. The appeal panel still reaffirmed the findings of the lower party.
“We are getting ready for the primary on the 22nd and we pray that God will preside over the exercise, it will be free fair and transparent and we’ll have a candidate that can unify the party in state.”
The former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress gave little thoughts to the possibility of Obaseki winning the up-coming governorship poll, as he promptly dismissed it.
He explained why, saying, “All those who defected with (Senator Bukola) Saraki, they all lost. Those who did not defect -Bauchi, Adamawa, sitting governors, lost. Even Governor Kayode Fayemi, as a sitting governor, was defeated by (Ayodele) Fayose. So, there is no evidence that being a sitting governor guarantees you victory. It all depends on the local sentiments in the state.
“I think we need to get away from this fixation. Whether in America, Britain or in Nigeria, there are plethora of cases where sitting governors lost, sitting senators lost, sitting reps lost.
“There is no guarantee that if you field somebody because he has incumbency you will win. Incumbency also has its liability, depending on the sentiments of the people of the state,” Oshiomhole said.
Meanwhile, the meeting between Buhari’s Chief of Staff was attended by the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, the National Vice-Chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir; National Treasurer, Adamu Panda; National Welfare Officer, Ibrahim Masari; and National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu.