- Join PDP To Defeat APC – Kassim Afegbua Urges Obaseki
Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will have a big decision to make on who flys the party’s flag in the September 19 Edo State Governorship election.
Naija News had reported that the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC had on Saturday affirmed the disqualification of Godwin Obaseki the Edo state governor and two others who had earlier disqualified by the screening panel.
The three aspirants disqualified by the APC were Governor Godwin Obaseki, Chris Ogiemwonyi, and Messrs Matthew Aigbuhuenze Iduoriyekemwen.
The screening committee led by Dr. Abubakar Fari, had disqualified Obaseki due to inconsistencies in the forms Obaseki submitted for scrutiny.
Fari said: “In the affidavit sworn to by Godwin Obaseki before the High Court Abuja, he stated under oath that he graduated from the University of Ibadan with a BA degree in Classical Studies in 1976. However, the university certificate he attached to his nomination form bears 1979 which is a material contradiction.’’
The committee also said it found it hard to believe Obaseki gained admission to study at the university with three credits without a proper A-levels or a diploma.
The APC panel added that the governor was in possession of two separate voter cards which is illegal. Fari added that the attestation letter of the Institute the governor claimed to have attended after secondary school, was not on the letterhead of the school.
PDP Guber Ticket
Naija News understands that several reports on Friday evening alleged that that Governor Obaseki has dumped the ruling APC after he was disqualified by the screening committee and had since joined the opposition PDP, with the hope of flying the party’s flag for the Edo 2020 election.
Although Obaseki is yet to issue a statement regarding his alleged defection to the PDP and the plan to run for a second term in office on the platform of the main opposition party in the state, the Edo governor, however, visited two PDP governors, Nyesom Wike and Udom Emmanuel, thereby fueling rumours of his move to the opposition party.
But, a move to the PDP will prove difficult for the Edo Governor as the opposition party’s nomination process closed on June 2 while screening of aspirants closed on June 5.
Three aspirants – a member of the House of Representatives (Oredo Federal Constituency), Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama (Edo South); Mr. Gideon Ikhine (Edo Central), an engineer; and a foremost Educationist, Kenneth Imasuagbon (Edo Central) – have since been cleared by the party to vie for the ticket.
Legal experts have disclosed that only those cleared within the stipulated time, are qualified to contest in the primary. “Obaseki was not screened and so cannot participate”, a renowned lawyer said.
Another lawyer advised the PDP to forget about fielding Obaseki or risk serious litigation over his eligibility and breach of its own rules.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (lNEC) only allows parties seeking to field candidates for the Edo governorship election to replace candidates not later than July 13, but with a caveat: the new candidate must have participated in the primary.
A PDP source had told The Nation, “We are in a serious dilemma and our party is facing integrity test. Obaseki is trying to have his way at all cost to secure the PDP governorship nomination ticket.
“This is a governor who has not formally defected to the PDP. The options available are to ask all the aspirants to step down for him or to allow the primary election to hold and ask the eventual candidate to step down.
“But are we going to be fair to all the aspirants, especially the winner of the primary? And Obaseki is overstretching his luck by seeking to retain Deputy Governor Phillip Shaibu as his running mate.”
Another party leader stated that meeting with PDP governors do not guarantee Obaseki the party’s ticket, adding that discrepancies in his documents must be looked into.
“But there is another allegation of having two voter cards. Can we take this huge risk as a party? Is Obaseki bringing an asset or liability to the party? Some of our leaders are already warning the party,” a party chieftain said.
It was gathered that Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, has also been busy making frantic appeals to some PDP governors to allow him to be the party’s running mate.
PDP To Take Decision On Obaseki’s defection Soon
Speaking to Naija News on Monday morning, the former Edo State Secretary of the PDP, Chief Felix Imoisili, revealed that discussions with Obaseki on defecting to the main opposition party are ongoing, adding that a pronouncement would be made in the next few hours.
On giving Obaseki the party’s ticket, Chief Imoisili stated that whoever emerges the winner of the PDP Primaries would fly the party’s flag in the September 19 governorship election.
The former PDP secretary disclosed that since it was the party that submits candidate name to INEC, the PDP can decide to substitute any candidate name with that of Obaeki.
He, however, insisted that it is an internal affair of the party on how it chooses to select its candidate.
On Obaseki’s qualifications, Imoisili said: “Which qualification did he use to contest as governor four years ago?
“So how come that four years after, people who don’t want him re-elected are now saying he is no longer qualified.
“The issues on his qualification are already in court. Let the court make a pronouncement on whether the certificate he submitted is genuine or not.”
He added that only a court can come up with the final decision on a person being qualified to contest an election, adding that the APC panel report was only the opinion of the screening committee.
‘Giving Obaseki PDP Ticket a Political Ambush’
A chieftain of PDP and a former Information Commissioner in Edo State, Kassim Afegbua, disclosed that the idea of having Governor Obaseki in PDP is already causing some ripples within the party because it will amount to political ambush.
He said: “First, the purchase of nomination forms has closed. We have three viable aspirants running. I am supporting Hon. Ogbeide-Ihama for the primaries and hopefully he will emerge as the candidate.
“If a candidate emerges on Saturday, are you expecting the candidate to step down for someone who did not participate in the process, simply because he is a Governor? That will not only be an ambush, but an unfair reading of the situation.
“The governor is free to join the party. It is his constitutional right, but joining is one, becoming a candidate is another. He should join to support whoever emerges as the candidate, to face the APC candidate.
“Rather than be the candidate, which appears difficult at this injury hour, he should join hands with other party loyalists to ensure the APC is defeated. That would be like some kind of soft landing for him.
“Again, the Party has to understudy the report of the APC screening committee especially the obvious discrepancies in his submissions. You cannot have two certificates from one university bearing inconsistent dates with all manner of contradicting submissions.
“Beyond politics, the APC might have derived inspiration from the Bayelsa scenario, which the PDP must take notice of, so that we do not fall into another cul-de-sac.
“Please tell Obaseki to drop his ambition, and join hands with whoever emerges on Saturday in PDP primary to give a good fight to the APC.”