…To strengthen party mechanism for candidates’ selection
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: Governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC on Saturday night met via teleconference and agreed to work towards strengthening internal party mechanisms for the selection of candidates in the Edo and Ondo Governorship Primaries.
Although a terse statement issued by the governors under the aegis of Progressive Governors Forum PGF was silent on the fate of Gov. Godwin Obaseki who was disqualified at the weekend from participating in the June 22 primary election of the party in Edo state, a source who was privy to the outcome of the meeting said there are ongoing engagements to resolve all issues in the Edo and Ondo state chapters of the party.
The source said: “I know there are several engagements still ongoing to resolve some of the controversial steps taken by the APC NWC. We might likely see a reversal of some of these decisions because the feeling is that NWC does not have the powers to do some of the things they did regarding Edo. So, the governors are still engaging with all concerned stakeholders”.
However, the governors in their resolution reached after an emergency teleconference meeting late Saturday, pledges to work towards the unity of the party
In a vague Communiqué signed by Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum PGF and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the governors expressed confidence that the party would resolve its current challenges and emerge stronger.
According to the Communiqué, the participants “unanimously reaffirmed the commitment of all Progressive Governors to work for the unity of our party;
“Collectively agreed to work to ensure strengthening fair and democratic internal party mechanism for the selection of party candidates in all elections, especially in respect of Edo and Ondo States 2020 Governorship elections.
“Forum members are confident that the party will resolve all current
challenges and emerge stronger”.
The governors’ position nonetheless, the national leadership of the party said it has already taken a final position on the matter.
The National Working Committee NWC of the party had on Saturday night sealed the fate of Gov. Godwin Obaseki by approving the decisions of the Screening Committee as well as the Appeal Committee which had earlier disqualified him from the race.
National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole made the announcement on Saturday night shortly after a meeting of the NWC.
The party also approved the expulsion of a governorship aspirant, Hon. Mathew Iduoriyekemwen and the deputy state chairman of the party in Edo, Kenneth Asakomeh.
The party’s Appeal Committee had moments before Oshiomhole’s announcement submitted its own report to the NWC, explaining that it received complaints from only one of the aspirants.
In its report, the committee upheld Friday’s decision of the party’s Screening Committee which disqualified Mr Obaseki from the race.
“It is inconceivable that the same University will award two certificates with separate dates for the same graduate. We also find it difficult to vouch for the authenticity of his NYSC certificate, there is no indication as to where he served”, the committee held.
Led by Prof. Abubakar Fari, other members of the appeal committee were Prof. Sadeeque Abba, Barr. Gbenga Olubajo, Mohammed Idris, Esther Bepeh and Barr. Daniel Bwala who served as Secretary.
Presenting the report, Fari said, “We looked at the grounds on which he was disqualified and I would like to say his disqualification was based on solid grounds.”
“We found the Screening Committee findings on the other two as justified. In respect of Mathew, the appeal committee in the course of reviewing the report of the Screening Committee observed that it failed to make a finding and draw a conclusion of his prejudicial finding of filing a legal action against the National Chairman and the party itself. We reached the conclusion that such conduct runs contrary to Article 21 (D) 5 of the party’s 2014 Constitution as amended. Having failed to exhaust internal mechanisms for seeking redress in the party prior to instituting the action and pursuant to the same provision. As a result of that, we upheld the decision of the Screening Committee that he should be disqualified and he is so disqualified by the appeal Committee.”
“The other candidate whose case we reviewed was that of Governor Godwin Obaseki. This committee finds that although the screening committee disqualified Obaseki on the evidence of the documents he presented, however, the committee did not take into account their contradictions in the various petitions submitted to the committee against Godwin Obaseki.
“We take the liberty to highlight these discrepancies. 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 Prof. Jonathan Ayuba-led Screening Committee had earlier on Friday disqualified Mr Obaseki, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi and Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen.
Presenting the report of the committee to the National Working Committee NWC of the party in Abuja, Prof. Ayuba cited discrepancies in the names and certificates of the governor. For Ogiemwonyi, the committee also cited discrepancies in his names while it disqualified Iduoriyekemwen on the grounds that he instituted a suit against the party without exhausting all mechanisms of settlement in line with the APC Constitution.
The governor had immediately disclosed his resolve not to appeal the decision of the screening committee. In spite of that, the appeal committee said evidence before it made it to uphold the decision of the screening panel.
Addressing journalists, Oshiomhole said the NWC reviewed the reports of the screening and appeal committees, adding that the decision of both committees were unanimous as none of the members had a dissenting opinion.
Oshiomhole specifically faulted the governor for his wilful refusal to inaugurate 14 members-elect of the State House of Assembly.
The party chairman had at the inauguration of the committees described them as the High Court and Appeal Court respectively, stating that the NWC as the Supreme Court has the final say on the reports of both committees.
Meanwhile, a Governorship aspirant of the party in Ondo state, Olayide Adelami has condemned what he described as “a spurious claim by the purported chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Owo, Sydney Ogunleye”, that he is not a registered member of the party.
Both Adelami and the incumbent hail from Owo Local Government Area.
The Adelami Lamilaka Campaign Organization in a statement by Barr. Segun Ogodo described the allegation as “great balderdash” adding that Chief Adelami is a financial and card-carrying member of the APC.
He said; “We duly acknowledge the place of party structures right from the ward to the national level and are of the belief that they should be used to promote cohesion rather than bringing members down and unnecessarily overheating the polity.
“While we would have loved to get to the field before we disprove the claims of Mr Ogunleye and his paymasters that Chief Adelami is not known in the APC, we will advise him to be less economical with the truth on our principal’s membership status.
“Mr Ogunleye also knows that Chief Adelami as Coordinator of the Presidential Support Committee for the Buhari/Osibajo 2019 project worked with party structures and leaders within the Party.
“While we would have expected Mr Ogunleye to have provided a level playing field for all aspirants, especially from Owo, the present sing-song brings many questions to the mind.
“It is unfortunate that Mr Ogunleye who on different occasions told ward chairmen in Owo local government to warmly welcome all aspirants, especially Chief Adelami who he sees as the next governor of the state, would be willing to be a tool in the hands of desperate and drowning politicians for personal benefits and enhancement”.
The campaign organization charged the star governor, Rotimi Akeredolu to rein in his supporters, accusing them of sponsoring violence in Owo town.
“The unprovoked attacks on Chief Adelami’s supporters and campaign vehicles in different parts of Owo local government are well documented and have been reported to security agencies.
“We reiterate that we are not unaware of the streaks of falsehoods and evil machination they have lined up against us in the days ahead, but ours is a campaign based on people-driven issues, devoid of violence and rumour mongering and falsehood. We will not be distracted even in the face of intimidation. Our focus is to rescue our dear sunshine state from the Present personalized government of the Father, the Wife and the Children in Ondo State.
“We shall never stoop so low to the level of physical attacks or sponsoring lies against any aspirant as our principal is a decent and honest man who sees every other aspirant as members of the same APC family”, Ogodo added.