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*Govs tighten grip on delegates, ahead of APC, and PDP presidential primaries

*APC mulls adoption of security reports on aspirants, might shelve screening

*Disqualifies 4 out of 1,197 House of Reps aspirants

*APC decides on zoning after screening presidential aspirants — Adamu

By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor & Omeiza Ajayi, LAGOS

Fresh details of the reasons former governor of Anambra State, and presidential aspirant, Mr Peter Obi, resigned from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and quit seeking the party’s 2023 presidential ticket emerged yesterday.

Some governors elected on the platform of the party practically pushed him out of the PDP, after a high-wire game of intrigues, and conspiracy, Vanguard gathered last night.

Obi, who was the vice-presidential candidate of the party in 2019, during which his South-East zone contributed more votes to the PDP than the North-East, the zone of the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was left with nothing after the power game, it was learned.

In 2019, with Obi on the ballot as running mate to Atiku, the PDP garnered 1,693,485 votes (75 per cent) from the five states of the South-East; and 1,255,357 votes (27.5 per cent) from the North-East.

Conversely, the APC polled 403,968 votes (19 per cent) in the South-East and 3,238,783 votes (67.5 per cent) in the North-East.

A top player in the power game in the PDP told Vanguard that “Obi was hoping to emerge as the running mate to Atiku again since the PDP, from all indications, is not ready to cede the presidency to the South-East.

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“However, most of the PDP governors said they will back Atiku if he makes one of them his running mate. This led to a highwire conspiracy against Obi in the PDP. So he had to look elsewhere to pursue his aspirations.”

Indeed, in his resignation letter to the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, the former Anambra State governor said he was quitting the PDP because the party had made it impossible for him to continue to contribute to nation-building on its platform.

Obi wrote: “I am writing to intimate you of my resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party, which was conveyed to the Chairman of Agulu Ward 2. Anaocha LGA, Anambra, effective Friday 20 May 2022. Consequently, I am by this letter informing you of my withdrawal from the PDP Presidential Primaries.

“It has been a great honour to contribute to nation-building efforts through our party. Unfortunately, recent developments within our party make it practically impossible to continue participating and making such constructive contributions

“Our national challenges are deep-seated and require that we each make profound sacrifices towards rescuing our country. My commitment to rescuing Nigeria remains firm, even if the route differs.”

Govs tighten grip on delegates, ahead of APC, and PDP presidential primaries

Apart from the PDP, governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, have also firmed up their control of the lever of power in their various states and are set to determine the outcome of the presidential primaries of both parties.

The outcomes of the governorship primaries of the APC and PDP across the states where the governors picked re-election tickets or got their anointed candidates to win, indicate the strength of the governors.

Last week, Vanguard reported that governors’ vowed to deliver the candidates at all levels, including the presidency.

In the APC, Vanguard gathered that the governors are also part of the reasons for delaying the screening of presidential aspirants.

“President Muhammadu Buhari was supposed to meet the governors this morning (yesterday) to show his hand on his preferred successor and thereafter meet the presidential aspirants before travelling out of the country. However, he could not meet with the aspirants because he did not meet with the governors. They have not ironed out grey areas in the modified consensus they want to adopt.

The president has to settle with APC governors before the screening of presidential aspirants. Former President Goodluck Jonathan is on the cards but settling for his running mate is a major problem. A major issue in the party now is how to settle the power blocs,” a source told Vanguard.

APC may shelve screening, mulls adoption of security reports on aspirants

Indeed, two days before its presidential convention, indications have emerged that the APC might shelve its screening of presidential aspirants and instead rely on security reports on the aspirants.

It was not immediately clear if security reports on all the aspirants were positive or if the party would use any negative report to shut out some of the aspirants through back-channel negotiations.

The presidential primary is slated for Sunday and Monday next week.

Vanguard had earlier reported that the Department of State Service, DSS had days ago begun profiling and vetting political aspirants to enable the service to fish out criminal elements who should not be entrusted with sensitive offices and positions in the country and guide relevant agencies, parties and institutions appropriately.

“What we are doing is an examination of existing records already before us to determine what has changed and what has not and to be able to determine the extent of the inconsistency in each profile to advise those involved accordingly in the interest of the country,” a security official had explained.

APC had more than four times readjusted its timetable and even postponed indefinitely its screening of presidential aspirants.

While it promised to announce a new date in due course, the party had since kept mum on the issue.

4 out of 1,197 House of Reps aspirants disqualified

Meanwhile, the APC has disqualified four of the 1,197 aspirants for the House of Representatives.

Of the 1,197 aspirants, there were petitions against 65. After going through the petitions, the party’s relevant committee disqualified four.

The appeal panel upheld the disqualification of Mr Sunday Oche from Benue State and three others, from participating in the party’s primaries scheduled for Friday (today).

This was contained in the report of the three-man appeal panel, dated May 20, 2022, and submitted to the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, through the office of the National Organizing Secretary.

According to the 19-page report signed by its chairman, Chief Chinedu Okonkwo, secretary, Barr. Kate Nnamani and its member, Hon. Robinson Uwak, the affected aspirants were disqualified in line with the party’s guidelines and extant laws.

Mr Oche who seeks to represent Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue State was disqualified due to a pending criminal case against him before a magistrate’s court in Bwari, Abuja, bordering on forgery, perjury and conspiracy.

“Having gone through the petition and given the weighty allegations therein and exhibits attached, this Committee made frantic efforts to reach out to the respondent (Mr Oche Sunday Oche) through numerous phone calls to make himself available before the Committee to clarify the veracity of the said allegations, to no avail”, the report read in part.

The Committee also said it was able to establish that a criminal trial of Mr Oche was ongoing at the Magistrate’s Court, Bwari with suit number CR/23/2022 and seriously frowned at the refusal of the aspirant to disclose it while filing his nomination forms.

The Committee, therefore, resolved “that Mr Oche Sunday Oche’s failure to disclose the pending criminal trial against him while filing his nomination form is a fraudulent act and a total failure of an integrity test expected of any leader seeking to lead the party at any level. Worse still, it is an unpardonable breach of the party’s guidelines and instructions which is capable of negatively affecting the party’s victory in the forthcoming election.

“That the ongoing criminal trial against Mr Oche Sunday Oche is one capable of securing him a 14-year imprisonment if found guilty and the party cannot be seen to be taking such a costly risk”.

On his part, Dr Pascal Obi Chigozie, who seeks to represent Ideato North/South Federal Constituency of Imo State, was disqualified on grounds of anti-party activities.

The Committee said the petitions from the party’s National Vice Chairman (South East), Dr Ijeomah Arodiogbu and two other members of APC alluded to the fact that the aspirant had earlier presented himself before the screening committee of the People’s Democratic Party PDP on April 29, 2022.

Another aspirant, Hon. Archibong Bassey Joseph from Cross River State was said to have been disqualified after carefully attending to the petition from his brother, Elder Joseph Bassey, alluding that he is the valid owner of the WAEC certificate submitted by the aspirant and that he did not have his express permission to use it. Hon. Effiong Robinson Edumoh from Akwa Ibom, on the other hand, was disqualified by the appeal panel due to a “discrepancy in the identity of the aspirant.”

Edumoh was said to have filled ‘Edumoh, Robinson Effiong’ in the expression of interest and nomination forms, whereas, the name appearing on his voter’s card reads ‘Abianga, Robinson Effiong.’

APC’ll decide on zoning after screening presidential aspirants — Adamu

Speaking on the controversies trailing zoning and screening of presidential aspirants, the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu said no zoning agreement has been reached for the presidential ticket, adding that the party will take a stand on the matter after screening the contenders.

“We have not produced our candidate for the presidency yet, we have to screen the aspirants to know the way forward. We have aspirants from across the country in the presidential race. We will make the decision when we get there.”

Adamu said it is the right of party members to run for any elective position in the party.

“You can’t stop our party stalwarts from contesting elections or aspiring for the presidency. It is their right, and we are happy for them. There is nothing wrong for anybody aspiring for the exalted seat of the president, it is God that decides who gets what,” he said.

“We have 28 aspirants for the presidential ticket, and everybody knows that all of them cannot get the ticket. If it’s God’s wish, they all can even be president of the country one after the other. Our goal is to ensure justice in the choice of who emerges as the candidate of the party.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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