National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole has made it clear that there was no way the party would have bended its rules just so as to favour Governor Godwin Obaseki, who had been screened out.
Oshiomhole, who answered reporters’ questions today, June 15 at the presidential villa, Abuja said that APC is not a party of big men. “It is governed by rules. Both the small and the big are subjected to that rules. I’m sure you will agree that our President led by example when we conducted direct primary in the last presidential election. “We still went to Eagle Square for affirmation. So, If the President did not have the right of first refusal because our Constitution does not provide for it, we cannot under any circumstances now bend the rules when it comes to some people and change the rule when it comes to others. Our duty as the management board of the APC is to ensure that we obey strictly the provisions of our Constitution which empowers National Working Committee to conduct primaries for president, governors, National Assembly, and State Houses of Assembly.” He said that the standard practices in the part, of advertising the timetable, collection of forms and screening of aspirants were adopted since 2015.
Oshiomhole acknowledged that the screening for Edo gubernatorial contest against the election slated for June 22 was thoroughly done to the satisfaction of the Nation Working Committee (NWC) of the party, in line with the provisions of the party’s Constitution.
“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 impunities 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 mismanages 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.”
Oshiomhole said that he is not aware of the move by Governor Obaseki to exit APC, adding that he only hear about it in media.electronic and print, is that he visited a number of PDP governors. We read from electronic and print that his visits to a number of the PDP governors and consultations may have to do with his plan and so on. But we are not here to speculate.
“He is our governor. We are law abiding. But if PDP can conduct activities across 192 wards with the same law, I don’t think our governor will discriminate against his own party. So, we are hopeful that everything will be peaceful.”