The gubernatorial ambition of Asue Ighodalo, the aspirant apparently anointed by Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, as his successor, may have run into a headwind following revelations that a southern governor, a current minister and a South-South national officer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have allegedly moved against him.
The screening of aspirants under the main opposition party took place at the national secretariat in Abuja on Monday against the backdrop of agitation by nine other aspirants seeking to block Ighodalo.
It was gathered that the governor, minister and the national office who had previously led the onslaught against the Dr. Iyorchia Ayu-led National Working Committee (NWC) on the one hand and the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar on the other, have vowed not to allow Obaseki to handpick his successor.
The two-term Edo governor was on the side of Ayu/Atiku during the 2023 party crisis.
A petition, attributed to the camp of the trio, has now emerged, pressing for the disqualification of Ighodalo on the grounds that he has not achieved the mandatory period of stay in the party for a member to be eligible to contest election.
The opponents argued that only the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party can grant him waiver in lieu of the minimum 24 months stay as prescribed by the party’s constitution.
However, they pointed out that he has not been granted as the NEC has not met in nearly two years.
But News Direct made some checks which revealed that the NEC has since donated its power to the NWC that enables it to act on such matters on its behalf when necessary.
The petition against Ighodalo dated January 26, 2024 and addressed to the Chairman, Edo State Gubernatorial election 2024 screening committee and Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, kicked against any attempt to grant waiver to Ighodalo
Part of it stated: “It has come to our notice that the planned waiver directly contravenes the party’s constitution as amended in section 9, paragraph 3, of page 68, which unequivocally states that ‘There shall be a minimum of two years membership span for a member to be eligible to stand for election into any public office.’
“It is evident that the anointed candidate of the governor (Asue Ighodalo) does not meet this requirement as stipulated in the party’s constitution.
“We believe that adhering to the provisions of the party’s constitution is paramount to upholding the principles of fairness and equality within our political processes.
“Granting a waiver that overlooks this vital membership requirement not only undermines the integrity of the democratic process but also goes against the fundamental tenets of our party’s constitution.
“With this in mind, we respectfully urge the screening committee to consider this petition and to refrain from making any erroneous decisions that could potentially jeopardize the party’s chances of retaining the state.
“It is crucial that the screening committee upholds the rule of law as outlined in the party’s constitution, thereby ensuring that the Edo people are presented with a viable and befitting leadership capable of addressing the social, economic, and infrastructural challenges that they currently face.”
The petition was signed by Musa Aliyu (Owan East), Osadolor Ogie (Oredo), Victor Ikponwonsa (Egor), Ebosele Odion (Esan Central and Suleiman Braimoh (Etasko West).
It was also learnt that nine of the aspirants met on Sunday night without extending an invitation to Asue, resolving to support anyone among them who clinches the ticket with the exception of the incumbent deputy governor, Phillip Shaibu who is from Edo North.
“They told Phillip Shaibu point blank that they cannot support him because it is the turn of Edo Central to produce the state governor,” an aspirant who attended the meeting volunteered.
The chairman of the screening committee has, however assured that all the aspirants will have a level-playing ground.
Speaking before the commencement of the exercise on Monday, Governor Mutfwang reminded the aspirants that only one would emerge as the candidate, stressing the need for others to work with the eventual flag bearer for the sake of the unity of the PDP.
He said: “I want to assure you that we will give all the support we can to ensure that PDP retains Edo State. Ultimately, only one person will emerge. If we believe that it is God that gives power, then it is not today, nor is it on the election day that God is going to determine who will govern. He has already determined. But we as humans don’t yet know. That is why these processes are ongoing.”
“We appreciate the concerns that you have expressed. Putting in place a level playing field, we are going to be strong advocates of that. And ensure that at the end of the day, we have a process that is transparent, a process that is fair. I am a beneficiary of that process, that when all is said and done, we will still work together as one big family.”
At the end of the screening exercise, Phillip Shaibu, who spoke on behalf of the aspirants, said it was peaceful and went well.
“As you all can see right here, we are grateful to the NWC for their prompt action regarding the fake 3-Ad-hoc delegate venue. On behalf of my co-aspirants here for screening today, we say thank you to the NWC,” he said.
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the PDP has denied that it has released the list of venues for Edo State PDP 3 Ad-Hoc Delegate Congress as claimed in a publication.
A statement issued on Monday by Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary, said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP is a Party of Due Process and will publish the authentic and official list of venue for the PDP 3 Ad-Hoc Delegate Congress through the appropriate channel of communication of the party.
“The NWC therefore calls on all members of our party in Edo State and the general public to discountenance the said publication.”.…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>