*Dogara says no PDP aspirant will be unjustly disqualified in Ondo
By Chuks Okocha
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Friday claimed that it had uncovered plots by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to use Governors Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Hope Uzodinma of Imo state and Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to derail the September 19 Edo State governorship election.
This is coming as the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who is the chairman of the Ondo state PDP governorship screening committee, said that none of the aspirants for the July 22 governorship primary would be disqualified injustly.
The PDP in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, alleged that the party and indeed the people of Edo state were already aware that the three governors were selected by the APC to lead its campaign so as to force a combined formula of Kano and Kogi electoral violence as well as Imo state mandate robbery to subvert the will of the people of Edo state in the governorship election.
The PDP described as pathetic that the APC had a person who had become a butt of international shame after being seen in a viral video allegedly stuffing his robe with gratification, in foreign currency, to serve as chairman of its Edo state governorship campaign council.
He said, “It is equally contemptuous that such a person is being deputized by another individual, who has become a metaphor of electoral manipulation, after being so docketed by a judgment of the Supreme Court.
“It is also disgusting that a governor who deployed a Police helicopter to scare voters on election day has been mandated to deploy thugs and dangerous weapons through the northern borderlines of Edo State ahead of the election.
“Part of APC’s plot is to import election mercenaries as observers to attempt to scare the people of Edo state, suppress them and steal their mandate”.
He went further to state that it was however not surprising that such was the drift of the APC campaign, given that it had neither messages nor plans for the people of Edo state, especially, with a candidate like Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who it alleged had also been declared by former APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, as a person of questionable character.
According to the PDP, “whereas our candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, enjoys the overwhelming support of the Edo people due to his enthusing track record of personal character and performance in office for which even APC leaders have praises for him, the APC candidate has nothing to present to the people.
“With its defective nomination process, an ailing campaign council and a dented governorship candidate, it is clear that the APC is not preparing for issue-based and people oriented campaign, but for process manipulation and ballot robbery.
“Our party, in the strongest terms, cautions the APC to note that the “Gandollar,” “Supreme Court Governor” and “helicopter shooting” formulas cannot work in this election as the people of Edo state have never been intimidated, suppressed, subjugated or overpowered by external political influences”, he said.
PDP said that the APC should also note that the people of Edo state will spare nothing within the law in firmly resisting any attempt by anybody to import violence or try to manipulate the Edo election in any way.
The main opposition party said that with the people of Edo state on the side of Governor Obaseki and the PDP, the coast was already clear and any attempt by anybody to subvert the will of the people will surely be met very stiff resistance.
Meanwhile, the PDP Screening Committee for Ondo State governorship election has assured the party aspirants that none of them would be unjustly disqualified.
The Chairman of the Committee and immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, gave the assurance while speaking with newsmen shortly after screening the aspirants in Abuja.
Dogara assured the aspirants that the committee was out for justice; and justice would be served.
“Justice is indivisible. What is justice for one has to be justice to the other.
“We are sure that at the end of the day the party will be proud of the exercise that we have done. Nobody will be unjustifiably denied clearance for any reason. For any one who is qualified.
“As a matter of fact, it is not even our responsibility to clear them, it is the documents they have presented before us that will clear them.
” As far as we are concern, once you have your papers and records intact, you are good to go. So, the assurance is that we are out for justice and we will ensure that justice is served to the end,” he said.
Dogara said though the committee had screened all the aspirants, it would adjourn till Friday 1 p.m. before taking its final position on the exercise.
He said that the committee recognised the responsibility bestowed on it and would do a thorough job.
“This is in view of that fact that developments in politics no longer support the case of whimsical screening exercise any longer.
“You have seen it, some people have won elections and lost elections on the account of defective screening that was done by the officials of their party.
“So, we are aware of that and we are holding each of the aspirants to account for the information given to the party and the documents that they have submitted,” he said.
Dogara commended members of the committee for their patience throughout the exercise that lasted for about 12 hours.
When asked to comment on the large number of aspirants for the poll, he said no political party in a true democracy would restrain its interested members from participating in an election.
“Even if they are 50 aspirants let them come, it is their constitutional rights. The party cannot prevent that. Nobody can regulate the provisions of the constitution.
“In as much as they are members of the party and they want to run for this office, no one has the power to circumscribe the provisions of the constitution regarding their rights to vye for any office, except if they are defective in terms of requirements of the law or the party.
“But, as long as they are qualified, no one can guard their rights to contest for any office. No political party should do that,” he said.
The aspirants included the Deputy Governor of the state, Dr Agboola Ajayi; Eyitayo Jegede; Senator Boluwaji Kunlere ; Dr Eddy Olafeso; Ben Okunomo; Bode Ayorinde; Otunba Bamidele Akingboye; Mr Godday Erewa; and Mr Sola Ebiseeni.