Crisis is brewing in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over alleged moves by the party’s national leadership to grant waiver and governorship ticket to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state ahead of the September 19, 2020 election in the state.
Governor Obaseki was disqualified by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday from contesting the party’s primary poll.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan confirmed on Sunday that Obaseki was set to jump ship to the PDP.
“The PDP is in talks with Obaseki and he is in talks with the PDP. Contacts are on between the PDP and Obaseki.
“But the PDP is a party of processes. So whatever the processes required, the party will abide by it. Our doors are open to all Nigerians.
We will not stop Nigerians from joining us, as far as they can abide by our rules,” he said.
Similarly, a top source at the PDP National Secretariat, said that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has been saddled with the responsibility of leading other PDP governors and stalwarts in bringing Obaseki into the party’s fold.
He said the Edo governor will join PDP before the June 27, 2020 deadline issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for submission of names of candidates by political parties.
He added that while the PDP Constitution stipulates that a new member of the party must last for three months before qualifying to contest any election, the National Executive Committee (NEC), which is the second-highest decision making organ of the party has the authority to grant waiver to such a member.
“The PDP NEC can meet and grant waiver to any new member to contest an election. And that is what the party plans to do in case of Obaseki. And that will be done before the deadline for the submission of names of candidates by political parties,” he said.
He said that the National Working Committee (NWC) would soon call for an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting to grant a waiver to Obaseki to contest the party’s ticket. No date has been fixed for the meeting.
But credible sources in the party, however, confided in our correspondent that the development is tearing the PDP apart as some of the aspirants who have already obtained their expression of interest and nomination forms at the PDP National Secretariat are grumbling.
One of the aspirants yesterday said he won’t step down for Obaseki in the event he joined the PDP and is being considered for the ticket.
“This will cause a serious crisis because personally, I’m not ready to step down for anyone. I’m in the race to win the election and make life better for the people of Edo state. I obtained the forms for N21 million and it’s not a joke,” he said.
Obaseki yesterday visited governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state at the Government House , Port Harcourt, where they met behind close doors.
The meeting, it was gathered was to perfect Obaseki’s defection to PDP.
Meanwhile, governors who are members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) were silent on the disqualification of their colleague, Governor Obaseki.
The governors at the end of an emergency teleconference meeting on Saturday, unanimously reaffirmed their commitment to work for the unity of the APC.
In a terse statement by their Chairman/ Kebbi Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the governors were silent on Obaseki and his disqualification.
The governors, however resolved to, “collectively to work to ensure strengthening of a 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.”
Similarly, members of the faction of Obaseki in Edo APC held a meeting where they all agreed that the governor should seek another platform to run for the governorship election.
Speaking on the outcome of the meeting in a telephone interview, the chairman of the faction, Aslem Ojezua, said, “we all supported and agreed that he should move to another platform to realise his ambition.”
However, the faction of the APC in Edo State loyal to the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, has recommended the expulsion of Obaseki to the National Working Committee (NWC) from the party.
Addressing journalists, the acting chairman of the faction, David Imuse, said he was recommended for expulsion for violating article 21, sub-section D5 of the APC Constitution.