Fireworks ahead of the June 22 governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, continued yesterday, with the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki crying that he may not get justice from the Screening Committee Also, yesterday, party stalwarts were bickering over the University of Ibadan statement that Governor Godwin Obaseki graduated from the school, as well the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, statement that party would use direct primary to produce its flag-bearer. This came as Edo local government chairmen threw their weight behind Obaseki’s re-election bid, just as the APC screening committee received six petitions against the governor. Four of the six aspirants were screened first. Obaseki and Matthew Iduoriyekemwen were screened later. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has warned politicians in Edo and Ondo states against disrupting the elections, saying the commission would not make returns in such a situation. Professor Yakubu gave the warning at a virtual roundtable on Democracy and Elections in West Africa, organized by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies CSIS, Washington DC in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, Nigeria. Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr. Philip Shaibu carpeted the INEC for stating that the APC had adopted direct primary to pick its candidate. In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Ben Atu, the deputy governor said national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole did not consult the leadership of Edo APC before communicating INEC on mode of primary to select APC’s governorship candidate. He said: “The APC national chairman is now acting like a judge presiding over his own case. Oshiomhole can’t be fair because he is an interested party in the Edo State Governorship election. INEC is making mistakes by allowing the national chairman to decide without consulting with the state chapter. Oshiomhole can’t be talking about a direct primary when he doesn’t have the register of party members. Oshiomhole must have given a fake voters register to INEC because those who have the authentic party registration diary at the State level were not consulted. “Only few members of the National Working Committee, NWC, that are loyal to Oshiomhole were present when the decision on Edo State governorship election was taken.” I won’t get justice, Obaseki cries out after screening Governor Obaseki came out of the screening room around 10pm, and expressed misgivings at the operations of the committee, saying with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole dictating affairs of the party, he knows he cannot get justice. He said: “The last time I came here, I asked that Oshiomhole recuse himself from the process in the interest of peace and justice. But as a party man, I have had to go through the screening like everybody else. Since he is the judge and the jury in this matter, I will just wait for the outcome of the screening. I have given them all the information they need; the controversial certificate from the University of Ibadan has been tendered. “Like I said, as a party man I have gone through the screening process but I do not believe that I will get justice because Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is an interested party in the Edo process. One of the questions that was asked was that why did I issue a gazette that will prevent the party from performing direct elections in Edo. That did I not see it as an anti-party activity? I just felt that if we put politics above the the lives of the people of Edo State, we may be missing the point”. Obaseki had stormed the national secretariat with his supporters at about 1pm, but no sooner had he entered the secretariat than he rushed back into his car and left the premises. At about 7:59pm, Gov. Obaseki however returned to the national secretariat of the APC to be screened to participate in the June 22 Governorship Primary Election of the party. He was accompanied by his associates including Sen. Domingo Obende. Minutes before he returned to the Secretariat, the governor had raised an alarm about alleged attempts by the committee not to screen him. At about 9:15pm, when Mr Iduoriyekemwe arrived the party secretariat for screening. C’ttee screens aspirants, gets 6 petitions against Obaseki The APC screened its six aspirants, with four of them going through in the first batch. The screening of Governor Obaseki and another aspirant, Mathew Iduoriyekemwen was delayed but later concluded last night. The development came as Vanguard gathered that the screening committee received six petitions against the governor, and one against Mr Iduoriyekemwen. At press time, Vanguard could not independently ascertain whether the decision of the committee to delay the screening of the duo had any connection with the petitions against them. Multiple party sources, who confirmed the number of petitions against the duo declined to reveal the identities of the petitioners or the content of the petitions. Addressing journalists before going into the closed door screening, Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Jonathan Ayuba, who explained that the responsibility of the committee was to verify the documents submitted by the aspirants, added that his team is not a quasi-judicial body and therefore could not pass any judgment. He said: “We took this challenge not because it is easy. It is complex and we are putting our integrity at stake. We are not a judicial committee and we are not investigating. Ours is to verify and verification of whatever is submitted to us is based on evidence and also facts. So, that is what we are going to be dealing with. Obaseki graduated from our university, says UI The management of the University of Ibadan, UI, has confirmed that Obaseki graduated from the institution. Olubunmi Faluyi, Registrar of the university, disclosed that the governor attended and graduated from the institution in a statement, yesterday. “Mr Obaseki, the Governor of Edo State graduated from the University of Ibadan, where he studied Classics,” the statement read. “Obaseki gained admission to the University in 1976 and graduated in 1979 with a Second Class Honours, Lower Division. Records of his admission and graduation are intact in the archives of the university.” President of UI Alumni Association Worldwide, Professor Elsie Adewoye, spoke in like manner and wondered why a controversy over Obaseki attending UI should arise in the first place. Disclosing that Obaseki had SI:19512 as matriculation number, Adewoye stated that records of Obaseki’s admission and graduation were intact in the university’s archives, stressing that ‘’this formed the basis of his unanimous selection by the Alumni Association to deliver the 2018 Alumni Lecture held on 3rd of August, 2018.” A suit was filed against Obaseki over allegation of certificate forgery. The governor dismissed the suit. On Tuesday, Oshiomhole asked the party’s screening committee to investigate the allegation. “Someone should approach the UI and end this matter once and for all. If the certificate Obaseki parades is that of the UI, find out how did he pass senate screening of those days? I’m aware that in those days when this man never dreamt of becoming a governor, every student, no matter your status or your family name, must pass the screening. “It is done every third term at the UNN (University of Nigeria Nsukka), then we ran terminal, not semester programme. The final screening was in the third year, before you go in for your final year. “How come the UI allowed him then? Did he do a remedial, which was not unlikely? These are questions. Many came in, especially in education and linguistics, did remedial for one year and if the result was good, gained direct entry and graduated three years after,” he said. UI dodged questions on Obaseki’s credentials – Oshioke Meanwhile, a chieftain of the party, Victor Oshioke, said the statement from the University of Ibadan did not answer the questions raised by those querying the academic credentials of Obaseki. He said: “As far as I know, nobody has said that Obaseki is not an alumnus of UI. What I have heard echoed by a lot of people recently, is that the O/Level grades of Obaseki in the public domain does not qualify him to be admitted into the University of Ibadan for a degree course. “Also, some commentators have argued that the documents he attached to his expression of interest form in 2016 are different from those he attached to his 2020 form. It has also been argued that his UI degree certificate is different from the certificates of other UI alumni who graduated at the same time as the governor. The fundamental issue here is not whether Obaseki attended the University of Ibadan or not, but about discrepancies in the information submitted at different times by Godwin Obaseki about his academic history and credentials. You can recall the Bayelsa catastrophe that all Edo APC members are trying to avoid was essentially about discrepancies in the names ascribed to the deputy governorship candidate at different times. “So I think it is Obaseki that has a lot of reconciliation to do about his true academic history. The clarification made by the management of the University of Ibadan does not, in my opinion, clear the various shades of doubt that has been raised recently by numerous concerned Nigerians about Godwin Obaseki’s academic credentials”
Similarly, a University don, Prof. Idemudia Oviosun challenged Obaseki to offer clarifications on the alleged inconsistencies. Idemudia said: “I have studied copies of the said certificates making the rounds on the internet and whether or not Obaseki graduated from the University of Ibadan. Answers must be provided on why the governor has different and conflicting copies of his certificate from the institution, why he swore an affidavit saying he graduated in 1976 when his certificate read 1979, and how he managed to sit for five subjects at the Advanced Level when independent checks have shown that students were only allowed to sit for four subjects. “Forging documents and lying under oath are separate issues from graduation and we hereby call on the investigatory bodies in the country to double their efforts in getting to the root of the matter to avoid an unfortunate situation where a man who conjured documents is not only allowed to get away with it but rewarded with a leadership position.” UI clearance shames Obaseki’s traducers — Ojezua However, factional chairman of EDO APC loyal to Obaseki, Anselm Ojezua, said that clearance by the authorities of the University of Ibadan has shamed all those who have been witch-hunting Governor Obaseki that he never graduated from the University. Ojezua told Vanguard in Benin yesterday while reacting to Obaseki’s clearance by UI: “This is not a case of Toronto or Chicago. UI is not a university that you just walk into and graduate. It just takes about three hours from Benin to go the university and verify if you are in doubt or visit the internet.” According to him, the clearance from UI has strengthened the integrity of Governor Obaseki. On the decision of INEC to use direct mode of primary to conduct APC governorship primary in Edo, Ojezua asked if INEC is a member of APC. “It is not,” he said. Also speaking, Samson Osagie, a supporter of the APC national chairman, said: “INEC is simply following the law according to the provisions of the Electoral Act. The party decided to communicate the mode of the primary to INEC and INEC has to follow the law.” However, former Political Adviser to Adams Oshiomhole, Chief Charles Idahosa, has said it is wrong for some politicians to say that Obaseki is being ungrateful to Oshiomhole for making him governor in 2016. According to him, Oshiomhole first emerged as governor through Obaseki’s support. He said Obaseki mobilized millions of naira for Oshiomhole ahead of the 2007 governorsip election, adding that it was Chief Elama that facilitated Oshiomhole’s meeting with Obaseki before Oshiomhole became governor of Edo State. Edo’s 18 LG chairmen back Obaseki Canvassing support for the second term ambition of Governor Obaseki, local government chairmen in Edo State said he has provided a clear focus on where the state should be and how the state can get there. Specifically, they praised Obaseki for growing the state’s economy, attracting investments and touching the lives of the people of the state. At a press conference in Fugar, yesterday, Chairman, Etsako Central Local Government Area, Mr John Akhigbe, said local government chairmen and other stakeholders in Edo APC are set to make Obaseki governorship candidate of the APC. He cited competence, achievements and humility as their principal reasons for endorsing the governor for a second term in office just as he dismissed the purported endorsement of Pastor Ize-Iyamu. Akhigbe said, those behind the endorsement of Ize-Iyamu are not members of the APC. “They claimed to be members of APC because they defected from PDP to APC in Ize-Iyamu’s house. They are also calling themselves ward chairmen and chieftains of the ruling party. Ize-Iyamu is not a member of the All Progressives Congress. Some people went to Ize-Iyamu’s house to defect to APC.” Endorsing direct primary, they said: “Why is Oshiomhole afraid of indirect primary? If those endorsing Ize-Iyamu are executive members of the APC, let us test our strength in the open field through indirect primary. In Nigeria and other parts of the world, elections are conducted and won at the field.” However, former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Thomas Okosun, said the endorsement of the chairmen is immaterial because ”endorsement is not victory. Anybody is free to endorse anyone. Are they members of the APC?” Edo, Ondo: We won’t declare results if you disrupt polls, INEC warns Meanwhile, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has warned politicians in Edo and Ondo states against disrupting the elections, saying the commission would not make returns in such a situation. Professor Yakubu gave the warning at a virtual roundtable on Democracy and Elections in West Africa, organized by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies CSIS, Washington DC in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, Nigeria. While the election in Edo would hold on September 19, that of Ondo would hold on October 20, but the INEC boss said if the processes were disrupted, no returns would be made. “Where the election is disrupted and the Commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration. You (political parties, politicians and voters) either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says. “While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them. “Yesterday, I had a meeting with the National Security Adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. But what pro-active measure is the Commission going to take to ensure that if there is a replay of what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi, we will protect the integrity of the process?”, he queried. On the challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic to the Commission, Yakubu said; “Our electoral and democratic process cannot be suspended on account of the COVID19 pandemic”.