Acting Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, was yesterday disqualified from taking part in the September 6, 2014 state primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the screening committee of the party.
14 governorship aspirants on the platform of the PDP, who were jostling for the bye-election, were yesterday screened by a committee set up by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party as the disqualification was sequel to section 191, sub-section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution.
Chairman of the screening committee, former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, made this known shortly after the exercise in Abuja.
He said the constitution does not allow anybody to transmute from the position of an acting capacity to that of a substantive governor.
Mantu added that Fintiri is not Deputy Governor, but a child of necessity. “He is supposed to act for three months and conduct election into the office of the governor, but not to transmute into the office. He has the right to appeal,” he said.
The committee, however, cleared 13 other aspirants to join the party nomination process. The committee began the screening process around 12 noon.
The exercise, which was supposed to hold on August 28, was pushed forward by two days to enable the NWC process the waiver applications of three of the aspirants. Some of the aspirants expressed satisfaction with the screening process.
According to former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who spoke to journalists after appearing before the committee, “the process went on well. I am okay with everything that took place. I pray to God for the good of the country, for the people of Adamawa. What is going on today is probably a turning point and indicates change that is coming in Nigeria and Adamawa State. My expectation is positive and fantastic. It is all about the country; it is all about the people of Adamawa, I am happy.”
Acting Governor, Ahmed Umaru Finitiri, and former Political Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, refused to speak to the press after their screening.
However, one of the hopefuls, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong, has expressed confidence in clinching the ticket.
Speaking of his chances at getting the nod of the party, Hong, who was also a former Minister of State for Tourism and secretary of the Adamawa State PDP, said he had over 95 per cent chance of being nominated as he considered himself as top rated and most qualified from the lot.
Hong sees his loyalty and commitment to the party in the state as standing him out from the lot, as he had never left the party since inception, “I have been a loyal member of the party and at no time left the party for any other party since 1999.”
Hong said his commitment and devotion to the party was unquestionable as he, as a grassroots politician, had done his best for the party and commanded a huge following, which he believed were all that was needed to win the bye-election scheduled to hold on October 11.
He added: “I have no fear whatsoever about the screening exercise holding tomorrow, as I have a clean bill of health because I have met all the requirements of the party and that of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Reminded that the field was a huge one with many heavyweights in the party, such as Buba Marwa, Nuhu Ribadu, Hamed Gulak and others, Hong said he was not bothered by the credentials of the other contestants, but rather expressed confidence in his own credential, ability and confidence of the people and the party leaders, which he enjoyed, to win him the ticket.
Hong promised to turn the face of the state around once he gets to Adamawa State Government House, insisting that he was on a rescue mission to save the soul of the state, “which has been badly battered by the maladministration of the former governor.”
Speaking on the chances of the PDP in the October bye-election, Hong posited that the party had 95 per cent chance of coming out victorious.
“The chances of PDP winning Adamawa State election in October is 95 per cent, everybody knows that the state has been that of PDP right from inception, and even with the defection of the then governor, it was an empty shell that defected, as the real people of Adamawa remained with the PDP and it is now back on track.”
Meanwhile, former Secretary of the ruling PDP in Adamawa State, Mr. P. P. Elisha, has commended the national leadership of the party for granting waiver to Nuhu Ribadu, Buba Marwa and Marcus Gundiri to participate in the party’s primaries for the upcoming bye gubernatorial election.
Elisha, who is a leading campaigner for the Ribadu candidacy, made the commendation yesterday in an interview with newsmen in Yola, saying the measure taken by the national hierarchy of the party was in order, and a welcome development that would strengthen the party.
“That’s a clear manifestation of the exemplary leadership quality of the national chairman of the party. I was not expecting anything less. This is a sign of good things to come, and we are hoping and optimistic that the nomination process will be transparent,” Elisha said.
Elisha berated members of the Adamawa State Assembly, who on Friday addressed the press, kicking against the approval of waiver for Ribadu, saying such a move by the lawmakers was unfortunate.
Elisha said the claim by the lawmakers that Ribadu did not make any contribution to PDP was baseless, noting that Ribadu’s contributions to the PDP started since the Obasanjo regime, when he was EFCC boss.
“Ribadu had never served any government other than PDP governments. He was EFCC boss under Obasanjo regime, and we all saw how he performed creditably and attracted goodwill to Nigeria,” Elisha said.
The former state secretary of PDP urged members of the Adamawa Assembly to sheath their swords over Ribadu’s aspiration, pointing out that some of them were APC members who also defected to PDP, and would require waivers if they wanted to contest in 2015.
Elisha said that, as a former secretary of the party, he was aware that many of the lawmakers defected from opposition parties, and had to be granted waivers to contest the last 2011 general elections.
“As secretary of the party during the last general elections, many of the lawmakers, including the House spokesman, Adamu Kamale, who presented the house position against Ribadu’s waiver, were granted waivers by the PDP to contest the assembly election.
“I think all this opposition against Ribadu is out of fear. He is the man to beat because of his intimidating credentials,” Elisha stated.
While urging aspirants and their supporters to dwell on issues and what they can offer instead of casting aspersions on personalities, Elisha said the Ribadu Campaign Organisation had respect for all the aspirants, and would seek their support and cooperation to work for the party’s victory in the by-election, if he emerged the party’s candidate.
He cautioned against internal bickering among aspirants and their supporters, adding that if such bickering was not properly handled now and after the primaries, the opposition could exploit it against the party.