By Osita Duru
As the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) meets today to hear appeals arising from its gubernatorial primary election held on August 28, there are indications that the party is treading on a dangerous ground over the forthcoming Anambra State governorship poll. This is because the party’s flagbearer, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, was not properly cleared by the PDP national leaders.
Sources said that the “provisional clearance” granted by both the screening and the appeal committees is doubtful, as there was no record of waiver for the candidate either in the National Working Committee (NWC) or in the National Executive Committee (NEC) minutes.
One of the competent sources in the PDP said that if the party does not do anything quick to address this aberration, it may affect the party on the long run.
Obaze who defected from the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) to the PDP was Secretary to the State Government (SSG) during the administration of Peter Obi in Anambra State.
The source added that fielding Obaze as the candidate of PDP will not speak well of the party, as a case of perjury which is a criminal charge, could be made by anybody against him even if he emerges victorious in the governorship election should the party insist on submitting his name to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The source said: “Mr. Obaze was not cleared as at the close of nomination. Mr. Obaze was granted ‘provisional clearance’ both by the screening committee and the appeal committee. This approval or provisional clearance is subject to the National Caretaker Committee recommendation of his waiver to NEC.
“Till date, no meeting of NWC or NEC was held where Mr. Obaze’s waiver application is reflected in the minutes. The implication of this scenario is that Mr. Obaze as at the date he filled and submitted his nomination forms was not qualified to contest the election.
“It does not matter if the caretaker committee or NEC grants him waiver today or even back date it to the day of screening as every material facts confirmed even by his own admission in various press releases did not have waiver as at when he filled and submitted his forms.
“By the way, the use of the word ‘provisional’ connotes not full, not permanent or obsolete but temporary subject to certain performance. What is this performance? When will the said performance be carried out? A cursory glance at the clearance certificate will reveal that it has only two provisions viz: Cleared/Not Cleared. Where did they manufacture Provisional Clearance?
“The danger of our party nominating a defective candidate is too grave for us to contemplate. A stitch in time saves nine! Furthermore, if indeed Mr. Obaze at the time of filling his form knew that he did not have a waiver or that his waiver was still being processed, why did he indicate that he had a waiver in the form? A case of perjury which is a criminal offence could be made by anybody against him even if he emerges victorious in the governorship election should the party insist on submitting his name to INEC,” the source said.
Documents made available showed that the party national leaders had been petitioned by Obiagulu Chukwurah, over the provisional clearance granted to Obaze, with the allegation that the candidate has not attained the statutory two years’ membership period nor secure the required waiver to make him eligible and be cleared.
According to the documents, the screening committee, which had scrutinised them, recommended that “the provisional clearance granted the aspirant should be upheld and that the process of granting waiver be hasten by National Caretaker Committee to prevent any future legal problems.”
But, Chukwurah pointed out that granting Obaze waiver, which, has not be properly documented, would cause a chain of legal battles for the party on the long run, as the development is an abuse of the party’s Constitution.
By Osita Duru