Gubernatorial aspirants have protested against the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over its last minute disqualification to contest the primary in Cross River State, southern Nigeria.
One of the aspirants, Paul Udayi, was screened out and with barely twenty-four hours to the PDP gubernatorial primary while the second aspirant and pioneer national publicity secretary of the party, Emmanuel Ibeshi, was also disqualified.
Ibeshi, who was earlier issued a clearance certificate described the action of the PDP as a ‘mischievous affront to democracy.’
According to Ibeshi: “My attention was drawn to a publication of the PDP national headquarters announcing that the clearance earlier issued to me has been withdrawn. No reason was given and the intent is that I stand disqualified to contest the gubernatorial primary of the party”
“Let me state that I am qualified to run for the office of governor of Cross River State by the criteria contained in the constitution of Nigeria; by the stipulations of the Electoral Act as amended, and by the constitution and guidelines of the PDP,” Ibeshi stated.
He noted: “We understand that Governor Ben Ayade (the incumbent governor) was particularly irked that he was the only governor in the south-south zone facing opposition in the primary for the party ticket. The zonal screening committee, obedient to this devious instructions, disqualified all aspirants for the gubernatorial ticket from Cross River except Governor Ben Ayade.”
The former national publicity secretary of the party described the timing and action of the party as shocking and would seek redress.
Condemning the actions of the party, the aspirant said“I am ready to contest my disqualification and seek such remedies as are available to me under the law of this country”.
Ibeshi added: “It is also my contention that once I have been cleared and issued a certificate, it will amount to a breach of my right to fair hearing for the certificates to be withdrawn without first confronting me with the reason and affording me an opportunity to respond or defend myself.
“The main issue behind all this drama is that Governor Ben Ayade, having run an extremely incompetent government, is afraid of defeat if the people are given a chance to freely choose between him and me.”
In similar developments, all government appointees, who resigned to contest for elective offices in Cross River State, were also disqualified.
The reason given was that Governor Ben Ayade refused to accept their resignation even though several took additional steps, such as announcing their resignation from office on various media outlets in the state.