The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has explained that allowing the Adamawa State acting governor, Umaru Fintiri, to contest its primary next week, ahead of the state’s governorship poll October, would contravene the Constitution.
The party announced Mr. Fintiri’s disqualification Saturday, saying the decision was taken on “moral grounds”.
Speaking later to reporters, the chairman of the PDP screening committee, Ibrahim Mantu, said Mr. Fintiri’s aspiration would be a violation of Section 191 (2) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
The section explains the circumstance under which the Speaker of a State Assembly can act as a state governor where a vacancy exist in which both the governor and his deputy have vacated office.
“Where any vacancy occurs in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (1) of this section during a period when the office of Deputy Governor of the State is also vacant, the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the State shall hold the office of Governor of the State for a period of not more than three months, during which there shall be an election of a new Governor of the State who shall hold office for the unexpired term of office of the last holder of the office,” the Constitution says.
Mr. Fintiri, a former Speaker, became the acting governor after the state assembly impeached former Governor Murtala Nyako and his Deputy, Bala Ngillari.
Saturday’s screening started 12pm and ended about 8:30pm.
Mr. Mantu said Mr. Fintiri’s role as acting governor is to ensure a smooth transition and a free and fair poll.
He said the duty of the acting governor “is to play the role of a midwife and not the one carrying the pregnancy”.
“Of all the contestants only one aspirant was found short of the requirement to contest the poll and his name is Ahmadu Umar Fintiri,” he said. “Section 191 (2) does not permit anyone to transit from acting to substantial governor, he is not a deputy governor.”
He added that: “Fintiri is not qualified because he is not like a deputy governor, but a child of circumstances. He is like a midwife and not seen as the one carrying the baby. His role should be somebody who should ensure a free and fair election. But he can appeal,” Mr. Mantu said”.
The appeal committee is expected to review the screening on Sunday.
Those cleared to participate at the primary election slated for Saturday 6 September in Yola include former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu; former Military administrator of Lagos and Borno states, Buba Marwa; and Former Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, Ahmed Modibbo.
Others are, former political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak; former Presidential aide, Umar Ardo; former acting governor, James Barka; Andrawus Sawa, and former Senator Abubakar Girei.
Also cleared are former Minister of External Affairs, Idi Hong; Awwal Tukur, Markus Gundiri, Jerry Kumdisi and Aliyu Kama.
The committee screened the aspirants to ascertain their commitment and loyalty to the party, verify their membership card and party dues, as well as tax clearance among other things.
Speaking to newsmen after his screening, Mr. Ribadu expressed satisfaction with the process, and said he was confident the party leadership would ensure transparent primaries for all aspirants.
Also speaking, another aspirant, Ahmed Modibo, said the screening process was excellent and straightforward, adding that the rest was left for the committee to decide.
On his part, Mr. Ardo said that he was not satisfied with the waivers granted to Messrs. Ribadu, Marwa and Gundiri by the leadership of the party.
He said the waivers did not follow due process because it did not emanate from the ward to the national level.
He however said that he would abide by the decision of the party adding that he would also accept the result of the primaries if it followed due process.
Former Minister, Mr. Hong said “I am satisfied with the screening; the committee is doing its work. I am a candidate, and I am not stepping down.”
Andrawus Sawa, a 71-year-old aspirant and a retired Colonel, said he was in the race to ensure sanity in Adamawa State and to have a say in the happenings of the state.
Earlier, a visibly angry Mr. Fintiri declined to speak to reporters and hurriedly stormed out of the party secretariat.
Acting Governor Fintiri has faced mounting criticisms over his decision to contest the election to replace Mr. Nyako, whose removal he spearheaded.
Other candidates for the poll have accused him of staging a “coup” and lacking the moral right to contest.
On Saturday, loyalists of the ousted governor vowed to present evidence showing Mr. Fintiri had decamped to the APC.