By Efa Sunday
The Peoples’ Democratic Party through it’s National Working Committee has ordered the withdrawal of the clearance certificate issued to one of it’s gubernatorial aspirant in Cross River state and pioneer National Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Emmanuel Ibeshi
The withdrawal order was made through a memo issued on Friday and signed by the party’s National Organizing Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (Rtd.).
Stating the reason for the withdrawal, the memo read in part: “This is important because the Special Screening Committee was constituted to screen only aspirants who have not been cleared by the state screening committee
“Consequently upon that, the aspirants mentioned are kindly instructed to return the provisional clearance certificate back to the Directorate of Organization/Mobilization immediately.”
Earlier this week, Ibeshi was screened and cleared by the special Screening Committee in Abuja on the 27th and 28th of September, 2018, which the party through the Organizing Secretary has come out to say “was done in error.”
Meanwhile, in a brief meeting organized with journalists in Calabar today, Ibeshi protested the withdrawal of his certificate and described the action of his party as mischievous.
He said “the withdrawal of my clearance to contest the PDP gubernatorial primaries is a mischievous affront on democracy.”
He also reiterated that though no reason was communicated to him for the sudden change of decision, the party does not have the right to disqualify him, having fulfilled both the Constitutional and electoral provisions.
“Let me state here that I am qualified to run for the office of the governor of Cross River State by the criteria contained in the Constitution of Nigeria, the stipulations of the electoral Act as amended and by the Constitution and guidelines of the PDP.
“There is no valid ground for my disqualification, and I have been provided no such ground. Indeed there has been no attempt by the party to justify or even explain its action in cancelling my certificate earlier issued to me to contest elections.
“I was never informed of any allegation against me that may justify the withdrawal of the clearance earlier issued to me.” He said.
Hon. Ibeshi further mentioned that he was screened alongside other PDP governorship aspirants from the South South geopolitical zone, in Port Harcourt and according to him, the screening committee was given a devious mandate to disqualify all aspirants contesting for the gubernatorial ticket for Cross River State, thus leaving only the incumbent, Senator Ben Ayade, as the only aspirant for the party ticket in the state, an instruction which the committee carried to the later, he alleged.
Ibeshi further explained that his disqualification was challenged before the PDP screening Appeal Committee sitting in Abuja,for which they found no justification for his disqualification and was thereafter cleared and duly issued with a certificate to that effect.
“I am ready to contest my disqualification and seek such remedies as are available to me under the law of this country. A political party cannot sell forms to me to contest for party ticket, collect huge amount of money on campaigns for delegates, and at the eleventh hour turn around without reason, to withdraw the clearance certificate earlier issued me, and disqualify me from the contest, having induced me into such expenditure of energy, time and money, the party cannot renege at will, and to my detriment.” Ibeshi said
Hon. Ibeshi averred that the recent development is an obvious display of fear of being defeated in the primaries by Governor Ayade.
In his concluding remarks, he said: “fundamental to democracy is the right of the people to freely choose their leaders. Where a political party, like PDP, refuses the people the opportunity to choose, the mandate to govern then becomes a captive mandate, and this is not democracy.
“Actions like this signify impunity and absence of internal democracy within the PDP.”
In a telephone interview granted CrossRiverWatch, one of Ibeshi’s campaign leader, Mr. Cletus Agbo, expressed his shock over the development.
Agbo said the news is “an abuse of democracy.”
He also mentioned the numerous consultations his principal has been doing to get the mandate of he people.
” I am stunned, and we don’t know what is happening. This is not politics, it is an abuse on the people. We had started consulting Cross Riverians to seek their mandate to give us their votes.”
Mr. Agbo also accused the incumbent governor, Senator Ben Ayade, of barring the Ibeshi campaign team from meeting with PDP delegates, state and chapter leaders to engage them on the need for Ayade to be ousted.
In his words: “Unfortunately, the state governor and his allies barred us from accessing PDP delegates both the state and chapter chairmen, on the need to remove him from that seat as the governor of the state.
“In one of our trips to a local government area, the delegates told us that they had received instructions from the State Party Chairman not to receive any of Ibeshi’s campaign teams.” Agbo said.
The incumbent governor, Senator Ben Ayade and Hon. Emmanuel Ibeshi, a former member of the House of Representatives, hail from the same local government, Obudu.
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