The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress APC has set up a committee to screen its six governorship aspirants in Edo state, declaring that without prejudice to the work of the committee and that of the Screening Appeals Panel, the National Working Committee NWC has the final say with regards to the fate of the aspirants.
According to the party, the screening and appeals committees which consist of academics, lawyers and politicians would help to forestall a repeat of the Bayelsa experience where it lost its mandate due to alleged discrepancies in the certificates of the party’s deputy governorship candidate.
Inaugurating both committees on Tuesday at the party’s National secretariat in Abuja, its National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole said while the screening committee would act as the High Court, the appeals committee as the appellate court, the NWC would act as the Supreme Court.
He said; “the NWC can reject the screening result. Screening committee is High Court, Appeal Committee, Appeal Court and the NWC, the Supreme Court.”
Oshiomhole again expressed misgivings at the Supreme Court judgment which disqualified the APC deputy governorship candidate for Bayelsa after having been sworn in as a Senator of the federal republic.
According to him, the Bayelsa experience was partly responsible for the decision of the party hierarchy to display the credentials of all the aspirants at the national Secretariat so that people can file in their claims and objections to assist the committees.
“After intensive consultations, we decided to have people who in our own judgment are sound and when they go through this process, their recommendations will be very helpful. Under our rules, we are expected to set up a screening committee before every election.
“The responsibility of the screening committee is to interact with all those who have aspirations to contest, strictly speaking, not yet aspirants. You become an aspirant after the screening committee has passed you.
If anybody is dissatisfied with the screening committee’s recommendation, he/she will file an appeal and it will be forwarded to the Appeals Committee and after that, they will make a final recommendation to the National Working Committee NWC that has the final decision as to who is eligible or who is not eligible.
“In the past, we have always performed this role but may be we did not give it the appropriate weight. Maybe we had assumed that people who want to aspire to certain offices particularly high elective offices of executive governor, we expected that no one would submit documents containing information that may possibly lead to disqualification. In the past, this was more of a formality but with what happened to us in Bayelsa state earlier this year, we decided to approach the issue of screening much more seriously than ever before.
“I want to encourage you to take this exercise very seriously. I am sure you can only imagine how we felt as a party when after we had won an election, there were no questions, in fact it was the best election ever conducted in Bayelsa State. No violence, people voted but we lost it because the deputy governor according to the Supreme Court had contradictions in his documents and so we lost it.
“So, the screening is not a formality and we expect you to be very meticulous in every material particular to protect our party so that let it not be said that we did not learn anything from Bayelsa. As you know sometimes when things go wrong, everybody sees it that NWC did not do a thorough job. So people personalise it saying, if the chairman was thorough, if he had done his job this will not happen but that is the price of leadership.