There was air of uncertainty and confusion in Edo State on Wednesday over the screening of incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki by the committee set up by the National Working Committee, NWC, to screen the six aspirants jostling for the governorship ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of the party’s primary scheduled for June 22, 2020. While information filtering into Benin City, the state capital earlier in the day suggested that the governor had disappeared from the screening venue on the excuse that he was going to get additional documents demanded by the committee, the special adviser to the governor on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie at 7.05 pm raised the alarm that the committee failed to screen his principal.
The committee which has as chairman, Professor Jonathan Ayuba, and Prof. Agbo Madaki, Ibrahim Zailani, Senator Aishatu Ahmed, Dr. Jane- Frances Agbu, Fort Dike as members while Dr. Rabe Nasir, was named secretary. But Osagie in a statement said the governor had arrived at the National Secretariat of the party early for screening but the committee was not ready. According to him, “The governor arrived early but the screening committee was not ready. He was given the options to either wait for one hour or if he had an appointment to keep, he could go and call them to know if they were ready.
“The governor, who had a Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) meeting, went for the meeting and called when he was done, but the members of the screening committee did not pick their phones.”
Contrary to Osagie’s claim however, Obaseki was to turn up for screening at around 8.10 pm. Sources close to the committee hinted Tell that “he was given a right of first refusal by the committee; that is they decided to take him first. But as soon as he appeared, he said he should be excused because he had an urgent Zoom meeting to participate in and they said to him, okay. As a sitting governor, they felt he deserved to be taken first and he came in to say he had a zoom teleconference to participate in and that after the teleconference he would be back. He is still being expected up till now; they’ve not seen him”. This was around 6.34 pm.
There had been issues surrounding the authenticity of the governor’s certificate which the authorities of the University of Ibadan has laid to rest by confirming that he actually graduated from the university. But the puzzle which the governor’s adversaries insisted needed to be resolved is how he was able to gain admission into the premier university with such an abysmally poor result.
According to the source, “The university authority didn’t write the committee. I’m sure they will ask him that question about the controversy surrounding his degree certificate. But I expect him to now present to the committee the letter from the university. If he now presents that letter officially to the committee, the committee will now have the basis to ask the university how he was able to enter. That is if they choose to. How? With three credits and there is no evidence that you had a supplementary result”.
The committee is expected to submit its report on Thursday when the aspirants will know their fate.