President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu were instrumental to the granting of waiver to Mallam Nuhu Ribadu by the PDP in Abuja on Friday, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.
With this, Ribadu is cleared to take part in the party’s September 6 governorship primary in Adamawa State if he and others are cleared by the screening panel on Saturday (today).
Also cleared to face the panel are Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.) and Mr. Marcus Gundiri, who also applied for the waiver.
The President and Mu’azu’s intervention was sequel to the plan by majority members of the National Working Committee of the party not to grant waiver to Ribadu, who just joined the party barely a week ago from the All Progressives Congress.
Investigations by our correspondent however showed that majority of the NWC members were favourably disposed to granting waiver to Marwa and Gundiri.
When the case was presented to the President on Wednesday and Thursday, he was said to have bought the argument that if the party’s leadership did not want waiver, there wouldn’t have been any reason to insert it in the PDP constitution.
Besides, it was also agreed at the meeting that the disqualification of Ribadu and others could send wrong signals to other people in the opposition party who might be planning to defect to the ruling party soon.
It was said that the meetings agreed that the disqualification would mean that the doors of the party had been closed against such people.
A source at the two meetings said that while the President did not direct them to grant waivers to those who applied, he was said to have tactically asked them to follow the party’s constitution in their decision.
Section 50 (9) of the PDP constitution says, “There shall be a minimum of two- year membership span for a member to be eligible to stand for election into any public office, unless the appropriate executive committee gives a waiver or rules to the contrary.”
With this, it was said to have been difficult for the NWC members who were hitherto divided on the issue, not to grant Ribadu the much-needed waiver.
A source, who was at the meeting said, “The President did not direct us to give the waiver, but he said we should follow the constitution. In that case, what do we do? We have to read the President’s body language even though he is not in any way favouring anyone.”
Apart from this, he said the President also said the NWC members should allow the most popular candidate to emerge at the primary, citing the case of Ekiti State where he said he refused to anoint any candidate to the amazement of some of those who contested the governorship primary of the party in the state.
Before granting the waiver, the members of the NWC met again in Abuja on Friday where they considered the report of a committee set up to examine the issue. The committee was headed by the National Organising Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha. The committee was set up because of the inability of the members of the NWC to agree on the waiver, an action that also stalled the planned screening of the 14 aspirants which was originally scheduled for Thursday.
Briefing journalists after the Friday meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said all the members of the NWC unanimously cleared all aspirants who expressed interest in contesting in the primary.
He said, “After very careful and thorough consideration of all applications and the report of the Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha-led Adamawa State PDP Governorship Waiver Committee, the NWC was satisfied that all the aspirants met the requirements stipulated by the PDP constitution to participate in the process.
“Consequently, waiver has been granted to General Buba Marwa, Engr. Marcus Gundiri and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to take part in the exercise.”
He said the nomination process, including screening of aspirants as well as the primary election would be conducted with utmost transparency and strict adherence to rules and the principles of justice, fairness and equity.