The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has explained that allowing the Adamawa State acting governor, Ahmadu Umar Fintiri, to contest its primary next week, ahead of the state’s governorship by-election in 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 and former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji 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 House of Assembly can govern a state in acting capacity where a vacancy exist in which both the governor and his deputy have vacated office.
The section states: “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”.
Mr. Fintiri, who is Speaker, became the acting governor after the state assembly impeached former Governor Murtala Nyako and his Deputy, Bala Ngillari, resigned.
According to Mr. Mantu, 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, adding that “Section 191 (2) does not permit anyone to transit from acting to substantial governor, he is not a deputy governor”.
He continued: “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”.
The appeal committee is expected to review the screening today.
Those cleared to participate at the primary election slated for Saturday, 6 September in Yola, the Adamawa State capital are 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 others.