Documents made public by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have shown that Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, was dishonest about a certificate issue that contributed to his exit from the All Progressives’ Congress (APC).
The 63-year-old announced his resignation from the party on June 16, 2020, and joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) days later.
His APC exit was largely triggered by the decision of the party’s screening committee to disqualify him from contesting in its primary election which would have given him the ticket to contest for a second term in office.
When Jonathan Ayuba presented the committee’s report to the party’s now-disbanded National Working Committee (NWC) on June 12, he said Obaseki was not cleared because of inconsistencies in his higher school certificate and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.
He said the seven-member committee observed that the governor’s NYSC certificate bears the name ‘Obasek’ without the final letter ‘i’.
“While this may be an error on the part of the issuing authority, we observed that the aspirant has not taken any step whatsoever to have the anomaly corrected by the issuing authority,” the committee chairperson said.
Despite the committee’s claim, the disqualification decision was believed to have been influenced by Adams Oshiomhole, Obaseki’s predecessor and political ally turned adversary, who was the APC national chairman until last month.
“If you look at that (the allegedly missing letter), it was like a cursive. It was written in a cursive manner,” he told journalists moments after he announced his resignation from the APC immediately after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
Documents made public have now revealed that the APC committee was correct and the governor made moves to rectify the error after he left the party.
On Thursday, July 2, INEC published the particulars of all 14 candidates who will contest in the Edo election both online and at its Edo State office for members of the public to scrutinise.
Among the documents displayed for the Edo governor were two that proved that his claims on the state of his certificate were only done as a performance for the public.
The first document, which carried an NYSC letterhead, was a letter signed by Mrs Okonofua K. N. on behalf of the NYSC’s director general.
The letter, titled ‘Re: Correction of name and re-issuance of my certificate for national service’, acknowledged that Obaseki wrote the NYSC on June 18 to request issuance of a new certificate with his correct name.
The letter clearly acknowledged that Obaseki’s NYSC certificate was indeed missing the final letter ‘i’ as observed by the APC committee and denied by the governor.
The document read, “I am directed to inform you that after investigation, the management of the National Youth Service Corps has approved that a new Certificate of National Service reflecting the Surname OBASEKI be produced as the earlier Certificate number 063107 dated 6th August, 1980 has been cancelled due to error in surname i.e OBASEK.”
The NYSC promptly issued a new certificate to the governor the same day the letter was addressed to him.
It’s the new certificate that the governor submitted to INEC, and very likely presented to the PDP’s screening committee that cleared him.
The new certificate is dated June 19, 2020 the same day Obaseki received his PDP membership card to cheers from his supporters.
Pulse contacted the governor to comment on the new development, but an email directly addressed to him, and a follow-up text message sent to his phone number were not replied, as of the time of this report.
Obaseki went on to win the PDP’s ticket in a primary election that was only a formality because other aspirants stepped down for him.
He will now contest the September 19 election against 13 other candidates gunning for his seat.
His main opponent is expected to be Osagie Ize-Iyamu who won the APC’s ticket after Obaseki’s exit.
Obaseki beat Ize-Iyamu in the same election in 2016 when the governor was with the APC, and Ize-Iyamu was with the PDP.
35-year-old Obhafuoso Paul of the Action Alliance (AA) is the youngest candidate on the ballot for the September contest, while Agol Ebun Tracy of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) is the only female candidate.
Other candidates who will also battle for residence in the Edo Government House include Akhigbe Benjamin Ehiabi of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Ibio Lucky Emmanuel of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Lucky Osagie Idehen of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Igbineweka Osamuede of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), and Amos Osalumese Areloegbe of the Action Peoples Party (APP).
Also listed are Osifo Uhun-Ekpenma Isaiah of the Labour Party (LP), Stevie Nash Ozono of the Nigeria People’s Party (NRS), Felix Ikezoe Obayangbon of the SDP, Jones Osagiobare of Young Progressive Party (YPP), and Akhalamhe Amiemenoghena of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).