By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Two governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, Hon. Mashood Mustapha and Mallam Saliu Mustapha have petitioned the Screening Committee of the party over their alleged disqualification in the primary that was conducted in the state on Saturday.
The duo protested that there was no official communication as to why they were disallowed to participate while the election was already in progress, saying it was a shocker to hear through radio announcement of their purported disqualification from the primary.
Both the aspirants addressed Journalists in Ilorin on Saturday night and asked the party leadership to cancel the primary and reschedule it for another day.
This is coming in spite of the directive from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to all political parties in the 2019 general elections to conclude primaries for selection of candidates latest 12 midnight of Sunday (today).
One of the aspirants, Mashood Mustapha alleged that some leaders of the party were behind their purported disqualification from the shadow election and noted that the development had caused psychological damage to his supporters, who had queued at designated polling units across the 193 wards in the state to vote for him.
It is recalled that the APC had opted for direct primaries in Kwara State to choose its candidates for elections at all levels including governorship.
The screening committee headed by a former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Chief Iyiola Oladokun, said the party settled for the direct mode in line with the requests of aspirants in the shadow election.
However, Mustapha, a former member of the House of Representatives, told Journalists that some leaders of the party contacted on the development denied knowledge of his disqualification from the ongoing exercise, saying the masterminds took the action because he was coasting to victory in the primary.
He insisted that there was never a time when he was informed that he was not cleared to participate in the shadow election and urged the party leadership to act fast.
Mashood Mustapha said: “Some people are looking at themselves as if they possess some power that is above other members. We are all equal members and we know the people behind this. Nobody can stop Mashood Mustapha from aspiring to any office that he feels he can serve the good people of Kwara State.
“We did everything to control this damage but we realised that the damage was irredeemable. As at the time our own story went on air, we realised that most of our supporters had got the wind of the information and they have all left their various voting centres dejectedly.
“But because we are law abiding citizens, myself and my colleagues, we told our supporters, don’t go to where we have panel members, don’t go on protest, don’t take law into your hands. If a person like me can painstakingly go through this process for more than one year to actualise my dream, I think I should be able to tell the leadership to do the needful.
“One of the steps we think and we feel that should be taken is by putting up a petition to the panel chairman, which we just did. He has acknowledged receipt of our petition and our prayer is that since our members have been disenfranchised, since we have put in a lot of resources and time into this and at the end of the day, somebody somewhere because of their own personal and inordinate ambition and interest, have taken it upon themselves to truncate this process and for the mere fact that we have not been given any opportunity to…
“If at all the screening committee feels that I have issues that would make me ineligible to stand for election, I think the guideline that was given to us when we procured the forms should be adhered to. Because in the guideline, it was stated that we should all face screening and thereafter if you have issues with your screening, there are some other windows for you to explore and that is Appeal Panel, that Appeal Panel will be constituted, you will now go and defend yourself on the reason or reasons why they feel you are not eligible to contest for the office.
“This was not done and now we feel we should do the needful. We have requested that the election should be cancelled and rescheduled. How the party would do it, I don’t know. Because injustice done to one is injustice done to all
“I do not see any reason why we will change the rules in the course of the game. The election was already in progress. We had mobilised, our people were there and now our people could not participate in the election that we have paid and we have done everything to ensure that we have the victory.”
Also speaking, another governorship aspirant, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, said there was no time he was formally communicated on his purported disqualification from the primary and declared that such decision could not stand.
He disclosed that he had forwarded a petition to the appropriate quarters on the matter, describing the development as a biggest shocker to him in the middle of an election.
“A purported radio announcement was aired in which certain names were cleared and certain names were not cleared to contest the ongoing primary, and for me, it was a biggest shocker that in the middle of an election a party will suddenly start announcing those that were cleared to run for that election and those that were not cleared to run for the same election.
“After the painstaking period of campaign and the process in which we all went through to obtain our expression of interest and nomination forms and went for the screening exercise in Abuja, no official communication whatsoever was issued to me. All I will hear is on the election day itself radio announcement was made.
“I believe as a founding member of APC and a loyal party member for that matter, I deserve more than this. I deserve the right to be informed of decisions. We have been there before as a Deputy National Chairman of one of the legacy parties. As a loyal party member, I have written my petition to the committee and I hope that the due process would be adhered to through the due channel for this issue to be addressed”, Saliu Mustapha said.