BY OLASENI AKINSEYE
To the former deputy national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Chief Olabode George, his reported move to enlist Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour as the governorship candidate of the Labour Party has collapsed like packs of cards. Chief George, though a senior member of the PDP, allegedly recruited Gbadebo in order to weaken the PDP in Lagos state.
Though, another primary was conducted where Gbadebo emerged, beating his closest rival, Chief Moshood Salvador, checks at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, revealed that the attempt to substitute Prof Ifagbemi Awamaridi with Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour was dead on arrival as the name of Prof. Ifagbemi Awamaridi is conspicuously uploaded on INEC portal, as at the evening of tuesday the 16th of August, four days after the close of INEC portal for Governorship and State House of Assembly substitution.
Prof Awamaridi swore to an affidavit that he has not withdrawn as been speculated by the Gbadebo/Salvador group in LP. As a matter of fact, his affidavit which was published has been submitted with the INEC that he never withdrew for anyone. The
Electoral Act 2022 as amended stipulates that for any candidate to withdraw for a replacement, a written withdrawal letter signed by the candidate is ‘sine qua non.’ Without the withdrawal letter, it’s impossible to substitute any candidate in any other guise.
This according to INEC sources has rendered the primary where Gbadebo emerged as invalid. Even without Ifagbemi refusal to withdraw, the said substitution primary that produced Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour can’t survive judicial test with the participation of Labour Party state executives, which in that case were statutory delegates, a development that didn’t have a place in the 2022 electoral act as amended.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner in charge of information and voters awareness dropped the hint on Sunday Politics, a current affairs program on Channels Television. Okoye, while responding to a question on the eligibility of senate president, Ahmed Lawan and former minister of Niger delta affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio’s chances of been on the ballot in 2023, said: “Though, APC uploaded their names on INEC portal, but the fact that they didn’t emerged from validly conducted primaries may have jeopardized their chances of featuring in 2023 National Assembly election.”
Okoye also hinted that APC may not have candidates in Yobe North and Akwa Ibom north west in 2023.
With the current scenario playing out in the Labour Party, Gbadebo may have shot himself in the foot, because Awamaridi has told those who cared to listen that he has not stepped down for anyone. He has also followed it up with an affidavit and fillers from INEC has indicated that Awamaridi remains Labour Party in Lagos for Governoship election.
This may have also rendered all efforts of Chief George who financed Gbadebo as proxy candidate in LP a futile exercise.
What’s next for Gbadebo? This may remains a conjecture as INEC final list may shock him to the marrow when the gubernatorial list is published in the next few weeks.
Akinseye is a political commentator.