Osun West Bye-Election: Saraki, Odigie-Oyegun Move Against Tinubu As APC Disqualifies Aregbesola’s Candidate

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Mr. Mudashiru Hussain, a senator between 2011 and 2015 and until recently, Osun State Commissioner for Cabinet Matters is battling the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state over the decision of the party’s screening committee to disqualify him from the primaries for the Osun West Senatorial District bye-election.  

His disqualification was conveyed to him in a two-page letter from the party’s National Secretariat. Jointly signed by Messrs. Sanusi Garba Bakaji and Charles Arhiavbere, respectively Chairman and Secretary of the Screening Committee, the letter, dated 10 June, commended Mr. Hussain’s performance during the screening exercise.

The Committee, however, referred him to the 2014 APC Guidelines on the Nomination of Candidates for Public Office, which states: “In conformity with with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, qualification for aspirants to respect offices in State House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, Governor and President, the party’s guidelines prescribe that an aspirant seeking public office on its platform shall not have remained as an employee of the Public Service within 30 days preceding the date of the election.” The party noted that Mr. Hussain admitted that he was a Commissioner during the screening exercise, a fact it considers a contradiction of its guidelines. The Committee advised Mr. Hussain to seek redress through the party’s Appeals Committee should he be dissatisfied with his disqualification.                    Mr.Hussain is the preferred candidate of Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, governor of Osun State, to replace the recently deceased Mr. Isiaka Adeleke. Mr. Aregbesola is a protégé of Mr. Bola Tinubu, an APC top dog.

The party’s screening committee based its decision to disqualify Mr. Hussain from the race on his presumed failure to resign his appointment as a member of the Osun State Executive Council.

The committee’s decision, SaharaReporters learned, was reached through prodding by Senate President, Mr. Bukola Saraki, and APC National Chairman, Mr. John Odigie-Oyegun, who are minded to curb the influence of Mr. Tinubu in the South -West.

The party’s decision has angered the Aregbesola camp, which prefers him to Dr. Ademola Adeleke, younger brother of the deceased senator and former governor. Dr.Adeleke is viewed as a non-APC member. The brain box of the Aregbesola camp is Mr. Bashiru Ajibola, Osun State Attorney-General, and Justice Commissioner. Mr. Ajibola has argued that the position of the law, based on Section 66(1) of the Constitution, is that no person shall be eligible for election into the Senate if he/she fails to resign from the Federal or state public service 30 days before the date of the election. But this provision, posited Mr. Ajibola, is only applicable to those issued letters of employment by the Federal or state public service.

“Senator Husain, as Commissioner, Cabinet Matters, is not a public officer within the definition of public office of a state in Section 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution, so as to bring him within the purview of section 66(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution as ultimately decided in Dada v. Adeyeye (supra) per Onnoghen, JCA at 24,” argued Mr. Ajibola.

He equally argued that Mr.Husain formally resigned his appointment as Commissioner on 6 June immediately after the inaugural meeting of the State Executive Council in furtherance of his intention to contest the Osun West Senatorial bye-election. SaharaReporters can confirm that Mr. Hussain formally resigned his appointment. In a one-page letter addressed to the Osun State governor and exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, he thanked Mr. Aregbesola and stated that he was resigning to allow him to vie for the 8 July bye-election.

“Clearly, this is more than the thirty days before the date of election slated for the 8th Day of July 2017.  Therefore, on all scores, Senator Husain is eligible to contest the elections, having fulfilled the constitutional requirements.Secondly, by the provisions of Article 31(1)(iii) of the APC Constitution, it is only party office holders, who are interested in contesting for elective office that is mandated to resign and leave office 30 days prior to the date of nomination or party primary. Senator Mudashiru Husain’s appointment was in relation to membership of the executive council of the State Government of Osun and not an official position within the hierarchy of party,” Mr. Ajibola contended.

As such, he further argued, the stated provision of the party’s constitution does not apply to Mr. Hussain because he is not currently a party office holder.

In addition, the Osun State Attorney-General argued that there is no provision in the party’s 2014 Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for Public Office requiring the resignation of a commissioner 30 days before the date of nomination or party primary.
“Therefore, I am of the firm conviction that it is absolutely wrong and manifestly unjust for the Screening Committee to disqualify Mr. Hussain from contesting the primary, as there is no basis to do so in the light of the compelling provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act, the Constitution of APC and APC’s 2014 Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for Public Office,” said Ajibola.

As at the time of publishing this report, an appeal from the Osun state APC has failed and Senator Hussain is not back on the ballot as a candidate of the APC to replace Senator Adeleke in a bye-election.

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