Group lambastes APC, says it is double standard for party to disqualify Shittu from governorship race

Group lambastes APC, says it is double standard for party to disqualify Shittu from governorship race

- Coalition for justice and equity has berated APC leadership for disqualifying the minister of communication, Adebayo Shittu

- Shittu is one of the aspirants jostling to get APC ticket ahead of 2019 governorship election in Oyo state

- The NWC of the APC had on Thursday, September 27, disqualified Shittu from the race, citing his failure to undergo compulsory one year NYSC programme

A group, coalition for justice and equity, Oyo state chapter, has berated the National Working Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for disqualifying the minister of communications, Adebayo Shittu, from the governorship race. reported that Shittu was disqualified from Oyo governorship race on Thursday, September 27 by the party's National Working Committee in Abuja for his failure to undergo one year compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme.

But in a statement signed by its secretary, Ambassador Adeyinka Adelakun, and made available to on Saturday, September 29, the group expressed dismay over the decision of the party towards the minister.

The statement read: "Our attention has been drawn to the purported disqualification of Chief Adebayo Shittu from the Oyo state gubernatorial primaries by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on the premise that “he does not have an NYSC certificate.

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“Asides the fact that we know that the hyacinth that is twisting its waist atop the water has its drummer beneath the river, it is important to express our shock and disappointment at the inconsistency and double standard of the NWC of our party, the APC.

“Discerning Nigerians will recall that it was widely reported in the mainstream media that Chief Adebayo Shittu was screened and cleared by the APC screening committee in Abuja, a day after the news of the NYSC issue broke out.

“If the screening committee had cleared the Honourable minister, one then wonders on what basis the NWC took its decision. Such oscillation shows clearly that this is just the fur of Esau but clearly the voice of Jacob.

“First, it is emphatically clear that the case of Chief Shittu’s service is rex judicata, given that it was a subject of litigation in 1979 when Mr Bada (the candidate of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN), whom he defeated to clinch the Oyo state House of Assembly seat at the general elections approached the High Court of Oyo State to challenge his emergence on the ground that he had not observed the one-year NYSC scheme.

“As opined by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Bola Ige, and affirmed by the learned judge who heard the matter, national service as a legislator would suffice as service to the Nation as well.

“It is also important to state that Decree 24 of 1973, over which the matter was heard, did not contemplate that there would ever be under a democratic dispensation, a young man who was still in Law School and below 30 years who would win an election into an elective position.

“It must also be added that the Decree at no time factored in graduates who leave for the Nigerian Defence Academy or the Police College rather than undergo the one-year NYSC scheme.

“These obvious flaws were what mandated the amendment of the NYSC Act in 1985. This being the case, and as we have maintained severally, it is a miscarriage of justice to judge Adebayo Shittu with the NYSC 1985 amendment, when the applicable law at the time was the 1973 Decree.

“Asides the facts above, the Honourable minister has always reiterated at every opportunity available that he won his election into the Oyo state House of Assembly in 1979 while he was still in the Law School. Except for the desire to be mischievously unwitty, any one would know that he did not hide the fact that he never participated in the NYSC scheme.

“In addition, the NYSC question also came up during his Ministerial screening before the Senate, and he reiterated the same point.

“It is also important to point out that the 1999 constitution, which serves as the grundnorm of Nigerian democracy, is clear as regards what qualifies one to stand for elections. Except if another amendment is done tomorrow, having a NYSC certificate is NEVER a prerequisite.

“While many have cited the Kemi Adeosun saga as a template, they tend to forget that her case is very different from the one involving Chief Adebayo Shittu.

“He never for once said that he engaged in NYSC, as he served the country in another capacity, the same way a young graduate who proceeded straight to the Defence Academy is serving the country in another capacity (even as contemplated in the 1973 Decree).

“It is clear that the action of the NWC negates the principles of natural justice – audi alterem patem (Hear the other side) and nemo judex in causa sua (You can’t be the judge and prosecutor in your own case) – as at no time was he invited by the NWC to air his defence on the issue. Without doubt, the NWC, clearly taking a side, has become the prosecutor and judge at the same time in this matter.

“For the benefit of undiscerning members of the public, it is apt to clarify that this charade of disqualification is not unconnected to the Honourable minister’s stance that the gubernatorial primaries of the APC in Oyo state must follow the direct primary mode, given that the current executives of the party in the state are already subjects of litigation, and it will be unfair, unjust, and unwise to use these current occupiers of executive positions of the party in the state as electoral college members for the party. This would amount to building something on nothing.

“Even after the party had released the primaries mode list to the public, the Minister went to the National Secretariat to challenge the decision, and even addressed a press conference there and then.

“It was just after his press conference that the NWC announced that he was not cleared to contest the election, as against the position of the Screening committee. If the witch gave an eerie cry yesterday and a child dies today, it goes without saying that there is a metaphysical connection between the two events.

“One would have expected some consistency should this 'NO NYSC' certificate rule is applied also to the likes Governor Abiola Ajimobi. But no, the man who man's the guillotine will never wish the noose is taken around his neck.

"Chief Adebayo Shittu remains the man to beat, given his sterling moral standing and laudable achievements as minister of communications, and this has sent cold shivers to some Sanballats and Tobiahs who masquerade as having the interest of the party at heart but have ulterior motives.

“One would have expected that the NWC would have learnt from what happened in Osun state, but it seems members of the NWC read tabloids and opinions from neighbouring Benin Republic, not from Mother Nigeria.

“Would this discourage him? NO! Would Chief Adebayo Shittu leave the party? Of course not, because a son does not abandon his father’s ship. We are sure he will explore every legal means possible to ensure justice is served.

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"They have fired many salvos in the past, from blackmail to crass misinformation, but Chief Adebayo Shittu keeps coming out victorious. This will and cannot be different in any way. We shall overcome!

Meanwhile, had earlier reported that the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, said that the party had to disqualify the minister of communication, Adebayo Shittu and his women affairs counterpart, Aisha Al-Hassan, in order to protect the party’s core values.

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