The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, says it stands by its position that the deputy governor of Zamfara State, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau, should be accorded the statutory office of the state governor given the decision of Governor Bello Matawalle to vacate his office by decamping to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The party insists that it will not be deterred by series of threats and attacks coming from APC including “the unintelligent, hogwash and unsolicited legal opinion” expressed by the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo.
In a statement by its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, the party queries the minister’s credentials as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, saying Mr Keyamo lacks sound legal reasoning.
“Keyamo, in his failed effort to fault our reliance on the Supreme Court’s direct interpretation of Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in its judgment on Faleke v. INEC, ended up exposing a poor knowledge of the application of the law, by stating that the judgment cannot apply in a case of defection of a governor from the party on which platform he was elected to another, particularly, a party that did not even participate in the election.
“We refer Keyamo to the definite pronouncement of the Supreme Court in that case, to the effect that it is the political party that stands for election, that votes scored in election belong to the political party and that the candidate nominated to contest at an election by his party acts only as the “agent” of his party.
“The incontrovertible applicative import of that judgment is that the votes upon which Bello Matallawe assumed office as the governor of Zamfara state belong to the PDP and they are not transferable to the APC, which did not sponsor candidates for that election as required by section 221 of the Constitution.
On Keyamo’s claim that once elected, the governor drops that party ticket and becomes free even to decamp to any other political party, the PDP ask, “if that be the case under the law, how come Mukhtar Shehu Idris of the APC, who was already declared as elected governor of Zamfara State, had to lose the position immediately the Supreme Court decided that the votes cast for APC in that election cannot count.
“Nigeria runs a party system and the judgement of the Supreme Court had made it clear that a state governor only stands on the pedestal of votes belonging to the political party which sponsored him at the election and that, once the pedestal is removed, as in the case of Mukhtar Shehu Idris in Zamfara, or once the governor jumps off the pedestal, as in the case of Bello Matawalle, he automatically loses statutory understructure to remain a governor.
“Perhaps Kayamo needs be reminded that there is no position of independent candidacy in Nigeria which is why it is the logos of political parties and not names of candidates that are imprinted on the ballot papers, if he had ever participated in elections and voted before.”
The PDP therefore said it found it strange that Mr Keyamo chose to “jump on a rough voyage”, to attempt to dissuade the PDP from testing these issues before the law courts.
“In any case, the PDP is not surprised that Keyamo could offer such warped legal opinion picked off the shelves of Jankara market since he admitted that his intervention was borne “out of partisanship”.
“It is imperative to advise Festus Keyamo that since he has admitted to partisanship and had even begun to offer legal services to a sinking Bello Matawalle and the APC, he cannot do so as a Minister of the Federal Republic, who earns a living from the taxes paid by Nigerians across party lines,” Mr Ologbondiyan said.
The PDP therefore demands the immediate resignation of Mr Keyamo as a minister and also advises him to join Mr Matawalle’s legal team in his already lost bid to run away with the mandate of the PDP.