By Chuks Okocha
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said that it stood 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 insisted that it would not be deterred by series of threats and attacks coming from the APC, including what it described as the unintelligent, hogwash and unsolicited legal opinion expressed by the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Mr. Festus Keyamo, which lacked sound legal reasoning and queried his credentials as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The PDP in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan said that Keyamo faulted the PDP’s reliance on the Supreme Court’s direct interpretation of Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in its judgment on Faleke v. INEC, and 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, we 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?” PDP queried.
The main opposition party said, that Nigeria runs a party system and the judgment 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 Idris in Zamfara, or once the governor jumps off the pedestal, as in the case of Matawalle, he automatically loses statutory understructure to remain a governor