By Tony Dike
ENUGU â€”CONTRARYÂ to claims by the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Enugu State that no decision had been taken to grant automatic tickets to members of the party elected into public offices including the State and National Assembly, the Federal legislators, yesterday, disagreed with the partyâ€™s position.
They insisted that the issue of their nomination for the forthcoming elections had been concluded long ago.
The leader of the party and Governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime, had in a press interview in Abuja, last week, declared that the party would not give automatic ticket to elected public office holders in the state, assuring that a level-playing ground would be given all members of the party willing to contest next yearâ€™s general elections.
The state Chairman of PDP, Engr. Vita Abba, also issued a statement, weekend,Â saying that there was nothing like automatic ticket for members of the party, including members of the National Assembly in the forthcoming elections and urged the party members to discountenance media reports on the issue.
But some of the Federal lawmakers, who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity, revealed that a gentleman’s agreement was reached with the Governor and the party leadership at the time the Governor was at the Court of Appeal battling to recover his mandate which the Election Petition Tribunal had nullified.
â€œThe situation at that time was really tough that our leader (Governor Chime) had to dialogue with members of the National Assembly from the state, including the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and Senator Ayogu Eze on the need to give him their total support, which they agreed but with a condition that the Governor would support their return to the National Assembly at the expiration of the present tenure,â€ one of the lawmakers disclosed.
According to him, both parties had been working on that understanding since 2007, adding that it was a major reason why the relationship between the Abuja team and the Governor had been very cordial.
â€œWe, therefore, donâ€™t believe that the Governor and the leadership of the party would renege on that agreement, especially now that the process of nomina-ting candidates for the next elections has reached advanced stage,â€ said the source, who added that the new position of the party on the issue might be part of efforts to douse the tension being generated by some party members, who had declared their ambition to contest the 2011 elections.