The election and inauguration of an interim executive for the Delta State chapter of the APC was marred by infighting as leaders of one of the legacy parties fought against alleged distortion of an already determined deal. Were they crying foul or wolf?
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and Austin Ogwuda
SUGGESTIONS that the last state chairman of one of the legacy parties that formed the All Progressives Congress, APC, had turned a clog in the wheel of progress of the new party would have shocked many.
Chief Adolo Okotie-Eboh, the last chairman of the Delta State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, however, had his beef and it was serious last Friday.
“I am not satisfied with the list of those to be sworn in, (and) the reason is that that list has not been approved by the national body of APC in accordance with the guideline,” Okotie-Eboh told newsmen who thronged the Grand Hotel, Asaba venue of the scheduled inauguration of the interim state executive of the newly merged party.
Okotie-Eboh, a scion of the Festus Okotie-Eboh family had few years ago and against odds, turned into a fiery critic of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP led administration in Delta. He was particularly critical of the administration’s failure to conduct local government elections and the use of caretaker committees.
It was a surprise to some that Okotie-Eboh, an Itsekiri would agree to lead the opposition party to a government led by an Itsekiri son in the person of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.
He was, however, not alone as he had as fellow crusader, the former member of the House of Representatives, Ms Temi Harriman who made a name for herself when she became the only southern member of the PDP who openly stood against the third term constitution amendment in 2006.
So given his antecedents, Okotie-Eboh’s strong reservations against the consolidation of the new opposition party was bewildering to many last Friday. But not totally surprising given the impression that Okotie-Eboh was about to be edged out from his place of reckoning in the leadership of the APC in Delta State.
Last Friday he, however, had a cause, at least in his own consideration. He was especially grieved by what he claimed was the distortion of the original harmonization committee empanelled by the national secretariat of the party for the state.
“The NEC of APC should immediately come out with a definite statement as it concerns the Delta State Harmonization Committee (DSHC) and that the ACN’s list should be restored to its original form and the two names substituted be restored”, Okotie-Eboh told newsmen last Friday.
The former ACN chairman also raised issues with the constitution of delegates for the election of interim executive of the APC. Okotie-Eboh was especially grieved by the fact that whereas the former All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, ACN, and Congress for Progressive Change, CPC got 9, 7 and 6 slots to the delegate congress last Friday, but that the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP which was not an integral member of the alliance at the national level got 10 slots.
Party sources say that Okotie-Eboh’s claims against the allotment of slots to the DPP was the reason for the postponement of the election of the interim executive which was earlier fixed for last December.
Allocation of slots
The opposition to the allocation of slots to the DPP was, however, dismissed by the party’s interim national executive which as it was learnt had in its wisdom decided to recognize the DPP in Delta State as one of the legacy parties given the drive and devotion of the DPP in the state to the merger with the APC.
It was also understandable that the DPP in Delta State would be accorded the highest number of slots because it had by far the largest presence among the legacy parties.
In choosing delegates to the election of the interim executive, the national secretariat had stipulated that national leaders of the party, former and serving governors, former senators and serving senators, the state chairmen and secretaries and women leaders should be recognized as delegates to the election of interim executive.
Based on these criteria, DPP emerged with the highest number of slots a development that peeved Okotie-Eboh and some of his associates who marshaled the demonstration against the conduct of the APC election.
However, whatever sympathy Okotie-Eboh garnered was equally undermined by impressions that the demonstration against the election and inauguration of the new APC executive was instigated by agents of the PDP in the state and where not, by the PDP administration.
Inferences to this was especially conveyed by the alleged presence in the vicinity by a former stalwart of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN who has returned to the PDP from where he came from and is now known to be actively working for the political interests of the state administration.
Besides, the policemen that were alleged to have guided the demonstrators to the hotel were said to have been policemen deployed to one of the leading political office holders in the state.
Peeved by the action of the demonstrators, Chief Tom Ikimi, the national vice-chairman, South South of the APC whose duty it was to preside over the election and inaugurate the new executive was reported to have told officials of the APC already in Asaba, the Delta State capital that he would not come until the protest was calmed.
When the commotion died down and Ikimi with his entourage arrived, he was quick to dismiss the insinuations conveyed by the demonstrators and insisted that the DPP had won its slots meritoriously.
Dismissal by the national secretariat
“There was no violation of any sort. We are in order,” Ikimi said as he noted that issues raised against the inauguration had in the past been channeled to the national secretariat which dismissed them.
“Ikimi also told us that he was not surprised that the opposition in Delta State had for long not been able to bite given what happened on Friday,” one of the delegates told Vanguard on the condition of anonymity.
The delegates who voted were chairmen and secretaries of the four legacy parties that formed the APC in Delta State and party elders including former Senator Francis Okpozo, former Deputy Inspector General DIG Donald Ugbaja, former union leader Chief Frank Kokori among others.
Of a list of about 32 expected voters only 26 it was learnt were accredited for the vote.
At the end of the voting, the following were elected as interim officers of the party in Delta.
1)Rev Jones Erue- interim chairman, 2)Mr Chidi Okonji-interim Secretary, 3)Mr Akpodafe Edewor-interim Treasurer, 4)Mr Precious Enweayoi interim Publicity Secretary, 5)Hon Harvest Igben-interim Organising Secretary.
How the new officials proceed from now would determine the shape and structure of the opposition against the dominance of the PDP in Delta State.