By Tony Edike
FORMER National Auditor of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from Enugu State, Chief Ray Nnaji, has protested the inclusion of Senator Hyde Onuaguluchi as member of the party’s Gubernatorial Screening Appeal Committee for South East zone.
According to him, Onuaguluchi is an interested party in the gubernatorial and other elections in Enugu State and will not be fair in handling such an important assignment.
Nnaji stated in a letter to the National Secretary of the PDP, dated December 24, 2010, that his protest was based on the fact that Onuaguluchi “has never hidden his intention and desire to ensure that Governor Sullivan Chime and his group, of which I am one of them, are deprived of all political recognition by the national leadership of the party, especially with regards to 2011 general election.”
Nnaji’s opposition came just as the political camp of Governor Chime yesterday alleged that supporters of PDP National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, in the state have resolved to mount a false campaign and propaganda against the re-election bid of the governor by misinforming members of the public that Chime had decided to dump the PDP for Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, to contest next year’s governorship election on its ticket.
Nnaji recalled in his letter of protest to PDP leadership that Rev Onuaguluchi had sometime this year led a group of protesters to the national headquarters of PDP with several complaints of political marginalization and other ills against the government of Enugu State and had since identified with the group of people who had decided to make things very difficult for the party in the state.
“I am aware that people who are normally chosen to be members of such committees are those who had no particular interest to any group in the political contests of the state. Therefore, making Rev. Hyde Onuaguluchi a member of such committee as important as Gubernatorial Screening Appeal is tantamount to empowering the dissenting voice in Enugu State against the majority, including the government of the day.
“Finally, it is important that the national leadership of our great party is seen not only taking side in the discharge of their functions, but be prepared to ensure a level playing grounds to all individuals and group through objective and rational decisions on issues bordering on the political affairs of the party.
“The earlier Rev. Hyde Onuaguluchi is removed from the committee, the better for the party,” Nnaji wrote.
Meanwhile, Governor Chime had repeatedly said that his ticket and that of President Goodluck Jonathan could not be thwarted by anybody under any guise, affirming his commitment towards ensuring that the president’s desire to continue his good works for the nation was realized.
“It is important to state that Chime has been cleared to contest the 2011 gubernatorial election by the Gemade-led Gubernatorial Screening panel for South East whereas his opponents who are loyal to Nwodo are yet to get the party’s clearance for the contest.
“The PDP guidelines on the qualification of aspirants for participation in the primary election is very clear, particularly on the issue of waiver and party membership card which are obtained at Ward level and not at Abuja.
“We are, therefore, watching to see how Nwodo supporters will scale this hurdle,” one of the governor’s supporters said yesterday.
The governor’s camp said the alleged plot by Nwodo’s supporters to embark on the smear campaign was hatched at a meeting held at the Independence Layout residence of one of the disqualified gubernatorial aspirants in the camp of the national chairman in Enugu last Friday.
Chime’s supporters revealed that the plot which included advertorials in national dailies to misinform the people that Chime has opted for Action Congress of Nigeria even when he is the only gubernatorial candidate so far cleared by the party, has lend credence to speculations that Onuaguluchi’s inclusion in the Appeal Panel by Nwodo was intended to jeopardize the governor’s interest in the party.
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, Enugu State chapter, had also warned the PDP in the state to put its house in order or be prepared to face the consequences that will be unleashed on it by the group.
Speaking with reporters in Enugu, the state chairman of CNPP, Mr. Adonys Igwe, warned rumour peddlers to desist from their wicked and callous insinuations that Governor Chime was already making efforts to contest the 2011 gubernatorial election on the platform of another political party.
“It is not true that the governor has approached some of the other parties for him to contest the election. The man will run in PDP and we of the other parties have adopted him as our consensus candidate. I mean, how can you change a performing governor?” Igwe asked.
Igwe stated that the 38 political parties, who are members of CNPP in the state, would come out collectively and work for Chime, declaring that “our adoption of Chime is unshakable and it remains.”