By Marie-Therese Nanlong, Daud Olatunji, Tom Moses, John Mkom & Francis Igata
There were indications yesterday that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP could be factionalised in many states on account of last weekend’s ward congresses.
The ward congresses were held to elect three ward delegates to join statutory delegates who are the primary constituency for the nomination of candidates for elective offices at the federal and state levels.
At the end of last Saturday’s exercise, the party was sharply divided in several states on account of alleged malpractices and sharp practises which allegedly characterised the exercise.
In several states, losers alleged that there were no congresses while those who won claimed that the congresses were peaceful.
No congresses in Abia, senators allege
All three incumbent senators in Abia, Senators Uche Chukwumerije, Nkechi Nwaogu and Enyininnya Abaribe in a joint statement with some other stakeholders, including former managing director of Diamond Bank, Dr. Alex Otti claimed that there were no congresses in Abia State, a claim that was sharply rebuffed by Governor Theodore Orji who claimed that the congresses held throughout the state peacefully.
Chime’s loyalists cry foul
In Enugu State, loyalists of Governor Sullivan Chime cried foul, alleging that there were no congresses on account of the purported “hijack” of the materials, a claim robustly rebuffed by the acting chairman of the party, Mr. David Aja, a loyalist of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy president of the Senate. Aja affirmed that the congresses held throughout the state under his watch as approved by the national secretariat.
The Chime faction was yesterday preparing a petition to be sent to the national secretariat to disclaim the assertion of a free and fair congress.
16 gov aspirants boycott congresses in Rivers
In Rivers State, where 16 of the gubernatorial aspirants boycotted the ward congresses on the allegation that the state executive had skewed the process in favour of Nyesom Wike, former minister of state (education), the aggrieved aspirants yesterday reiterated their claim that there was no congress throughout the state.
Barr. Soalabo West, who spoke for the aspirants yesterday said about two thousand persons who bought the delegate forms from the Abuja office of the party could not submit them at the party’s state secretariat in Port Harcourt as the state leadership refused to accept them, saying they were not bought from the secretariat.
Their claim was rebuffed by the state chapter chairman of the party, Mr. Felix Obuah, who said the congresses were peacefully conducted in all 319 wards.
Continuing, he said those who called for postponement of the exercise were agents of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.
‘Kwara exercise, a fraud’
In Kwara State, the major governorship aspirants, including Alhaji Jani Ibrahim and Sunday Babalola were as at press time still studying the outcome of the congress conducted by the Senator Iyiola Omisore-led panel, but a group of stakeholders in the party under the aegis of Kwara Democratic Assembly described the exercise as fraud.
The group in a statement entitled, ”Brazen Electoral Fraud During Kwara PDP ward Congress” issued by its president, Comrade Kazeem Abiola” made available to journalists in Ilorin on Sunday.
Alhaji Jani Ibrahim in a telephone interview yesterday said: ”We are still studying the situation. All the complaints we have made are being looked into, but presently we cannot give a conclusive reaction to the exercise.”
In Ebonyi State, though the exercise was generally peaceful in most sections of the state, it was alleged that parallel congresses were conducted in some areas including Amiri Ekoli ward in Afikpo South West Constituency, where a politician (name withheld) in the presence of a senior police officer in the area and State Security Service, SSS tore the ward electoral panel members’ list for Afikpo South.
Parallel congresses in Ebonyi
Vanguard learned that there were parallel congresses in some of the wards by factions who are still laying claim to the leadership of the party in the state.
They claimed that the new leadership of the party in the state did not meet the party’s guidelines for the selection of a new Chairman as the Acting Chairman that took over from Chief Ugorji Ama-Oti did not resign and was still in good condition of health.
In Plateau State the congresses were held in 15 of the 16 local government areas while that of Pankshin Local Government Area was cancelled on account of alleged disagreement among PDP chieftains in the area.
In Ondo, too
The ward congress in Ondo State was trailed by allegation of parallel congresses, a claim dismissed by the newly-appointed Caretaker Chairman of the party, Dare Adeleke, who monitored the congress with a representative of the National Secretariat Senator Lekan Mustapha.
Senator Mustapha said the congress was peaceful.
Mustapha noted that “this is the first time I will witness a congress that will be very peaceful without any rancour.”
Vanguard learnt that the congress was crisis-free because of the method adopted in the election as agreed during a meeting with the PDP leaders and Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
Two of the three slots were given to the new PDP members in each ward while a slot was reserved for the Old PDP members to make the list of 609 delegates elected across the state yesterday.
Speaking with newsmen during the congress, Adeleke commended party members for conducting themselves peacefully.
However, the sacked state chairman of the party in the state Ebenezer Alabi said his executive also conducted a parallel congress across the state.
Alabi said the congress was witnessed by both INEC and national officers of the party but their names were not given.
Alabi said that “the only register that can be used for the Congress is the one in our custody and compiled more than 30 days ago.
Confusion in Anambra
The situation in Anambra State almost turned bloody last night at a popular hotel in Awka as the various factions in the state branch of the party tried to ensure that their delegates elected weekend were accepted by the party.
Before the congress, there was a letter from the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, saying it has recognized the faction of the party led by Mr. Ejike Oguebego.
Following the letter, INEC staff monitored the congress conducted the Oguebego faction in the 326 wards of the state.
However, an attempt by the chairman of another faction of the party, Prince Kenneth Emeakayi to question the INEC decision almost led to some party thugs mobbing him.
Before the congress, security operatives had sealed the state headquarters of the PDP where Emeakayi operated from.
At press time, a chieftain of PDP and former deputy senate president, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu was still meeting with some stakeholders of the party in the state at Finotel Hotel in Awka.
Though the final decision was not known yet, the Mantu-led committee was said to be working hard to accommodate all the interest groups in the party as it observed that allowing one faction to produce all the 978 ward delegates might not ensure peaceful atmosphere.
Governorship candidate of PDP in last year’s election in the state, Comrade Tony Nwoye expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the ward congress, describing it as free and fair.
He appealed to PDP members to remain peaceful even in the face of any provocation.
Criticism trails Oyo congress
In Oyo State, it was learnt that the results of last Saturday’s ward congresses would not be announced until all complaints that trailed the election were addressed.
Heated criticism greeted the congress in the 33 local government council areas of the state. The complaints will be taken care of today by the party.
Ogun partially peaceful
In Ogun State, the congresses reportedly held on a shaky note as many of those who sought election as delegates could not submit their forms.
Vanguard learnt that though the congresses were largely peaceful, but much of the activities were at the party secretariat, where some delegates who could not submit their forms protested in the morning, a development that led to the deployment of a detachment of mobile policemen to the secretariat.
…Same in Delta
In Delta State, the exercise was largely peaceful and there were no reports of serious violence or malpractice.
Despite Akpabio’s N1m largesse to thugs, violence still ruled the day
In Akwa Ibom State, the prospects for unity were, however, bleak on account of violence which characterised the congresses in several parts of the state. Governor Godswill Akpabio reportedly tried to douse tension at the state secretariat by giving out N1 million to thugs at the secretariat, but that did not pacify them, forcing the governor to call in policemen.
Compilation of results yet to commence in Taraba
In Taraba State, though the congresses were held across the state, Vanguard learnt that the compilation of the results was yet to commence.