By HENRY UMORU, ASSISTANT POLITICAL EDITOR

SINCE the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, conducted its ward congresses on Saturday, November 1,2014 across the country,  all has not been well with the national leadership, following protests from the states.

The PDP also, on November 8, conducted congresses in  the 774 local government councils for the nomination of national delegates to the national convention slated for December 10/11.

During the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms, the PDP national secretariat was a beehive of activities, but it became dull after the closure of filled nomination forms. The secretariat again has come to life weeks after the congresses with protesters besieging the place almost on a daily basis. According to the PDP’s guidelines for primary elections 2014 and for the purpose of nominating, the party’s candidate for the offices of governor of a state, member of the National  Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives), member of the state House of Assembly and election of national delegate, each ward chapter of the party shall elect three ad- hoc delegates at a special ward congress, at least one of whom shall be a woman and the same delegates shall participate in the special congresses for the nomination of the candidates mentioned above.

To say the least, the ward congresses, rather than solidify the party ahead of its primary elections and the 2015 general polls, are creating discontent within the  party, just as, since the exercise ended, accusations and counter accusations, laced with complaints of widespread irregularities in the conduct, doctoring of delegates’ list have pitched many of the party’s chieftains, stakeholders, leaders and members against one another across the states. From Akwa Ibom to Oyo, Cross River, Adamawa, Taraba, Enugu, Ogun, Ondo, Abia, Ebonyi, Benue, Delta, among others, the case remains the same.

THE ENUGU DEBACLE

In Enugu, the fight has been between the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and Governor Sullivan Chime and their supporters with complaints from the governor that the number five citizen has hijacked the process to his favour. The face-off has since divided  party loyalists in the state. The two factions, each led by the Chime and Ekweremadu, are laying claim to the leadership of the party in Enugu. It was reported that Chime’s loyalists accused Ekweremadu’s group of “hijacking” materials, claiming there were no primary elections. But the Acting Chairman of the party in the state,

Mr. David Aja, insisted that the congresses not only held, they  went well under his watch as approved by the national secretariat. The   quagmire reared its head  following  the resignation of the former state Chairman, Vita Abba.

While the Chime-backed PDP State Executive Committee is insisting that Ikeje Asogwa remains the party Chairman, the group loyal to Ekweremadu has been backing the Deputy Chairman, Elder David Ajah, who was also endorsed by the National Working Committee, NWC, as the Acting Chairman.

RIVERS OF TROUBLE

Nyesom Wike
Nyesom Wike

Rivers State was a hot bed of crisis as it was reported that not less than 16 governorship aspirants of the party boycotted the congresses in protest against an alleged attempt to foist ex-Minister of State, Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, on the PDP during the governorship primary election.

According to the aggrieved aspirants, the rotation of the governorship position in the state should be strictly upheld, adding that Wike as an Ikwerre man, who hails from the incumbent’s place, was not qualified to run. Some of the aggrieved aspirants who shunned the congresses were: Prince Tonye Princewill, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Becks Dagogo Jack, Gabriel Pidomsom, Senator Lee Maeba and Dr

Silva Opusunju. Others were Prof Dan Baridam, Samson Ngerebara, Paweriso Samuel Horsfall, Nimi Wilson Jack, Major Lancelot Ayanya rtd, among others.

In a communiqué endorsed by the 16 aspirants, they demanded that the ward and local government congresses in Rivers State be postponed until the crisis in the party is resolved to allow fair and equitable participation of all aspirants.

The aspirants, who accused the President’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, of meddling in the party’s affairs in the state, and kicked against the alleged endorsement of Wike by the First Lady, said, “We have restrained ourselves from addressing the unacceptable and unfortunate interference of the First Lady in the affairs of the Rivers State PDP because of the enormous respect we have for our son, President Jonathan, but we want to say enough is enough.”

The problem in Rivers did not end at the congresses. During the screening of governorship aspirants, many were screened out to the pave way for Wike to have smooth ride to becoming the state PDP’s governorship candidate for the 2015 election. The aspirants screened out stormed the PDP national secretariat to complain with some of them later cleared by the NWC.

But the  state Chairman of the PDP, Felix Obuah, who described the aspirants that boycotted the congresses as desperate politicians, accused them of doing everything to frustrate the party’s efforts in the state.

THE OYO STALEMATE

In Oyo State, the three leading governorship aspirants laid claims to victory, just as the  leading aspirants, former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, Senator Teslim Folarin and Mr Seyi Makinde, all claimed to have won the congresses.

HIJACK CLAIM IN AKWA IBOM

Akwa Ibom State was not left out as some aspirants alleged that Governor Godswill Akpabio hijacked the process to enable him actualise his senatorial ambition as well as install his preferred successor, Udom Emmanuel. Other aspirants were schemed out which culminated in the dumping of the PDP for the All Progressives Congress, APC, by Umana Okon Umana. PDP elders like former Governor Victor Attah, Chief Don Etiebet, among others, raised the alarm over the congresses, saying nothing like that took place.

The situation in Akwa Ibom degenerated to the point that two factions of the PDP from Eastern Obolo Local Government Area engaged each another in a brawl, leading to the death of one person, while two others were beaten into coma. Pandemonium was said to have broken out when some hoodlums from a faction of the party attempted to hijack election materials and were resisted by another group. The police later moved in and restored calm. Delegates at the party secretariat, venue of the congress, were said to have scampered for safety, with several fatalities and many injured in the process.

IMOKE, NDOMA-EGBA BATTLE FOR C-RIVER

Since the congresses in Cross River State, the fight has been between the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma- Egba, and Governor Liyel Imoke And their supporters, with Ndoma- Egba controlling the delegates,  but the leadership of the PDP bowed to pressure and complaints from some elders, stakeholders, leaders of the party and cancelled the earlier conducted congresses in three states, with Cross River State as part of it.

Other affected states were Lagos and Oyo.  A former Deputy National Chairman, Alhaji Shu’aib Oyedokun, chaired the five-member Committee for Cross River State with Senator Emmanuel Anosike, Rabiu Bako, and two others as members.

OGUN: ITS OLD VS NEW MEMBERS

Ogun State was also not spared as the state PDP Chairman, Adebayo Dayo, complained bitterly over permutations by members who were newly readmitted from other parties, fighting to take control of party structures through the congresses. Though the congresses were generally reported to be peaceful, some delegates protested at the party secretariat over inability to submit their forms which led to the deployment of the Mobile Police to forestall crisis.

Dayo, while calling for the review of the exercise, alleged that the returnees got separate forms for delegates, different from the ones legally obtained by the contestants at the party’s secretariat.

BENUE: SUSWAM, GEMADE AT WAR

In Benue State, it was a battle for the soul of the state between Governor Gabriel Suswam and Senator Barnabas Gemade as both chieftains accused each other of purchasing delegate forms for undue advantage in the elections.

EKITI: FAYOSE SQUARE UP TO SENATOR ARISE

Sen. Arise
Sen. Arise

In Ekiti State, it was a battle for control between Senator Ayo Arise and  Governor Ayodele Fayose with the former accusing the latter of under hand dealings in the compilation of the list of the ad hoc delegates.

He alleged, “Fayose did not allow any congress to hold here in Ekiti-North Senatorial District. He (Fayose) had already compiled the list of delegates in favour of my challenger, Duro Faseyi. As I am talking to you, the chairmen of all the wards and local governments have been summoned to Ado-Ekiti by the governor to sign the forged lists.”

TURMOIL IN IMO

In Imo State, 11 PDP governorship aspirants threatened to work against the party in 2015 if the congresses were not cancelled, just as they called for the cancellation of the November 1 ward congress held in the state, adding that the election of the ad hoc delegates did not follow laid down procedure. Addressing journalists in Abuja on behalf of the 11 aspirants, Chief Mike Ahamba requested that the congresses be cancelled due to irregularities, adding that Section 7.3 (c) of the PDP Constitution guarantees adherence to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness.

According to Ahamba,”the ward congress elections should be cancelled and new nes conducted in transparent and accountable manner”.

He explained that they were committed to restoring PDP to power in the state, adding that only a credible and transparent ward congress election can lead to a primary election that will produce an acceptable candidate of Owerri Zone extraction.

He said, “We therefore strongly advise the leadership of the party that any candidate that emerges from this current fraudulent process will not enjoy our support”.

According to him, since the return of democratic governance in 1999, the office of the state governor has rotated between the two senatorial zones of Orlu and Okigwe to the exclusion of Owerri Zone, adding, “It is therefore equitable, just and fair that governorship of Imo State be zoned to Owerri

Senatorial Zone come 2015.”

The aspirants who signed the statement were Senator Bright Nwanne, Senator Chris Anyanwu, Bethel Amadi, Professor Jude Njoku, Ken Njemanze and Lady Clara Njoku. Others were Charles Onyeagbako, Dr. Charles Amanze, Chief Charles Onuoha, and Humphrey Anumudu.

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