By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
After fighting from the trenches for many years and with his efforts again clouded by the unusual political habits of the establishment in his native Delta State, the pain could be deciphered in Senator Francis Okpozo yesterday.
Senator Okpozo, leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Delta State was at pains speaking on the public announcement denouncing one of the sterling lights of the party in the state and in the country yesterday.
The state chairman of the party, Prophet Jones Erue and the assistant secretary of the party, Comrade Chris Onodjacha had in a joint announcement declared the expulsion of Hon. Temi Harriman and two others from the party. The other two, Dr. Alex Ideh and Mr. A.S Mene were also expelled from the party for purported anti party activities that led to the loss of Delta South Senatorial District in the recent presidential and National Assembly elections.
The intrigues, however, took some other dimension when Prophet Erue disowned the publications claiming not to have been part of any meeting where Harriman was listed for sanction.
Harriman, who was the state coordinator of the Buhari Campaign, was accused in the publication of allegedly withholding funds meant for the presidential campaign leading to what the signatories alleged led to the loss of her Delta South Senatorial zone in the presidential and National Assembly elections.
It was an allegation that shocked many given Harriman’s own antecedents especially her public acclamation as the only member of the PDP from the South in the House of Representatives who rejected the reported N50 million offered for support of the third term amendment in 2006.
The action against Harriman and the two others were especially displeasing to some within the party who saw it as a continuation of the crisis that followed the emergence of Otega Emerhor as the governorship candidate. Emerhor came into the party from the former Democratic Peoples Party, DPP and met a handful of dedicated party activists led by Senator Okpozo and Harriman among a few others.
Harriman was believed to be part of a group in the legacy parties from the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC who apparently were not swayed by the seeming fiancial clout that Emerhor came with to the party.
The gulf was not helped by the fact that only Harriman’s Warri South Local Government Area refused to endorse Emerhor as the party’s governorship candidate in the party primaries last year, an action some said could only have been because of Harriman.
Party sources alleged a cold war between the two leading to efforts by some from the Emerhor side of the party to stop Harriman from taking leadership of the GMB campaign during the last election campaign.
Party leaders from within and outside it was learnt had to insist on Harriman being the GMB State coordinator before the opposition faded away.
Asked on the alleged expulsion of Harriman, Senator Okpozo said: “That expulsion is unauthorised. It is unauthorised because Harriman is not holding any political office that will make the chairman and his executive of the party to expel, suspend or remove her from any position.
“Secondly, Harriman as the leader of the South Senatorial District in addition did not commit any offence because whatever money the party gave, she distributed it equally well to everybody’s satisfaction, so nobody should accuse her of anything. If the people accusing her wanted to take the money for themselves, it is their own headache. So I strongly object to this action of the state executive of the party and I have intimated the headquarters of the party. They should not harass the woman, they should not malign her and should not tarnish her image, she is an honest lady.
Asked if he was making any effort to resolve the issue, he said, “there is no issue to resolve. They made a mistake on it and if it is true that the executive issued that notice, then they are misdirected and if care is not taken, they will discipline all of them.”
The matter took a different angle when Prophet Erue who allegedly issued the expulsion notice disowned the publication saying he neither issued it nor partook in any meeting where the matter was discussed.
He said: ”I did not authorise that publication, I did not attend such a meeting, I did not know anything about it and I don’t know where the meeting took place. I have told my lawyers to find out who did it because it is eavesdropping my name. I don’t know anything about it.”
Speaking in the same wise, the state secretary of the party, Comrade Chudi Okonji
“There was nothing like any exco meeting held on such and whoever must have taken such publications to the press should be held responsible. We never held any meeting for such, it is so sad, it is so painful seeing such in a newspaper publication.
The matter even took a more aggressive form yesterday evening when party stakeholders from 23 local government areas of the state met to take a resolution affirming their unflinching loyalty to Harriman for her sterling sacrificial leadership of the party in the state.
The stakeholders, however, further deepened the crisis when they announced the dissolution of the state executive.