BY IKE UCHECHUKWU – CALABAR
There was pandemonium in the early hours of Monday as aggrieved stakeholders and party faithful stormed the State Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River state to protest against the alleged automatic ticket that the party has granted some class of persons in the party.
Vanguard gathered that the aggrieved members who came in their thousands are protesting against the plans by the PDP at the national to give aspirants especially National Assembly members automatic
Vanguard also gathered that two supporters were shot at the venue of the protest (PDP Secretariat) following a disagreement among party members but were immediately rushed to the hospital for treatment.
The placard carrying protesters/members who stormed the Party Secretariat at 42a Muritala Mohammed Highway in Calabar decried the planned move by the party at the national to impose candidate on them.
Vanguard observed from various inscriptions on the placard like “reverse automatic ticket”, ”PDP going going Gone” ,RIP PDP, Let us go to the field” among others decried the fact that many of the aspirants who have been purportedly given automatic ticket have already served more than one term .
They called on the National Chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus to as a matter of urgency look into the matter by reversing the automatic ticket and calling other aggrieved party members to a round table
before it is too late.
IT IS A DANGEROUS PROCESS AND DECISION…EKPO OKON
Addressing Journalist on Monday at the party Secretariat, Ntufam Ekpo Okon, former PDP chairman in the state and Senatorial aspirant said they will not blink and allow this impunity to go unchallenged.
His words: “We will not blink and allow this to go on unchallenged. We are conversant with democratic values and the content of the constitution of our party. We have read the guidelines for these
primaries, the process of nomination party primaries and we did not just jump into this. We have been members who have paid our dues.
“Now, the process have started, we paid for our nomination forms and paid all fees required only for us to be called and told that the NWC of our party has taken a position to direct all incumbent members of the National Assembly should be returned unopposed. That means even if we go through the congresses, we do not stand any chance because they would send names that they have decided to send.
“They pretended as if we were going to have congress to elect adhoc delegates. And meanwhile did not do any congresses anywhere in the 196 wards of Cross River and wrote lists of delegates to support that charade.
“The truth of the matter is that it is unfortunate because it means that PDP, as a party, has learnt nothing. All that befell PDP in 2015, one would have expected that PDP would have come out of this situation wiser.
But if this is what PDP has chosen to do, it is not acceptable and it is not going to go down well with us and we will not accept it. We are members of the party and insist that let there be level playing field. We are ready to contest on a level playing field. That charade called congresses of Saturday, anyway it did not hold, they just sat down and wrote down names, would not hold, must be cancelled forthwith, and let us do a democratically conducted exercise, supervised by INEC, let us ensure our party members make a choice.
“Look at APC. They are doing direct primaries. If I remember after the 2015 windfall that finished us, the Ekweremadu committee recommend a direct primary. We jettisoned all that. Today even the indirect primaries we cannot open our hearts and do the right thing. If this was the case, why didn’t you make the pronouncement and stop selling forms. You sold forms, collected money from us and now turn round to shortchange us. It is unacceptable.
We want the party to reverse itself on this dangerous process and do the right thing. If they don’t, we will consult with our people and do the needful. I am running in an election. It is my aspiration but it is an aspiration that goes beyond me. The same impunity that made us loose elections in 2015 has fully come back to the party even in a higher proportion and complicated dimension. We failed because of this kind of attitude in 2015 and if we don’t address it now we are likely to fail again,” he lamented .
AUTOMATIC TICKET IS OBNOXIOUS
In a related development, a communiqué signed by all NASS aspirants under PDP in Cross River and made available to Vanguard partly read “We are appalled by the decision to return all serving members of the National Assembly to placate them ,a few individual, over and above the collective wish and general good of a greater number politically conscious Cross Riverians;thereby limiting the pool of competent candidates available from which the party can select its flag bearers in the forthcoming elections.
“This is dangerous, as the party for the first time in the fourth republic, is faced with a formidable opposition, which controls the power at the centre. We believe that this is risky gamble. “Recall that this imposition of candidate, lack of open space and impunity railroad our party into the implosion from which she is yet to recover. It would appear that our party has not veered away from
that ignoble course and allow popular political reasoning of free and fair democratic practices prevail,’’ they stated.