•Esiso did not signify interest to re-contest —Anirah, Unukegwho

•PDP is not an indigenous club — Egbedi

2023: Delta PDP stakeholders fight dirty over chairmanship slot
Ibori, Okowa and Esiso

By Paul Olayemi

DELTA State Chairman of the People Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Kingsley Esiso and the member representing Sapele constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Felix Anirah are at daggers drawn over Esiso’s second term bid.

Until the build-up to the last congress and party primaries for the House of Assembly seat in Sapele local council, Esiso was said to have preferred Mr Julius Egbedi, the current commissioner for Agriculture for the Delta State House of Assembly seat, only to be outwitted by Anirah, who had decamped from the All Progressive Congress, APC, to the PDP months earlier, in highly contested primaries.

The primaries and elections over, the bad blood between both parties was said to have come to the fore after a stakeholders’ meeting of the party was held at former Governor of the state, Chief James Ibori’s house in Oghara.

A source told Vanguard that the stakeholders’ meeting was an off-shoot of the State PDP caucus meeting held in Asaba, which directed all zones to go and fill the various positions zoned to their respective local councils. The decision by some of the party leaders in Sapele to reject the candidacy of Esiso is aimed at getting fair share of political privileges.

According to an insider, the PDP chairmanship slot has been zoned to Sapele Local Council and since Esiso is from Ethiope East Local Council, he cannot lay claim to a slot that has been zoned to Sapele and it is on this slate that the Anirah group is hinging its resolve to ensure that he does not emerge as the next Delta PDP chairman.
Esiso was said to have enjoyed full privileges and political benefits before relocating to Ethiope East Local Council in 2015.

“Esiso moved his INEC voter’s card from Sapele State Constituency elsewhere in 2015 and on Thursday, March 19, 2020, the State Chairman was zoned to Sapele Local Government in Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s residence by the leaders of Delta Central Senatorial District on the instructions of Delta State PDP caucus where the Governor and Deputy Governor of Delta State and other leaders of the party were present,” the source said.

A former Local Government Chairman, Hon Godwin Atose and a PDP chieftain and Community leader, Dr Festus Pemu are being marketed by the Anirah camp to succeed Esiso.

However, notable stakeholders like the Commissioner representing Sapele, Uvwie and Ethiope West in the board of Delta State Oil Producing Development Commission, DESOPADEC, and former House of Representatives member, Hon Joyce Overah; Chairman of Sapele Local Council, Eugene Inoaghan: Director of Asaba Airport, Mr Austin Ayemidejor; and others have continued to show their support for the current chairman, with a businessman, Mr Linus Mba, a long time ally of the State party chairman, who seems to be in the forefront of the fight, calling the other party’s wish, utopian.

Though Esiso has refused to speak on the issue but his supporters including former Vice Chairman of the Local Council, now Sapele PDP LG chairman, Hon Perkins Umukoro, and Comrade Okiemute Sowho, among others are not relenting in their support for him.

READ ALSO: Delta PDP threatens lawmaker with suspension over chairmanship tussle

A source from the Esiso camp, told Vanguard that Anirah and his cohorts’ moves were miscalculated. “They should have found out if Esiso had moved his voting right to Ethiope East. what happened was that Esiso voted here (Sapele) during the Presidential elections and because he was the state returning officer at the governorship election, he left for Asaba and did not vote here. So, the Anirah group thought he had gone to vote in Ethiope East,” the source said.

Esiso did not signify interest to contest again —Anirah, Unukegwho

However, Anirah; former commissioner in the defunct Bendel State, Chief Margaret Unukegwho; Engr Nicholas Oyawiri, and Mr Festus Pemu told Vanguard why they endorsed Godwin Atose as their nominee
“Atose was the only person who signified interest for the position of the state chairman, so we have affirmed him”

Anirah said “the zoning started from Asaba to the Senatorial districts, where past governor, deputy governor, prominent party leaders in the Senate and House of Representative members participated. Another meeting was slated for Delta central to zone the positions, and in that meeting, held on the 19th of March at James Ibori’s house, where all leaders in Delta Central were invited and represented, the chairman was zoned to Sapele.

“We called for a meeting again here in Sapele, because we were required to submit the names before April 2, and we expected every interested persons to attend and it was only Godwin Atose that indicated interest, so we forwarded his name. I am not aware if there is any other candidate anywhere, Esiso did not signify interest to contest”

Mrs Unukegwho also corroborated Anirah’s claim that Esiso didn’t indicate interest to contest, saying there was no opposition and so Atose was unanimously chosen.

It will be injustice to pick somebody outside the LG for the position – Oyawiri, Pemu

Two-party chieftains in Sapele, Festus Pemu, and Engr Nicholas Oyawiri, however, said it will be injustice to pick somebody who is not from the local government as agreed at the meeting at Ibori’s house.

“This position is for us to occupy. When it is time for other local government areas to produce state chairman, they always bring their own to occupy the position. Let the people of Sapele take what belongs to them” Pemu, who is also a community leader and founder of Pemu crusaders, one of Sapele biggest pressure groups, said.

Oyawiri told Vanguard that the decision by some of the party leaders in Sapele to reject the candidacy of Esiso is aimed at getting fair share of political privileges.

“Esiso moved his INEC voter’s card from Sapele State Constituency elsewhere and more so, three other positions have been zoned to his local government of origin, Ethiope East – State Organising Secretary, Assistant State Secretary, Central and National Women leader South-South, so why does he want to take the only position zoned to Sapele? Let us chose our choice and field a Sapele-born indigene” he pleaded.

PDP is not an indigenous club —Egbedi

Julius Egbedi, the commissioner for Agriculture, and a long time ally of Esiso, told Vanguard that the state chairman is a card-carrying member from Sapele, so he represents Sapele in the state exco, citing ethnic colouration and inordinate ambition as the driving force behind rooting for Esiso’s removal.

His words: “It’s not an indigenous club, if we decide to form a club in Sapele here, native and non-native, are you telling me it’s only the native that will rule the club?’’ He added that if the party leadership was an indigenous thing, there would have been no need to bring in non-natives.

He continued: “The state chairmanship position was already a Sapele thing since 2016, so the man (Esiso) is seeking a second term, when he was the Secretary of the party in the local government, and working for every politician who was contesting election, you never faulted him. PDP started in 1998, how many positions of significance has Sapele occupied before?”

They are not fighting Esiso, they are fighting PDP — Overah

Also speaking, Hon Joyce Overah told Vanguard that Esiso has no problem with anybody and bickering was uncalled for.

“There is a caucus that takes decision at the state level in the party, fortunately only Esiso and I are members of the caucus in Sapele. we resolved that because these particular executives have worked tirelessly in bringing all of us back, let them go for second tenure especially for those who have not done second term. When I came back, I called a meeting of all PDP leaders here and I told them before the ward congresses, what is happening in Sapele local government today is a shame, they are not fighting Esiso, they are fighting PDP” he said.

READ ALSO: Delta state PDP Chairmanship: We won’t give up – Sapele Political leaders

The Sapele Local government chairman, Hon Eugene Inoaghan has also denied being invited by the Anirah group to a caucus meeting, adding that the battle for the position is open to all.

Battle for 2023

As the war rages, analysts have argued that the opposition against Esiso was beyond Sapele constituency. “The PDP leaders in Delta Central want to enthrone a party chairman that will be loyal to them so that they can choose a governor of their choice” a source who craved anonymity said.

However, despite this comment from the staunch supporters of the incumbent party chairman, the Anirah camp is not relenting in its determination to kick Esiso out of the way.

From the look of things, neither of the two groups is willing to let go. While Esiso is fighting hard to retain his seat, the Anirah group is determined to ensure that Esiso does not remain as chairman. It is to be seen where the pendulum of victory will swing.

Vanguard News Nigeria

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.