By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- AHEAD of 2023 gubernatorial elections and with primaries on going to pick candidates as flag bearers for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, this has become the most trying and tensed moments for aspirants as it has become a season of withdrawal from the contest by aspirants.
The action has become so manifest among PDP Governorship aspirants especially those who are having running battles with their Governors as they want to metamorphose from the Senate to the government house.
The outgoing Governors are blocking the Senators from succeeding them as they already have their anointed ones penciled down as their successors and against this backdrop, some of the aspirants have withdrawn from the race as they said that they are not comfortable with the delegate lists that will work against their interests.
Those who have withdrawn so far are Senate Minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South; former Deputu President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, PDP, Enugu West and Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, PDP, Akwa Ibom North East.
On his part, Ekweremadu who withdrew from participating in the PDP’s governorship primary election scheduled for yesterday, urged all his supporters to remain peaceful.
This was contain in a statement signed by the Director General of his campaign, Charles Asogwa.
Asogwa appreciated them and the people of Enugu state for the Goodwill they have invested in Senator Ekweremadu to actualise the “pathway to a New Enugu State”.
Also in a statement he personally signed who declared his withdrawal from the PDP’s governorship primaries scheduled today in the State, premised on the contentious 3-man ad-hoc delegates of the State.
Abaribe said, “To make matters worse, the use of only an imaginary 3-man ad-hoc delegates to the exclusion of the party’s statutory delegates in the primary elections to elect our candidates even when INEC, the nation’s electoral umpire, has unequivocally stated that no congress held in Abia State for that purpose, has no doubt put the party and her candidates in a quagmire”.
Part of the statement reads, “I Senator Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe will not be part of this charade.
“I am, therefore, withdrawing from the exercise, which means that I will not be part of the PDP governorship primary election that holds in Abia State on Wednesday 25th of May, 2022, as doing so would have amounted to endorsement of an illegality that is already being challenged in the courts.
“I, therefore, ask all our people, our teeming supporters and Ndigbo to remain calm, keep the faith and wait for the new direction, which will be announced very soon.
“What is important is that the campaign to liberate Abia State would surely assume a new dimension. The time is now.
“Unfortunately, the ugly developments ignited by a rapacious ambition to maintain the wicked governance status quo of imposition and godfatherism have aborted this quest in PDP.
“The implication for our party is grave and as such has put all ongoing primary exercises on quick sand”.
On his part, Senator Akpan in a letter to the Chairman, PDP, Akwa Ibom State, Uyo and dated May 24th, 2022, read, “I bring you warm felicitation and best regards. I am a member of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State, a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a screened/cleared aspirants to the Governorship primary election to elect the Party’s Gubernatorial candidate for the forth coming general elections in 2023 in Akwa Ibom State scheduled for May 25th, 2022.
“WHERAS: 1. My attention has been drawn to widely publicised notices dated and signed by the National Organising Secretary, Hon. Umar M. Bature, wherein, it was stated that by virtue of Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022, delegates to vote in the above mentioned primaries are the three (3) AD-HOC Delegates per ward, elected at the Ward Congresses and One (1) National Delegate per Local Government, elected at the Local Government Area Congresses.
“2. I am in possession of a subsisting court enrolled order in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/606/22 at the Federal High Court Abuja where the Honourable Court ordered amongst others that it will be in the interest of justice for the
parties to maintain status quo antebellum pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
“3. I am also aware that the Party was duly served with this Order on May 18th, 2022
“4. That the Party has filed an Appeal with the Court of Appeal, Abuja on May 19th, 2022 which has not been heard as at date, and also file an application for stay of order at the same Federal High Court, Abuja.
“5. I have been advised by my solicitors that a mere filing and or notice of an appeal at an upper court, and an application for the stay of order at the Federal High Court does not vacate or serve as a stay of the subsisting order of the lower court.
“6. I have also been advised by my solicitors that the conduct of the primaries with AD-HOC Delegates as proposed by the Party shall be in breach of the subsisting order and also a contempt of court with the consequences of nullifying the outcome of the primaries and therefore jeopardising the chances of our great Party fielding Candidates during the forth coming election
“7. I have also been advised that the Local Government Area Congresses that elected the One (1) National Delegate per Local Government, was largely made up of statutory delegates as voters as against the Electoral Act which dose not recognise statutory delegates as voters in such election.
“8. I am aware that the Party has resorted to this illegality due to the fact that the amended Electoral Act 2022 has not yet been signed into law by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
“Mr chairman sir, as a concerned party member, and an aspirants to the above stated Governorship Primary election of our great party, and a law abiding citizen, I feel oblige to request that the Party: i. Obey and comply with the order in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/606/22
“ii. Suspend the conduct of the forth coming primaries in Akwa Ibom State pending when the amended Electoral Act is signed into law by Mr President or until such a time the court would have heard and determine the above suit or in the alternative, explore other options as listed in the Electoral Act to conduct the Governorship Primary in Akwa Ibom State
“Consequent upon above sir, I convey to you my inability to take part in the scheduled primary election until such a time that the illegality mentioned herein is corrected. This is by no means a withdrawal of my aspiration from the Governorship contest of our great party. I am ready to stand the primary election anytime it is so scheduled in line with acceptable processes and in accordance with the laws of our nation.”