Enugu 2015: How disagreement among PDP Election Committee members hindered Ward Congress
By Chibota Edozie
There are indications that disagreement among the members of the Enugu State Election Committee constituted by National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday affected the conduct of the scheduled ward congress of the party in the State, THE CITIZEN learnt.
According to a reliable source at the PDP National Secretariat who pleaded anonymity, it was said that the election committee that was supposed to conduct the Ward Congress in Enugu could not agree on the modalities for the congress and who in the state should be the anchor person.
THE CITIZEN learnt that the trouble started when the Committee chairman, AIG Mohammed Abbas (Rtd) was handed over the electoral materials for the Enugu congress at the Wadata House, but the other members of the committee refused to follow him to the airport to join a chartered private jet already waiting at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport as early as 8am on Saturday.
It was alleged that the election committee Secretary, Alhaji Usman Shehu demanded that he should be given the materials instead of the chairman but when the chairman refused to release the election materials to him, he, along with other members including Chief Roland Guobadia, Chief Ken Egba, and Dr. Henry Adagaba, refused to leave the Party Secretariat for Enugu.
'The disagreement started with the election committee members who could not agree on who should be the rightful person among them that should be in the custody of the materials, whether it should be the chairman or the secretary and whom they should deal with in Enugu.
'But for other states, it was the chairman that signed for the election materials and the Enugu case should not be an exception. So based on this disagreement among the two principal members of the committee, none of them could leave for Enugu to conduct the ward congress,' the source stated.
It was also gathered that the division followed an allegation over perceived loyalty to the two opposing camps in Enugu PDP.
THE CITIZEN was reliably told that while the chairman, Abbas, had tacit support for Enugu State Governor, Barrister Sullivan Chime's led State Working Committee, it was said that the Secretary, Shehu, was supporting the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu-led faction.
According to the source, it took the intervention of the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu who was drawn into the matter much later in the day for the Enugu Ward congress to be put on hold until further notice when a new date is fixed.
'The issue dragged on until the charted aircraft that was billed to fly the election committee members to Enugu was sent to pick Governor Chime to Abuja to have an audience with the National Chairman. It was after their meeting that it was learnt that a new date will be announced later after the fundamental issues affecting the functioning of the committee were resolved,' he said.
While the disagreement was raging in Abuja, the two factions of the PDP executive committee in Enugu were giving different accounts of the event.
The Elder David Aja-led State Executive Committee of the party claimed that the Ward Congresses was conducted in the 266 Electoral Wards in Enugu State on Saturday; while the Chief Ikeje Asogwa faction claimed that the congress election did not hold, therefore, no result could have been produced, adding that the general public will be briefed when a new date is announced.
But in a statement credited to Aja on Saturday, he was quoted as saying that the election was hitch-free as party members trooped out en masse to elect the three-man delegates.
'Party members converged at the designated centres Saturday morning where they elected the delegates of their choice, who would participate in the State House of Assembly, National Assembly and Governorship primaries to be held later in month.
'It was observed at various wards that the party faithfuls conducted themselves in a peaceful manner and participated actively in the exercise, which many described as a family affair.
'The Acting State Chairman, Elder David Aja, told reporters after the exercise that field reports he received indicated that the congresses were successfully conducted across the state without any hitch.
'As you are aware, the Congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 266 Electoral Wards of Enugu State were held today where three-man delegates were elected by our members in the various wards.
'The congresses were held at designated centres in the wards and they were very peaceful, successful, and indeed witnessed massive turnout of party faithful. We are happy with the manner our members conducted themselves and this has shown that our great party is marching into the coming elections with every determination to give PDP the needed victory', Aja said.
However, the Asogwa led faction in its statement said that the ward congress of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) slated to hold today (Saturday) throughout the federation did not hold in Enugu as planned. A statement issued by Dr. Okey Eze, Publicity Secretary of PDP Enugu State Chapter on Saturday stated that no Ward congress of the Party in Enugu State had officially commenced in the State as at 4 30pm.
'The State Party Secretariat has been opened and ready for the congress since 7am today, no member of the Electoral Panel from the National Secretariat of the Party has reported to our Party Office at N0. 1 Chime Lane, G.R.A, Enugu, the venue officially designated by the National Secretariat of our Party for the commencement and coordination of all the Congresses and Party Primaries.' 'It is pertinent to note that the Deputy Governor of the State, His Excellency, Rev. Ralph Nwoye, the National, Zonal, State and Local Government Area Executives of the Party and all the 17 Local Government Chairmen including thousands of other Party faithful and our teeming supporters have been waiting tirelessly at the State Party Secretariat for the arrival of electoral materials from Abuja and proper commencement of the ward congress but report available to us is that the ward congress committee panel from the National Secretariat are still in Abuja. 'The State Chapter wishes to state that this unfortunate development is the handiwork of those who are dangling in the euphoria of unpopularity and are bent on exploiting all undemocratic measures to scuttle the Ward congress of the Party, through mischief and manipulation of the entire process. 'Our members and supporters are ever ready to participate fully in the congresses through a transparent and democratic process where every member will be given the opportunity to test his or her popularity at the polls. 'We therefore alert the public and the National Leadership of our Party that no legitimate ward congresses took place in Enugu State today and any such activity to the contrary is illegal, fraudulent and must be disregarded,' the party said.
The statement further said that the State Party Leadership had therefore invited the National Working Committee of the Party to take appropriate action on the matter.
All efforts by THE CITIZEN to reach Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP National Spokesman, for his comments proved abortive as at press time.