JONATHAN DIDN'T STOP FRESH PDP CONGRESSES IN ENUGU, SAYS NEW EXCO
By Tony Edike
THE newly elected executive committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Enugu State declared Monday that the fresh congresses of the party held at ward, local government and state levels last week were in compliance with the directive of the party's National Working Committee, NWC.
The committee said leaders of the party in the state were not aware of any directive by President Goodluck Jonathan to suspend the congresses.
State Chairman of the party, Mr. Okey Ogbonna, who made this known while briefing reporters after the inaugural meeting of the new executive committee at the party's secretariat in Enugu, maintained that the harmonization agreement reportedly brokered by President Jonathan for the two warring parties was not communicated to them, neither were they present at the peace meeting purportedly held in Abuja.
Besides, he said it was difficult for anybody to believe that the president, who is an advocate of 'one-man, one-vote', would go to the extent of jettisoning the fresh congresses ordered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and direct the two political camps to harmonize the party executives.
Ogbonna, who said the present executive committee under his leadership was constitutionally elected, declared that the party's constitution made no provision for harmonization of the executive committee, insisting that the idea couldn't have emanated from the president.
His words: 'The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not the INEC and he is not the PDP, even though he is a member of PDP. I know Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a man who is knowledgeable enough to know the constitution of the party and the law of the country. And I am sure that he did not direct Enugu State chapter of PDP to harmonize its executive. We believe this is just name-dropping.
'How can the president who is saying one-man, one vote say that we should not go to congress that we should harmonize? Where is harmonization in the party's constitution? In party congresses, aspirants for executive positions could say they are stepping down for another contestant and there must be an agreement between the parties involved, but when people talk about harmonization in Enugu PDP, it does not exist anywhere.'
'The president is aware that INEC had consistently insisted that the inconclusive congresses of the party in eight states of Nigeria including Enugu should be concluded before the forthcoming elections and it is clear to everybody that this is the right thing to do. Everybody including you pressmen are aware that INEC had written several letters to the party on this issue and you come back to tell me that the President ordered that there should be harmonization and at the same time the party sent in the Congress Committee members that conducted the congresses, and INEC supervised the congress. Both the police and the SSS were present and they wrote their reports.
'Up till now the president never told anybody neither has he written anybody to say that aspirants to the party's executive positions should not aspire again instead they should go and harmonize. We aspired, got to the congresses and people voted for us and we emerged. I do not believe the story that the president stopped the congress. It is not true.'
The PDP Chairman, however, urged all aggrieved persons within the party to embrace peace and be law-abiding so that the party could make progress in the state, assuring that the new leadership would provide a level-playing ground for all members and those seeking elective positions unlike the previous practice whereby over 80 percent of the party's candidates were imposed on the members.
'Anybody in Enugu State who is saying that we should not hold congresses so that PDP will not have candidate in forthcoming elections is not fair to the party. The new executive of PDP in the State has an open-door policy. Everybody in Enugu State even if you are in APGA, Action Congress of Nigeria or wherever, the new executive is ready to dialogue with them. All the supporters of our Governor, who incidentally is a PDP Governor, are welcome. All our members that are not happy are free to come back for dialogue,' Ogbonna said.
Meanwhile, the party's House of Assembly primary election slated for yesterday was suspended following a directive from the NWC even though the new state party executive said it had effectively mobilized its members for the exercise.