PROTESTS TRAIL ENUGU PDP PRIMARIES
By TONY EDIKE
THE conduct of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, primaries in Enugu State by only members of Governor Sullivan Chime's faction has continued to generate protests from aggrieved members and gubernatorial aspirants of the party who complained that they were disenfranchised and would seek redress in court.
Following the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan in the rift between the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, and Governor Sullivan Chime, the two parties reportedly agreed to share candidates that would contest various elective positions in the state, while the governorship ticket should be reserved for Chime.
Under the peace pact, Chime was allowed to produce all the candidates for the State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and the Senate in Enugu East and Enugu West senatorial zones while Nwodo was asked to nominate all the candidates from his Enugu North senatorial zone (Nsukka zone) without the normal party primaries.
Besides the decision to share elective positions, the president and the two leaders adopted the dissolved Mr. Vita Abba-led Executive Committee of the party loyal to Governor Chime as the body that would produce delegates for the party primaries in Enugu East and Enugu West zones despite the emergence of fresh party executives at the ward, local government and state levels from the congresses conducted by the Nwodo group on December 29, 30 and 31 last year.
However, the primaries conducted by the Vita Abba-led executive in the two senatorial zones ceded to Chime and the alleged handpicking of candidates by Nwodo in Enugu North have led to a major protest by those who were disenfranchised by the sharing formula adopted by the governor and the PDP boss.
One of the governorship aspirants from Enugu North, Barr. Okey Ezea, yesterday, faulted the conduct of the gubernatorial primaries only by Chime's group on Wednesday, insisting that the prmaries remained a nullity, having been conducted by an illegal executive of the party.
'I wish to once again dissociate myself, Barr Okey Ezea from the charade and illegality that took place. The truth is that the faction of PDP that orchestrated the show of shame had since been outlawed by INEC and the PDP National Working committee. Fresh Congresses were ordered on 27th December 2010, and were conducted on 29th, 30th and 31st December 2010, and proper Executives were elected from Ward, Local Government to State levels.
'It is therefore unthinkable that an illegal Executive that was confirmed non-existent by the Court of Appeal on 23rd December 2010, should turn round to pretend to conduct Primaries in Enugu State. I refused to lend my honourable self to dignify such an illegality,' Ezea stated in a statement issued in Enugu yesterday.
He maintained that 'only the Executives led by Chief Caesar Okey Ogbonna is known to law, being a product of the due process, the PDP constitution, and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as such only Primaries conducted by this Executive is acceptable being in accordance with the law.'
The Chairman Senate Committee on Information, Senator Ayogu Eze whose return ticket and that of all members of the State and National Assemblies from Nsukka zone were ceded to Nwodo under the peace pact, also protested the non-conduct of primaries in the zone yesterday.
He dismissed as untrue media reports that some candidates were elected from the zone, saying no primary election took place in various constituencies in the zone as Nwodo single-handedly handpicked the candidates.
He said: 'My attention has been drawn to reports in the media alleging that a senatorial candidate, candidates for the House of Representatives and Enugu State House of Assembly have been nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the Enugu North Senatorial District.
'This is false as no primaries took place in the district because of a strange arrangement which vested Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo with the sole right of hand-picking nine state assembly members, three house of representatives members and one senator, being all the elective positions in the district.
'This is clearly alien to the constitution of the PDP and contravenes Section 87(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010. Dr. Nwodo cannot usurp the rights of over 2,000 delegates from the district to determine who their representatives should be. We are convinced that the PDP being a responsible body shall take steps to conduct proper primaries within the district so that the people's franchise to freely elect their representatives shall be restored to them.'
Senator Eze pointed out that the consequence of continuing with the undemocratic process of hand-picking candidates 'is well known to us, unless the party does not want to present candidates for the April 2011 general elections.
'We have implicit confidence in the National Working Committee, NWC, of our great party and we know that they will do the right thing to conform to the constitution and guidelines of our party and section 87(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010.
'For the avoidance of doubt primaries are yet to be conducted in the district and all jokers and pretenders, handpicked by Dr. Nwodo should be discountenanced as their claim of being nominated candidates is only a figment of the imagination of day-dreamers,' the Senate spokesman said.