Delta North Senatorial District Primaries Re-run: PDP Attempts a Mission Impossible
As delegates prepare for another round of the Delta North Senatorial District primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Friday, January 28, 2011, following controversies over the aborted primaries of January 11, 2011 where Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa emerged winner, the coast has remained hazy as it is not yet Uhuru for Dr. Okowa and his supporters.
But among some senatorial primaries to be re-conducted named by the National Publicity Secretary of the party Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, that of Delta North Senatorial District was not inclusive.
The affected senatorial districts were Delta Central, Oyo Central, Sokoto East, Bauchi North, Taraba Central, Adamawa South, Adamawa North, Kogi Central, Kogi East and Kogi West.
According to Prof. Alkali, 'The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has received and deliberated on the reports of the various panels set up to conduct the primaries of our great Party.
'The NWC has also deliberated on the petitions from various contestants across the Federation as well as the reports of our Appeal Committee set up specifically to look into complaints from aspirants.
'The NWC also received and deliberated on the reports from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who monitored the primaries.
'Consistent with the principled position of our great Party to provide a level playing field for all aspirants, and in view of the overall need to ensure continued unity and cohesion among the ranks and file of our members which is essential for us to achieve victory in the April 2011 General Elections, the NWC has resolved to conduct re-run primaries for the following gubernatorial and senatorial seats.
Despite the rumbles caused in the three Senatorial seats in Delta state, but that of Delta North has been raging with diverse complaints, grievances and confusion over alleged imposition of candidates by higher authorities.
In Delta North Senatorial District, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, presumed winner of the Senate primaries of January 11, 2011, an exercise which the State PDP Chairman, Barrister Peter Nwaoboshi has challenged as allegedly conducted with forged delegates list, daring issues still persists.
Delta state PDP chairman, Barrister Peter Nwoboshi had declared that, 'I wish to draw the attention of the National Chairman of the PDP, the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee, the entire PDP family in Delta State and the general public at large to the largely flawed primaries without the use of the authentic delegates list in most of the constituencies in Delta State.
'Most importantly, the purported Delta North senatorial primaries held at the Delta State Cenotaph, Asaba in the night hours of 11th January, 2011 is illegal, null and void'.
'The said caricature primaries was concocted, cooked and crafted by disgruntled elements who have engaged in the illegal primaries to save face, having failed to secure victory in the just concluded primaries and have chosen instead to deceive party members and loyalists with the charade.
'The purported primaries is illegal, ultravires and unconstitutional as the same is held without the consent, authority and mandate of the hierarchy of the party in Delta state.'
The other aspirants, including Hon. Ned Nwoko has also alleged that there was bias on the part of INEC. Prince Nwoko who is now the Democratic Peoples' Party (DPP) senatorial candidate for Delta North had said about the aborted Primaries that 'What you saw at the Cenotaph that night was a charade and make belief, the integrity of the election was put in doubt when they refused my point of view that we should authenticate the delegates' list.'
Reacting to the rumbles in Delta North Senatorial seat, Col. G. Eboma, who leads a faction of PDP in Delta State said he was not surprised that Dr. Okowa was elected because 'he is part of the ruling cabal and a consummate systems man who knows how to manipulate the system to his advantage'.
Col. G. Eboma has alleged that the former S.S.G. has been in power since 1999 as Commissioner for Works and later Health, 'what was he able to do for the people of Ika nation? Agbor, the pride of Ika man has not seen any tangible infrastructural development or urban renewal in the past 36 years. He may have added a few structures to the old general hospital in Agbor and tarred a few roads in his home town. Owa Alero, the bridge on Orogodo river is just being repaired, in the two months of Prince Sam Obi as Acting Governor, yet money has always been appropriated in the budget. The old Lagos Asaba road was a death trap before the coming of Sam Obi. Erosion has ravaged our land'
As it now stands
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has however been told to conduct fresh senatorial primary in Delta Central where Chief Ighoyota Amori was declared winner while in Delta South the incumbent Senator, James Manager retained the PDP ticket and set for another battle with former House of Representatives member, Ms. Temi Harriman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
It is recalled that in the highly competitive Delta North Senatorial primary, Dr. Okowa got a total of 942 votes to defeat Dr. Cairo Ojougboh from Ika South who polled 286 votes and Prince Ned Nwoko from Aniocha North who got 78 votes. Dr. Maryam Alli from Oshimili South scored a paltry 18 votes leaving Mr. Kingsley Nwaonye only two votes.
The returning officer in the aborted primaries, Engr. Terry Noah who had insisted that the primaries should take place even when Prince Ned Nwoko raised objections that the time of commencement of the event made it difficult for the aspirants to verify and authenticate the delegates, even though it was alleged that the process had been doctored at the National Secretariat of the PDP.
The development has also put paid to speculations that Dr. Maryam Ali was alleged to have been chosen as the preferred candidate because her husband, Dr. Ahmadu Ali as the former national chairman of PDP, enthroned Barrister Peter Nwaoboshi as Delta State Chairman of the Party.
The non relenting Dr. Mrs. Alli was also said to be a close friend of Dame Patience Jonathan, the first Lady. This trend has also made the incumbent, Senator Patrick Osakwe to tactically withdraw from the race because according to sources 'he was convinced beyond doubt that the PDP party hierarchy in the State, want to reward Dr. (Mrs.) Ali with the ticket even when she failed to deliver her Oshimili south local government during the rerun election.'
Mrs. Ali, it will be recalled, failed to get the Delta North PDP senatorial ticket in 2007, due to the deft political manoeuvrings orchestrated by the governor then, Chief James Ibori and after the emergence of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as governor in 2007, he sought to pacify the factions within the party. The peace initiative by Governor Uduaghan resulted in the emergence of Nwaoboshi, a loyalist of Mrs. Ali, as current state PDP chair and reasons why Nwaoboshi's current move to re-pay his indebtedness to Mrs. Ali has remained his good judgment.
A group, backed by Admiral Mike Onah (rtd), Senator Francis Nwajei, ex-Deputy Governor Simoen Ebonka, and other highly placed political leaders in Delta North has come out to support Okowa's bid to fly the party's flag come April.
According to them, 'We are forced to react to Nwaoboshi's consistent inconsistencies with regard to the most transparent, flawless, peaceful, well attended, free, fair and nationally televised senate primary in Delta North Senatorial District from the night of January 11, to the early hours of January 12, 2011.'
Political pundits are of the opinion that should Uduaghan sell out on Okowa, he may have a hard time winning the support of Anioma voters in the April polls, given the political antecedents of Okowa in Delta North politics.