BY DAN OWEGIE
We saw it coming, we warned, but sadly our warning went unheeded, now the reality is on ground. It was no surprise, therefore that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries across the country has left in its trail, tales of sadness, protests, cries and threats. The outcome has shown the party as one lacking in democratic ethos and pathos. In Edo State, seven aggrieved aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party have called for the cancellation of the state house of assembly primary for Oredo Local Government Area.
Uyi Ogbemudia, daughter of former two-time governor of the defunct Mid-West State, General Sam Ogbemudia (retd), was declared winner of the Oredo West primary, while Mr. Lion Okoro was named as the winner in Oredo East. But the aspirants, in a statement recently, alleged that the process was characterised by “unwholesome interference and coercion of delegates, financial inducement, substitution of delegates, violence against aspirants, blackmail and treat of removal of perceived rigid ward chairman.”
They said “ the process was non-democratic, as we were not allowed to participate in a free and fair election.” They opined that the selection process was forced on them. The aggrieved aspirants, Clifford Igbinobia, Jefferson Uwoghiren, Princess Patricia Oghogho, Festus Okpiaebe, Osahon Imaru, Chief Sunny Erengbo and Prince Edobor Oghosa, attributed their alleged denial to participate in a free and fair primary to the interference of a chieftain of the party, whom they accused of sowing “disaffection within the party.”
Even the National Assembly primaries, heavy sums of money which would have been used to develop the country are being shared by PDP aspirants.
The Leopard is never known to change its skin as the PDP returned to its old ways of holding parallel primaries and announced results afterwards. That was the case in Anambra, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Delta states.
In Anambra, it was reported that materials for the party primaries never left the store until late in the evening of Saturday. But the various factions went ahead with the House of Assembly primary in different locations and produced results.
In Akwa Ibom six aspirants from Uruefong Oruko State Constituency protested the conduct of the party’s primary election. The aspirants are Ita Okpoyo, Edet Bassey, Paul Akaiso, Etifit Nkereuwem, Emmanuel Ating and Esin Otong. At a news conference in Uruefong following day, the aspirants described the conduct of the PDP primary election “as farce and complete rape on democracy.”
Okpoyo, who is the immediate past Assistant Legal Adviser to PDP in the state and aspirant, said the party office where the primary was supposed to be conducted was locked up. He said that all the aspirants had been ambushed as the purported primary was being conducted in Uyo stadium. This is even contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010.
The story is not anything different in Delta State as three of the four aspirants of the House of Assembly primary in Ethiope East, have warned the PDP against declaration of any result. In their separate petitions, dated November 29, 2014, entitled ‘’Abortion of House of Assembly Primaries Election in Ethiope East of Delta State for Lack of Availability of Result Sheets’’ and addressed to the Chairman, House of Assembly Primaries Committee, Bernard Ochepa, called for a new date for the primaries election. The petitioners are the incumbent occupier of the seat, Joseph Oshevire, Enamuotor Blessing and Godwin Demide.
The angry delegates while calling for the postponement of the primary upon production of a result sheet for the election, called on the Chairman to fix another date for the primary election to be supervised by credible personnel with complete materials including an original result sheet in order for Ethiope East PDP members to elect a candidate of their choice and not the imposition by Uduaghan as they suspect.
Not pleased with the sham called primary in their state, Abia Redemption Group, a coalition of pro-democracy groups in Abia State, condemned the alleged imposition of candidates by Governor Theodore Orji and his supporters.
At a briefing in Lagos, the coalition comprising Abia Coalition of Forces Against Impunity, Abia Group Campaigning Against Imposition of Candidates, Abia Youths for Change, Abia Progressive Force for Good Governance, Abia Force Against Rigging, Abia Liberators and Concerned Citizens of Abia warned that the development was capable of turning the electorate against PDP in the state.
In a statement entitled: “Absurdity Playing Out in PDP of Abia State,” the coalition said: “The various groups observed with shock and anger, the several breaches of the internal constitution of PDP as the party prepares its candidates for the general elections of 2015. By their internal electoral guideline, the party was supposed to conduct an election on November 1, 2014 for the three-man delegates preparatory for the primary elections for the state House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and governorship.
“It is on record that the delegate election did not take place as party members who turned out en masse to cast their votes were disappointed as no election officers and materials were seen in all the 17 local government areas of Abia State. Yet results were written and handed over to the committee that came from Abuja for the purpose of conducting that election. “In summary, election did not take place in Abia State on November 1 for the election of the three-man delegates. Despite the protests both in writing and orally to the leadership of the party in Abuja, they turned a blind eye and refused to look into the allegations of what took place on November 1, 2014.”
“As at today, almost 98 per cent, if not 100 per cent, of the candidates that are returned as candidates for the state House of Assembly in Abia State are either T. A. Orji’s personal assistants, commissioners or relations, including his son (popularly known as ‘Ikuku’) that is being programmed to take over the governorship position of the state by proxy after the election of 2015.” the group alleged.
Also, over 2000 members of the Peoples Democratic Party from Rivers State stormed the national headquarters of the party in Abuja to protest the alleged plan by the party and the Presidency to foist a former Minister of State(Education), Mr. Nyesom Wike on them as the party’s governorship candidate in the state.
The protesters also complained against perceived injustice meted out on them during the last PDP House of Assembly primaries in the state.
The protesters were said to have started arriving the secretariat as early as 6:30am and took over the entire premises of the secretariat even before the arrival of its members of staff.
Various placards were carried with inscriptions such as “Wike can’t be our Governor”, “We want clearance to contest 2015 elections”, “Give us back our money”, “We are tired of a two-man state exco”, “Felix Obuh must go”, “Wike has bought the soul of River PDP”, “Criminals have been cleared to be PDP aspirants in River State”, among others.
But on the contrary, the All Progressives Congress had no such bad news all over the country regarding its House of Assembly primaries. In Edo State, the Leadership of the party provided a level playing field for all the aspirants. The most popular candidates emerged in all the State House of Assembly constituencies. Winners and loosers alike praised the Edo State Comrade Governor, Adams Eric Oshiomhole for insisting on one delegate, one vote. Such a leadership saw him emerging beyond his expectations. The APC is ready to repeat this feat in all its primaries, including the National Convention that would produce its Presidential candidate.
The Nigerian electorate must be wise as we approach the 2015 general elections. In all fronts, the PDP has shown wanton waste of the nation’s hard earned resources trying to buy the conscience of voters. As the moment, nobody has taken the pains to investigate the sources of income of Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria that is wasting billions of naira on the campaign for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan. Nigerians need to question the group’s source of funding because the Federal Government has announced austerity measures which has already started taking its toll on essential goods and services.
As the yuletide season berths, prices of essential food stuffs and Christmas needs have been spiraling. By next year, the PDP government’s austerity measures will bite harder as Jonathan prepares to remove by 50 per cent subsidy on petroleum resources. This is already contained in the 2015 budget he sent to the National Assembly. The Finance Minister also corroborated this in announcing austerity measures to the nation. But no one of them is talking of measures to stop the huge daily wastages of public resources by the PDP in the on-going campaigns.
Nigerians need to vote wisely this time around. All Nigerians must pause and ponder why for 16 years the PDP has held sway at the centre electricity remains epileptic, federal roads remain death traps, hospitals remains mere consultancy clinics, more universities are being established for political reasons without equipping and funding existing ones, corruption has become synonymous with the name of our beloved country. It is only important that we use our votes to effect change at the centre. Nigerians must also be very determined to dismantle and degrade the rigging machine of the PDP across the country. Nigerians must not only come out to exercise their franchise in February next year, they must stand to defend their votes and ensure that the looters of our common wealth are shown the way out of power.
• Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo State.