A repeat of the 2019 political twist in Zamfara State is looming in Abia State in 2023, elders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and governorship aspirants of the party have warned.
While the All Progressives Congress (APC) which was the sitting party in Zamfara State, won virtually all the National and state elections, the opposition PDP benefitted from judicial pronouncements all the way to the Supreme Court to have a clean sweep, producing the Governor, and members of the National and State assemblies.
The courts ruled that the APC did not conduct valid primaries in the build up to the 2019 general elections in Zamfara State and therefore had no candidates. All the victories of APC were voided and given to PDP candidates where they emerged as runners-up.
In a unanimous judgment on 24th May 2019, just four days to the assumption of office by a new government, the five-member panel of the Supreme Court stated that a party that had no valid candidate could not be said to have emerged winner of the general elections.
In a statement on Sunday by the PDP stalwarts in Abia State, they said that no valid primary was conducted to elect the party candidates for the 2023 general elections.
The party leaders included governorship aspirants and other notable elders. Senate Minority Leader and former Deputy Governor of the state, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; the Deputy Governor of the state, Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu; former state chairman of the party, Senator Emma Nwaka were among the governorship aspirants who signed the statement.
Others governorship aspirants were Dr Chima Anyaso, Chief Ncheta Omerekpe, Chief Sampson Orji and Chief Enyinnaya Nwafor.
Also involved in the agitation are a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; former Senate President Adolphus Wabara; House of Representatives member, Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta; Dr Eme Okoro, Chief Charles Ogbonna and Barrister David Iro.
They warned of what they called the “impending destruction of PDP in Abia State”.
The group recalled that the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) scheduled congresses for 30th April, which failed to hold because of a restraining order on the NWC.
According to the team, the congresses were then rescheduled for 4th May on the ground that the previous court order had been vacated. But the “congresses did not hold as well and this is not in dispute”.
“What is in dispute”, they wrote, “is that whereas, the majority of faithful party members in Abia State were waiting for the National Chairman and Secretary of PDP to reschedule the congresses and inform INEC (the Independent National Electoral Commission) accordingly, an individual and his acolytes simply wrote a list of adhoc delegates across the 184 wards of Abia State which they are pushing the NWC to accept as the authentic list of adhoc delegates in Abia State. The implication is that this individual will singularly determine all 24 individuals who will emerge as candidates for the 24 state constituencies of Abia State because having 100 per cent control of the adhoc delegates already gives him over 40 per cent of the votes for each of the congresses before the events even hold.
“Similarly, this individual and his acolytes will determine all eight candidates of the party for the House of Representatives, all three candidates for the Senate and, of course, who becomes Governor of Abia State in 2023. Abia State will be in the pocket of one individual if this is allowed to happen. Nothing like this has ever occurred in Abia State before.
“Many well-meaning and loyal members of the PDP in Abia State have sounded the alarm about this development. It is inconceivable that an individual who has taken the benefit of the platform of the party wants to leave a legacy of total destruction of the PDP which is what is invariably about to occur because the issues are very clear.
“These unconscionable cabal falsely claim that congresses held in Abia State when every truthful person in the state generally and PDP members in particular, know that no congresses held anywhere in Abia State. In order to give oxygen to their lie, they got the State Chairman of the PDP, Rt. Hon. Alwell Asiforo Okere, Ph.D, to concoct a letter dated the 4th May 2022 when the botched rescheduled congress was initially fixed, addressed to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Umuahia purportedly conveying the list of the committee members to conduct the imaginary congresses fixed for 6th May 2022. This Notice was purportedly received by the REC on the 5th May 2022. In law, Notices take effect on the date they are received. Thus the REC (not INEC) received a day’s Notice of the sham Congress going by the records of the cabal”.
They warned that all the actions were illegal and have dire consequences for the party in the general elections.
“All of these are to no effect. The Law is very clear: Only the National Chairman and National Secretary of a political party can communicate with INEC at their National Headquarters in respect of congresses, primaries and conventions. Neither the State Chairman of a party nor the REC of INEC have any role in the matter and so the said congresses of 6th May 2022 are dead on arrival and pig-headedly insisting on using the phantom list of delegates will only deal a death-blow to the PDP”.
The group pointed out that “INEC has been given powers by the Constitution to determine the rules for how political parties should conduct their congresses, meetings, primaries and conventions and have made subsidiary legislation accordingly. These are contained, among others, in the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations, 2018”.