The Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) has directed that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should conduct fresh congresses in its chapters in the following state: Delta, Bayelsa, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Plateau, Oyo and Kogi states.
This has brought about mixed reactions among the sitting executives of the party in the states .
According to reports , the party has finally bowed to pressure from INEC to conduct fresh congresses. The electoral umpire had rejected the State Executive Committees of the party in those states, describing the election that brought them into office as inconclusive.
PDP initially refused to yield to pressure from INEC to conduct the primaries in the eight states on the ground that the electoral umpire does not have the constitutional power to interfere in the internal affairs of political parties.
For example, in Enugu, the chairman of the PDP, Vita Abba, said yesterday that there was no directive dissolving his executive or asking the party in the state to conduct fresh congresses.
He stated that as far as the party was concerned he remains its authentic state chairman, stressing that there was no problem with the congress conducted two years ago that brought his team to power.
He said: “There is no cause for alarm; this is about the people and their choice. You can’t build a house and put tenants and tomorrow the tenants will turn back and say they have become your landlord.
It never happens. So as far as we are concerned we are still in charge and we don’t have any such directive for fresh congresses.
“If the national leadership wants a congress, there is a procedure to be followed and if there is going to be anything in Enugu, we will be formerly communicated. Congresses are not done on the pages of newspapers. The party has a way of doing things.”
Abba stated that the party has all the evidence to its claim that the congress conducted in the state that threw up his executive was authentic, stressing that the video tapes, documentations among others were still there for anybody to see.
In Delta, the fight for the soul of the PDP may not be unconnected with the clash between the political faithful of former Governor James Ibori and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark.
A PDP source who pleaded anonymity explained that Clark who has always been known to be against the choice of incumbent Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is not disposed to the latter’s second term.
The source said that the governor’s opponents are not happy with the mature manner the Peter Nwaoboshi-led executives had been handling the affairs of the party since he was elected at its congress on February 28, 2008 in Asaba.
He said: “Angry that the exco was instead playing a neutral role as they had expected the members to join them in turning the heat on the governor so as to frustrate his second term ambition, they felt that causing INEC to dissolve the exco was the perfect plan to get even with Nwaoboshi and the other exco members.
“What is happening is an attempt to crush the Delta PDP exco with Federal might. The root cause of fight is the second term ambition of the governor. The governor’s opponents expect Nwaoboshi to join them in fighting the governor instead of being neutral. His principled stand is the cause of his present problems.”
Last Monday, a Federal High Court, Abuja stopped INEC from causing the dissolution of the Delta PDP exco.
The source alleged that INEC’s decision not to recognise the current exco was as a result of pressure mounted on the Commission by some Abuja power brokers who are bent on frustrating Uduaghan.
He cited the example of neighbouring Edo State where there were parallel congresses by two rival factions of former Dr. Sam Ogbemudia and Chief Anthony.
According to him, the pressure on INEC was the real reason that the electoral umpire threw its weight behind the deceased former Edo Chairman of PDP, Chief Samson Ekhabafe who never contested at the congress.
The source said that it was harmonization of Ogbemudia’s and Anenih’s factions that gave birth to Ekhabafe’s Chairmanship in Edo State wondering why INEC has suddenly refused to recognise Nwaoboshi’s exco almost three years after the congress.
He queried: “Why should Delta case be differnt from Edo State? Why would just suddenly realize that a congress that ws conducted in February of 2008 was not proper? Why would Edo be treated differently from that of Delta State?”
According to him, it is more baffling that the current PDP Chairman in Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih who agreed to step down for Ekhabafe is recognised by INEC while the heat is being turned on Nwaoboshi.
On Delta, INEC’s Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Kaugama , had, in a memo unequivocally said: “The Congress was not acceptable as it failed to meet the requirements of the PDP Constitution and the 2007 Guidelines for the Congresses.”
But Nwaoboshi insisted that he was still the Chairman and that a duly held Congress produced him and other members of the exco.
He said: “I am the Delta State Chairman of the PDP. A Congress was held where I emerged as the Chairman. My position as Chairman is not in dispute.Those who hold contrary views are just out to cause confusion.”
At the congress, consensus and harmonization of the list of the various factions were the watchwords. Political horse-trading by the various gladiators meant that the harmonised list contained the names of their political sons.
The former Gen.
Paul Omu-headed Peace and Reconcilliation Committee had apparently ironed out the details of the deals and endorsed by the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Dr.Martin Oke.
But a governorship aspirant in Delta State, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege praised the decision of the national leadership of the PDP to conduct fresh congresses in eight states.
Omo-Agege in a statement on Wednesday praised the party “for harkening to the voice of majority of party members in the affected states.”
According to him, the move is bound to affect the fortunes of the party positively in next year’s election as the fresh primaries will ensure that the right people are put in charge of its affairs.
This, he said, will placate aggrieved members who felt that they had been shortchanged in the manner the maligned executive committees were put in place.
Some PDP members in Delta State had been in the forefront of the clamour for new party congress in view of what they described as the illegality of the Nwaobosi-led of the party in the state.
They had alleged that the state exco was imposed on the party in 2007 without ward, local or state congress when the Uduaghan assumed office.