The recent People’s Democratic Party primaries that produced the party flag bearers in the forth-coming local government election in Enugu State slated for November 4,2017 were received with mixed reactions from party faithfuls, and followers. To many observers, it was an experiment of a new political business model laced with rancor-free proposition.
On the other hand, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state seems to have conceded victory to PDP before the election date. Some of the APC big-wigs in the state have struck understanding with the PDP leadership to have their choice candidates in APC installed as elected chairmen in the forthcoming local government election, as even some APC candidates and stakeholders have reached out to the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu for sponsorship, a request he has obliged. MMS Plus gathered that he had directed disbursement of funds after some preliminary investigation on the candidates. The fund is being disbursed through Comrade Ayodele Adewale, former Chairman, Amuwo -Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
While some described the exercise as a totalitarian approach to democracy, a return of god-fatherism, a legendary model of conspiracy against democracy and a mockery of democracy, others called it the most fruitful, the best that could happen to democracy, and a good measure to avoid wastage and reckless spending.
Samuel Nnamani, an aggrieved member of PDP who spoke to MMS Plus has this to say: “The chairmanship primaries in the forth coming local government election in Enugu State is a symbol of rejected order being manifested again.
“It is a totalitarian approach to our nascent democracy where everything is controlled by the government in power. There is no breaking loose from Egypt. It is a sign that PDP in the state is going back to Egypt.
“All the trapping of democracy, and democratic principles were lacking in the exercise. The primaries were hijacked by the leadership of the party in the state. It was designed to keep a certain group down and exploit that group politically for the advantage of another”.
A chairmanship aspirant and a political scientist who did not want his name in print described the exercise as “a legendary model of conspiracy against democracy, a return of godfatherism and a mockery of democracy. He continued: What is the political justice as regards the just concluded primaries in the state. A situation where aspirants were not allowed to purchase forms for the election. It lacks all the political liberalism.
“The primaries as far as I am concerned was never ‘a game of perfect information’. Most of the opinions of major stakeholders in the local government areas as regards to some aspirants were jettisoned by the leadership of the party at state level. Those who control the party at the state level had made their minds on the certain categories of aspirants before the primaries.
“The leadership of the party at state level would have played a chess-game which is a game of perfect information. It is fully defined by the rules on what constitutes a legal move and what constitute winning”.
He explained that the exercise was a stage -managed arrangement where some stakeholders in the local government areas were playing the script of the party leadership at the state level, “forgetting that power belong to the people”.
MMS Plus learnt that across the 17 local government areas of the state, candidates were imposed on the party members by the leadership of the party.
From Enugu North Senatorial district, the East, and down to the West, the story was the same and similar.
In Nsukka Local Government Area, it was gathered that the party leadership at the state level wanted to impose the immediate past transition chairman, Rose Onah on the people, but the stakeholders at the local government insisted that she should be removed.
However, it was revealed that to MMS Plus that when Patrick Omeje emerged as the party flag bearer, for Nsukka Local Government Area, the leadership of the party in the state had their way.
Omeje Romanus told MMS Plus that “we were very surprised when we heard his name”.
In Igbo-Etiti Local Government Council, the story, was almost the same. 11 aspirants including the transition chairman contested for the position. It was disclosed to MMS Plus that majority of the major stakeholders in Igbo-Etiti Local Government were not comfortable with the then transition chairman including servicing government functionaries.
According to them, the then transition chairman was running the Council like a private company and his interface with stakeholders was absolutely bad.
In a meeting (not election) that decided the party flag bearer in Igbo-Etiti Local Government, the chairman of the party in the Area, Nkechi Ugwuoju who was alleged to be playing a script from the state leadership of the party had asked other to aspirants to step down for Malachy Agbo, the then transition chairman.
The former Governor of Enugu State Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo who was in attendance made an outstanding observation.
He said: “In an election where some aspirants were asked to step down, there must be an agreement reached between the person stepping down and the winner to be as the case may be.
“It is either that the person they are stepping down for has promised to carry them along in his administration through appointments, or any other ways of settling them. There must be an agreement for stepping down”. MMS Plus learnt that the observation of the former Governor was never addressed at the meeting. “It was ignored”.
A chairmanship aspirant in Igbo-Etiti Local Government who preferred not to be mentioned described the recent PDP primaries in Enugu as “a merchandised affair where almost all the transition chairmen were returned as executive chairmen”.
Continuing he said: “I am very sure that some water must have passed under the bridge. How can the state government sponsor an amendment of a law that prohibits transition chairmen from contesting local government election.
“It was a red signal that tells the story that the government has made her mind in returning almost all the transition chairmen after spending more than 18 months in office. Where has it happened in the political history of Enugu State?”
The same old story of imposition of candidate played well in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Council. It was revealed that the candidate that emerged in Igbo-Eze South, Fidelis Odo, a former transition chairman does not hail from the zone that supposed to produce chairmanship candidate.
MMS Plus discovered that the leadership of the party at the state level jettisoned the zoning arrangement in Igbo-Eze Local Government Area.
MMS Plus further learnt that it was the South West zone in Igbo-Eze South Local Government that would have produced the current chairmanship candidate of PDP if all things had been equal.
MMS Plus investigation revealed that Fidelis Odo hails from the South East zone of Igbo-Eze Local Government. His candidature was described as an imposition.
In Aninri Local Government Area, it was a story of the Ekweremadus exhibiting their political powers. While the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu preferred Uche Ekwe ,the former transition chairman, his younger brother, Mathias Ekweremadu, a member of Enugu State House of Assembly, preferred another aspirant, Amos Ochin.
When it became too difficult for the Ekweremadus to agree on a candidate, unknown person, Ezekiel Chukwu emerged. The emergence of Ezekiel Chukwu was anointed by the Deputy Senate President.
Ezekiel Chukwu, MMS Plus discovered was a President General of Oduma General Assembly (Enugu branch) and a member, charismatic renewal.
It was gathered that Ezekiel Chukwu’s emergence sparked demonstration in the area. The protesting demonstrators noted that Ezekiel Chukwu “is not a registered member of PDP, and he has no party card”.
One interesting scenario in Enugu West Senatorial District, MMS Plus learnt, was that the leadership of the party in the state left the selection of candidates in the area in the hands of major stakeholders in the zone.
In Oji River Local Government, the immediate past Deputy Chairman emerged Ekweremadu’s camp. Stakeholders in Oji River Local Government protested but their efforts yielded negative results.
Also in Nkanu West, the home of former Governor, Chimaroke Nnamani, MMS Plus checks revealed that the state leadership of the party refused to honour and respect their former godfather whose candidate lost to Henry Okenwa.
It was discovered that the former governor had appealed to the state leadership of the party to anoint his ‘boy’ for the local government election, but his plea was rejected.
In almost all the local government areas: Enugu South (Sunday Ugwu), Enugu North (Emma Onoh), Enugu East (Alex Ugwu), Nkanu East/Uchechukwu Ibeagu) Isi-Uzo (Ben Edeoga), Udi/Emeka Ochin among others witnessed protests as a result of alleged imposition of candidates.
Reacting to the outcome of the primaries in the state, the state chairman of PDP, Augustine Nnamani described the exercise as peaceful and model in any democratic setting.
He explained that all the candidates that emerged in the primaries were saleable and credible.
Also in his own reaction, the Zonal Chairman of PDP in Enugu North Senatorial District, Nze Michael Onyeze told MMS Plus that the primary was best ever produced in the state.
He pointed out that the primaries were purely internal arrangement of the party which succeeded in making the exercise free and fair.
Hon. Onyeze explained that in order to make democracy thrive, “we must make consultations among party members in order to arrive at a peaceful resolution of any issue, “and that is what happened during the primaries”.
He noted that with the peaceful conduct of primaries in the state, it would be difficult for any other party to wrestle power from PDP.
Also in his own reaction, Innocent Ugwuele one of the chairmanship aspirants Igbo-Etiti Local Government urged other aspirants to support the flag bearers, because according to him, the party’s decision is final and supreme.
He explained that what the leadership of the party did was to avoid wastage of money among the aspirants, and also to avoid unnecessary creation of political enemies and rancours.
However, the APC model of candidates emergence is slightly different because all aspirants purchased forms and primaries held but flag bearers emerged in line with party or stakeholders’ interests.
Nonetheless, speaking with MMS Plus, the Enugu state APC’s Public Relations Officer(PRO), Ms Kate Offor said that primaries were held in all the wards in the 17 local government areas of the state, using option A4
According to the Chairman of APC in Igboetiti LGA, Barr. Best Aro, the party had a consensus arrangement. A meeting was held at the house of the former Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odo, where Barr. Mathew Asogwa was picked against Engr. Mathias Eloka.
Some of the current LGA Transition Chairmen in Enugu State anointed by APC party chieftains include: Uche Ede, Enugu South Local Government Area, anointed by Senator Ken Nnamani; Mr. Sabastine Okeke, Awgu LGA, anointed by Mr. Baywood Ibeh, a dredging contractor from Isuawa.
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