Abia PDP holds ward primaries, set for local government election

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 1 January 1970 | 9,639 times

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Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has served notice of its readiness for the local government elections scheduled to hold in the state on December 17, 2016, with the conduct of successful Ward primary elections. The essence of the ward primary held last Friday, October 21 was to choose councillorship candidates who will fly the flag of the party during the council polls.

Reports reaching News Express indicate that the exercise was generally peaceful though not devoid of tension and protests. Members of the party from the 292 Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC) wards trooped out en masse to participate in the primary to elect councilloship candidates and three ad-hoc delegates from each of the wards through the Prof. Humphrey Nwosu-invented Option A4. The elected ad-hoc delegates are entrusted with the responsibility of electing chairmanship candidates of the party during the local government primaries expected to hold this week.

As directed by the party leadership in the state, the use of Option A4 which entails supporters queuing behind the candidates of their choice, did not deter the party faithful from participating in the exercise. However, the exercise was characterised by late arrival of officials and materials.

Our reporter who monitored the primaries in Abia Central Senatorial Zone reports that as at 2pm on the election day, officials charged with the conduct of the exercise in Ajata na Igu Ward in Oboro, Ikwuano Local Government Area were yet to arrive. But the party faithful were seen in their large numbers waiting patiently.

The ward chairman, Godwin Nwosu, told newsmen that two councillorship aspirants, Obinna Agodi and Chidiebere Onyekwere, both from Umuezeukwu town where the position was zoned to, were standing for election. Nwosu said they were comfortable with the Option A4 stipulated for the primary, adding that they were expecting no trouble.

The situation was different at Umuosu-Umunna Nsulu Ward in Isiala Ngwa North where there was suspense due to non-arrival of materials up till about 4 pm. Red-eyed, rough-looking young men who dominated the voting centre were predictably ready to do battle with anyone who caused the delay or who may be trying to thwart the exercise. One Councillorship aspirant alleged that the delay was deliberate and a ploy to write a fictitious result and forward same to the party but he swore that the people's will must prevail.

There was tension also at Ubakala Ward 8 in Umuahia South Local Government Area but the most interesting thing was that political heavy weights from the area were on hand to defuse the tension which arose over disagreement on the best method to conduct accreditation of members before voting could take place. Two politicians of note spotted at the centre were Deacon Charles Ekwueme, a former Transition Committee Chairman of the Council and Engr. Neighbour Onwukamike.

Ekwueme who offered explanations on the development blamed it on diverse interests. Said he: “What is happening is not new in politics, especially on a day like this. The problem here is, we have a register, and according to an instruction by the party, only those whose names are in the register will be accredited and allowed to vote.

“And what we are trying to say is now, with this crowd, we have over 500 names in the register, how do we identify them. We now said okay, what we need to do is to call on the immediate past

Ward chairman and Secretary to help the present Ward Chairman in the accreditation.

“Why we are saying that is that the immediate past Chairman and Secretary were the ones that registered these people. This present Ward Chairman has not registered anybody. We are only saying these two persons should aid him, he is still there, leading, but let these two other persons assist him so that if there is anyone he doesn’t know, these other two who are the ones that registered these people would assist him, to say, yes, this is the person or not the person.

“And it is a very simple thing, there is no need to cause any trouble. It is just for them to agree that these three persons identify who these names are so that you don’t allow an impostor to vote. You know, somebody might just answer somebody else’s name and you are not a computer that only you will know everybody. The best thing there is that there should be an assistance.

“Then, myself and Engr. Neighbour, when there is now a serious misunderstanding, will come in and identify the village where the person comes from because all of us come from one village or

the other. We can sort it out. It is only that there are diverse interests here, so this one would be protecting his interests and the other one would be protecting his interest, but I believe that at the end, with understanding, we would do this thing here peacefully.”

When asked if the party does not issue identity cards to members upon registration, he said the party issues but that the guideline to use the register for the primary was to weed out those who may have procured fake membership cards.

“A new member is issued with a party card after being registered but I think there must be a reason why the party said don’t just mind people carrying card because there might be fake cards, but look at the register, which they gave to these people who have come to coordinate the primary. So, when they call, people will come out. If you are not the one, people are there to say, no, this is not the person. When there is such argument, that is why we are saying this three persons, headed by the present Ward Chairman, should identify them while we are there watching.

But is the current ward chairman open to this suggestion? Ekwueme was asked. He replied: “I think that is the reason why there is fracas. He wants to do it alone, which, yes, for capability, we are not doubting his capability; he is okay. But because we don’t want to sleep here, we have suggested that people should assist him. As of right, yes, he is right, but with understanding, he should also allow people to aid him so that we can leave here.”

He said they were adhering to the zoning arrangement of the party, adding: “In this ward, zoning has never been our problem. This moment, it is zoned to Avodim and the two councillorship aspirants today are from Avodim Ubakaala and their names are Mrs. Helen Okechukwu and Mrs. Maureen Emenike.”

The two female aspirants also spoke to News Express.

Lolo Maureen Emenike, in her assessment, commended party members for good conduct. “Well, so far, so good. There has been appropriate conduct on the part of party members. So, I hope they will be orderly all through because, I don’t pray that there should be any disruption of the voting process,” she said.

Mrs. Emenike blamed the delay in the commencement of the exercise on late arrival of materials and also made allusions that “some people just don’t want to obey the rules of the game.”

Her opponent, Mrs. Okechukwu Helen Chidinma, expressed hope that God was in control of the entire process. “I know that God is in control. We can’t force anything but God is in charge. That is all I can say,” she quipped, “I don’t have any fear in me about the whole process.” 

What happened in Ubakala and Umunna Nsulu may have happened in several other wards.

In Umuahia Urban, the exercise was smooth and ended early. This was facilitated by concensus and harmonisation adopted by the party in most wards in the state capital.

By the time News Express visited Ugba Na Nkata Ward at about 5pm, the exercise had been concluded. Participants who were seen at the Umuahia North local government headquarters where results were being collated, were full of praises for the state party executive for not interfering in the Ward Primary.

Comrade Eze David Okwulehie from Umuahia Urban Ward 1 who was elected as an ad-hoc delegate, said the polling in his ward was hitch-free. “The Ward primary in urban Ward 1went well. It was a free and fair election,” he said. “If PDP will continue doing like this, that is if they will continue to allow the poor masses to choose who they want, which is the most important thing, and do away with imposition,  it will regain its structures,” Okwulehie said, adding: “This time around, people said no to imposition. Even if you don’t have money but qualified to run, the poor masses would choose who they want. That is what happened, winners were chosen through Option A4.”

Okwulehie who said he garnered 125 votes to emerge, disclosed that Obinna Alexander Omekwe

defeated Osinachi Emenogu to emerged the Councillorship candidate of the Ward.

For Ndubuisi Kanu, the chairman of Umuahia Urban Ward 1 (ABSIEC Ward), the primary was a peaceful exercise.

“It was peaceful and I want to give kudos to the party leadership in the state and at Abuja for giving power back to the people because that is what manifested today.

“My people came out en masse and they voted. They were given the opportunity and the chance to vote for their choice and that was why it was peaceful. And I want to thank the party, I want to thank the state governor for giving power back to the people. We used Option A4 after accreditation of all party members present, using the original party register and verifying their party cards before they queued behind the candidates of their choice,” Kanu said.

However, reports from Abia South indicate that there was fracas in Obehie in Ukwa West Local Government Area where it was alleged that lack of crowd controll stalled announcement of result after polling and the returning officer had to flee for his life as a woman leader was said to have been mobbed. Also in Osisioma, the primary was marred by alleged widespread irregularities and serious complaints. The party leadership nullified the exercise in the entire local government, to drive home its insistence on transparency. The party said a new date would be fixed for a fresh priomary in Osisioma local government.

In Ezere Ward of Isuikwuato local government of Abia North, a top politician was accused of employing the services of thugs to disrupt vote counting when he allegedly sensed that his candidate was losing, and thereby declared the exercise inconclusive.

The Publicity Secretary of the party, Sir Don Ubani, described the Ward primary as a commitment to fairness by the party. “As it has been stated, for the umpteenth time, the Peoples Democratic Party, Abia State Chapter, has not and will not compromise its commitment to returning the party to its original owners. Of course, the masses are the original owners of the party,” Ubani contended in a statement he issued after the exercise.

He said those charged with the conduct of the primary were warned against impunity and imposition of candidates. “In conformity with this drive, the Party hammered it into the ears of her electoral officials who were mandated to conduct the party’s Ward Congresses yesterday; Friday 21st October, 2016 that it would neither condone nor tolerate any act that borders on either impunity or imposition in the exercise to elect either the councillorship candidates of the Party for the December 17, 2016 local government council election or ad-hoc delegates that will participate in the primary election that will produce the party’s chairmanship candidates for the same December elections.

“True to its instructions, the party’s electoral officials went about the conduct of the Ward Congresses yesterday with bold determination to achieve the philosophical significance of the Johnson Onuigbo-led State Executive Committee of the Party to make a difference.

“In the 292 ABSIEC Wards that the congresses took place in, the officials did almost everything to guarantee free, fair and credible congresses.

“In all, reports clearly indicate that the congresses were freely, fairly, peacefully and, so, credibly conducted,” Ubani said, while acknowledging that as a human-driven engagement, “it was not improbable that some shortcomings could have been made.”

To perfect the ward primary, News Express learnt that an Appeal Panel to deal with petitions arising from the exercise was inaugurated at the party’s headquarters in Umuahia on Monday, October 24, 2016. It is headed by a renowned lawyer, Ukpai Ukairo.

The underlining factor is that the exercise brought to the fore, the yearnings of the masses to return to grassroots politics as the last local government election was held in the state in 2008. If the primary to choose the party’s chairmanship candidates would peaceful as the ward primary,  then, it will be a new dawn for PDP in Abia State.

 


Source: News Express

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