The unresolved dispute between Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Senator Ike Ekweremadu political camps of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Enugu State over the election of three-man delegates has adversely affected the smooth conduct of the State Assembly and House of Representatives primaries held at the weekend.
Both camps have pending litigations before different courts seeking the legitimization of the parallel three-man delegates’ congresses which kick-started the process of the party’s primary elections but none of the cases laid before the courts has been decided, though there was a claim of interim injunction obtained by Ugwuanyi’s group in support of their factional congresses.
While Ekweremadu group insisted that it complied with the PDP guidelines for the conduct of the ward congresses held in various wards in the state on the scheduled date, it accused the governor’s faction of merely compiling the delegates’ list and handed it over to the congress panel without conducting the exercise in the wards.
The Electoral Committees sent by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to conduct State Assembly and Federal House of Representatives Primary Elections in Enugu State on Sunday had expressed satisfaction with the exercises, which they described as “peaceful, transparent and orderly.”
But reports from the field Sunday night indicated that in most centres protests greeted the delegates’ list as participants were sharply divided over which list of delegates to use for the conduct of the primary elections.
There were also alleged irregularities, intimidation, and heavy presence of the military, police, and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, who in most places did not allow the recording of the exercise.
These, The Advocate gathered, resulted in the conduct of parallel primaries in most places along the two lists, as aggrieved party members took the initiative to conduct primary with what they regarded as the authentic list of three-man delegates elected during the recent congresses.
Results from the Ekweremadu faction so far indicated that for State House of Assembly, Hon. Chinedu Okwu was declared winner of the Aninri State Constituency PDP primary election while Hon. Sunday Okafor and Egwuonwu Obasi were declared winners of Awgu North and South State Constituencies, respectively. Sunday Umeha was returned for Udi/Ezeagu Federal Constituency.
In Uzo Uwani State Constituency, Dr. Bath Nwankwo was elected, while Engr. Jude Asogwa was elected the flag-bearer for Nsukka/Igboeze South Federal Constituency.
In Enugu East Urban State Constituency, Hon. Osita Okoh was also declared winner.
Heavy Shootings, irregularities mar exercise in Awgu
Meanwhile, reports from Enugu West senatorial zone said PDP primary elections for Awgu North and Awgu South State constituencies as well as the Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency were marred by wanton violence, marked by sporadic shootings, and teargassing of delegates.
As learnt, identification of delegates was marred by allegations of impersonation, while delegates were at a point driven out and tear-gassed out of the hall by policemen allegedly working for the PDP.
Also, whereas the PDP chairmen for Oji River and Aninri were allowed to identify their authentic delegates, the Chairman of the party in Awgu, Hon. Okey Udeh, was not allowed to do so for Awgu despite several protests.
There were allegations that unauthentic delegates were smuggled into the venue. For instance, it was alleged that a lady was smuggled in to stand in for Mrs. Sopulibe, wife of the Deputy Chairman Oji River LGA.
Speaking on the congress, Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and an aspirant for the candidature of the PDP in Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, described the exercise as “a comedy of errors”.
He said that in a democracy, the process was more important than the outcome, stressing that “when something as basic as delegates identification is flawed and skewed, and when an exercise as important as a primary election is marred by violence, then we cannot accept it.”
However, as the final lists of candidates elected by both camps are still being compiled, it is likely that different lists containing names of successful candidates from the parallel primaries would be forwarded to the National Working Committee of the party, while the pending litigations before the courts are expected to determine which side has complied with the party’s guidelines for the exercise.