Nobody has the right to disenfranchise anyone – Elumelu
Mixed feelings have continued to trail the Peoples Democratic Party’s mock primaries for the forthcoming local government council elections as PDP members in Idumuogo, ward 4, Aniocha north council area, have accused the ward leader, Ndudi Elumelu, of marginalization and imposition of councillorship candidate for the ward in violation of existing rotational arrangement.
Members of the party from Idumuogo community who protested to the Delta state PDP secretariat and house of assembly in Asaba, Tuseday, decried their denial to produce the councilor for the ward for the third consecutive time.
In a petition addressed to the PDP state chairman, copies of which were made available to journalists, the group noted that Idumuogo, Ugboba and Onicha-Uku communities made up of ward 4 agreed to zone and rotate the councillorship position among them in order to give every community a sense of belonging.
The petition indicated that Ugboba had its turn from 2009 to 2012 represented by late Nnabuife Okwuosei on the platform of PDP. In 2012 and 2014 transition regimes, Mr. Usher Esonanjo and Mrs. Okwuose represented Onicha-Uku community respectively.
It stated that in 2014 council election, Onicha-Uku people argued that transitional councilors did not equate elective councilors and insisted that it was their turn to produce an elected councilor. Accordingly, Uche Chiejine (the incumbent) represented Onicha-Uku between 2014 and 2017.
“As part of preparation for the forthcoming 2017 council election, the three communities in a meeting of the ward held on 30 August, 2017 at Onicha-Uku, unanimously agreed that Idumuogo should present a councillorship candidate this time around in the spirit of equity, justice and fairness. The resolution was duly communicated to Ndudi Elumelu,’’ the petition quoted.
They noted that this did not go down well with Elumelu who hurriedly convened an emergency meeting of handpicked leaders from the three communities on September 1, 2017 where he insisted that Chiejine, current serving councilor from Onicha-Uku be returned as the party’s candidate for the forthcoming council election on the ground that the councilors did not fare well in terms of statutory emoluments, occasioned by the troubled Nigerian economy.
While calling on the party leaderships to use their good offices in resolving the problem of imposition by their leader, they noted that the people of Idumuogo had remained committed in delivering bulk votes for all PDP candidates in previous elections, adding that they may be left with no other choice than to seek alternative platform to deliver their candidate should the matter not be resolved in accordance with the principle of equity.
A representative of the Idimuogo who protested at the party secretariat, Pius Nwabuisi, told our reporter that it was the turn of their community to produce a councilor for the next local government election.
Hear him: “We are from Idimuogo community in Aniocha north, ward 4. The ward is made up of three communities: Onicha Uku, Idimuogo and Ugboba. Ugboba has produced a councilor, and a transition committee chairman, Onicha uku has produced two transition committee members, and the incumbent councilor.
“It was agreed by the ward executives that the Idimuogo should produce a councilor this time around. But Ndudi Elumelu refused and ordered that the incumbent from his town should go back for the 2nd tenure, making it four times they will be in the council but Idumuogo for the past 16 years has never tasted councilorship.
“We see that as intimidation, oppression and imposition. And the community says no. This is why we are here to see the party chairman.
“We want his decision reversed and allow Idumuogo community to produce the next councilor. We have candidates standing by.
“He is intimidating us. He is opressing us. We have told the state chairman that our community refused to take his decision. That decision should be reversed. It is our turn by rotation and zoning. He is denying us our right.
“The local government PDP chairman, Prince Victor Egbune, has nothing to say. He has no words of his own. He has been dancing round the matter. Even his exco members told him plainly that it is the turn of Idumuogo community. He refused to come out with his decision because he felt Ndudi is a lord.”
Reacting to the allegation, Elumelu stated that in line with the constitution, nobody had the right to disenfranchise anyone no matter the interest, noting that the incumbent councilor who hails from his community indicated interest to run but that Idumuogo people insisted that he must not run as it was their turn.
While saying that he will not delve into any zoning arrangement, Ndudi revealed that same thing happened in other wards where incumbents insisted that they must run and queried, “Who sat with them to discuss zoning.”
He, however, accused the South-South Zonal Officer of the party, Chux Nwaebuni, of aiding Idumuogo people in their protest, adding that Chief Nkem Okwuofu revealed to him (Elumelu) that she confronted Nwaebuni for taking the petition of the protesters to the Delta North PDP Senatorial Chairman, Moses Iduh.
Iduh, when contacted, said that Nweabuni never discussed such matter nor ever submitted any letter of protest from any group of people to him. “Nothing like that happened”, he insisted.
Nwaebuni, on his part, stated that he was copied in the petition in his capacity as the Zonal Officer of the party from federal ward 3 in Aniocha North, comprising Obomkpa, Idumuogo and Ugboba. He said on receipt of his copy of the letter, he drew the attention of Chief Okwuofu, political leader of the ward to the issue as Idumuogo community is part of their federal ward structure.
He said that Okwuofu stated that she would only intervene if the local government party chairman sought her assistance as a decision was taken that leaders should not interfere in other people’s wards.
He revealed that the party had lost one of the units at Idumuogo in the 2015 house of assembly election over grievance of marginalization until he took it upon himself to appease them to regain the three units in the series of elections that followed.
Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had charged the party leaders to ensure they respect rotational arrangements where they existed.
The state party chairman, Kingsley Esiso, had previously, in a press briefing, said that those who were not satisfied with the mock primaries exercise are free to procure nomination forms to run at the primary which will be supervised by Delta State Independent Electoral Commission (DSIEC).
However, some of the councilorship and chairmanship candidates decried lack of internal democracy in the party alleging that they were denied procurement of nomination forms with the claims that their names were not in the list as winners of the mock primaries.