There is palpable anxiety and growing anger among some aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta North senatorial district over alleged plans to impose candidates on the party for the general elections in 2019.
This feeling is laced with visible doubt and mistrust, despite repeated assurances by the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa who hails from the area, and the state chairman of the party, Kingsley Esiso, of providing a level playing field that will lead to free, fair and credible primaries.
Authoritative feelers from the LGAs are now pointing to the fact that the electorate, particularly on the issue of the state and National Assembly tickets in Delta North, are beginning to nurse a rising lack of trust and confidence in the process and party’s assurances of a level playing field, as they now rather see such pronouncements as mere smokescreen. They have thus expressed their readiness to ensure that only popular candidates emerge from the primaries, pledging that they are fully prepared to confront and tackle any form or act of sabotage or any attempt by anyone, to subvert the process of a free, fair, credible and transparent election.
Further findings have surprisingly uncovered a covert scheme suggesting that plans were already at advanced stages across the various constituencies of the senatorial zone, to allegedly manipulate the process so as to ensure the emergence of those identified as the governor’s secretly anointed candidates.
Serious hints also emerged that certain individuals, most of whom are the governor’s appointees, may have audaciously assumed this role as henchmen and may have been purportedly instructed on what to do, in connivance with the leadership of the party in the state, to ensure that the anointed candidates have a smooth sail during the primaries.
Impeccable inside sources from within the party structure in the LGAs confirm that some of these so called ‘anointed’ aspirants are now said to brimming with confidence, having supposedly secured the assurances of the party leadership in affirming their status as the preferred candidates.
However, in the twin Aniocha and Oshimili state constituencies that make up the federal constituency, in particular, some of those being suspected as fronts for executing the governor’s alleged directive, have either kept mum or denied it, saying that the era of imposition is over in the PDP.
Two prominent PDP chieftains in the Aniocha/Oshimili axis of Delta North, namely the Delta state commissioner for culture and tourism, Emma Chinye and the senior special assistant to the governor on peace building and rural development, Jaunty Okwudi, who spoke on the matter, as leaders of the party in the zone, said that Governor Okowa never directed them to work for any of the aspirants and they were also not aware that the governor has so directed anyone else on that line of action, in Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency.
While Mr. Chinye said he is not even a delegate to the primaries, though he has his personal interest, Okwudi, a founding member of the party and former Aniocha North council chairman, averred in his comments, that the PDP will not repeat its past mistakes.
“As a grassroots politician, I make bold to say categorically that there will be nothing like imposition of candidates this time around. The party, especially in Aniocha North where I am from and which is my constituency, is now wiser more than ever before to make the mistakes of the past,” Okwudi said confidently.
Also, reacting to the growing anxiety among aspirants in the party, state chairman, Kingsley Esiso, told our correspondent on Friday, September 21, that nobody including himself and the governor instructed anybody to deliver any anointed candidate.
Esiso said: “Nobody has instructed anybody to deliver any candidate, but in politics, there is what we call interest and interest is natural. When somebody goes about propagating his own interest, it does not mean that the governor instructed him.
“You cannot say because I am chairman, I should not have interest even in my constituency. Of course I will keep my interest to myself but I cannot tell other party men not to express their interests.
“Everyone is free to go about and propagate his or her interest but nobody has instructed anybody like it is being bandied about. The delegates are already known and the aspirants should concentrate on wooing them. It is going to be a popularity contest not imposition,” Esiso said.
The party chairman, who also acknowledged and spoke out strongly on the fact that some of the aspirants have now adopted the strategy of name dropping to swing delegates’ support, urged all aspirants to desist from such unethical strategies and fraudulent methods and instead embark on more issues based and people friendly campaign to convince the delegates to vote for them during the primaries.
He said: “I can assure you that the governor did not instruct anybody and I did not instruct anybody too. The delegates for the party primaries are already known to everyone.
“Don’t bother yourself about what your opponent is doing by dropping the governor’s name or the party chairman’s name, because it is already an exercise in futility since neither the governor nor the party chairman will come and campaign or even vote in your constituency. Name dropping is already a failed strategy so I advise all aspirants to device other strategies that will appeal to the delegates because the governor will not be there to vote if he is not from your constituency,” he advised.