Despite protest in some quarters, including nine of its aspirants, the Peoples Democratic Party on Sunday conducted its delegates congress to elect three people from the ward that would participate in the February 22 governorship primary election.
The exercise went ahead despite the stepping down of the chairman of the three-man committee headed by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, as Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State, who is said to be the deputy chairman was present in the state to conduct the primary, where he commended the large turnout of members of the party.
Speaking to party faithful at the George Idah Primary School, Benin City, which is the Collation Centre for Ward 2, Mbah said: “This is democracy where our people come to exercise their franchise, we appreciate this turnout. Our party is known for its principles, which is fairness, equity and justice. I wish you all conduct yourselves properly as we hold this election.”
In Ward 7 at Ugbekun Primary School in Ikpoba-Okha LGA of the state, Dr. Major Itemowe, led others to conduct the exercise while in Oluku Ward, Kunle Koya, from Lagos State conducted the exercise.
Speaking to journalists in his Ward 4 Collation Centre, Idia College, Governor Godwin Obaseki said the crisis in the party was being overhyped and that it would not affect the outcome of the governorship election.
He said, “You can see from the crowd here that it is a lot of success, a huge turn out. We had over 600 people coming out to participate here. Our people are very politically aware. We are happy with this turn out to elect delegates for our gubernatorial primary and we are also expecting this huge turnout in the main election.”
On the withdrawal of Makinde, Obaseki said: “It is unfortunate that Makinde withdrew. There are three governors and he is only one of the three. So withdrawing does not really remove the credibility of the process and it is not just the process and what makes a process credible is the quality of the participation and you can see for yourself.
“So, it is unfortunate that Governor Makinde had to take such decision but I hope that all our efforts to continue to unify the party and pacify all players will continue. We are not deterred at all, we are going to make sure that PDP plays its role in the politics of this country.”
On non participation of members of the Legacy Coalition of the PDP, he said: “You cannot have a 100 percent, clearly you can see the crowd here. When we were in APC before we joined the PDP, we didn’t have these numbers, so clearly the people we met in the party are still in the party.
“The crisis is hyped, it is not as fundamental as it is made to look on ground. There is very little crisis, the crisis is fanned from outside and our people are smarter than that. You will see during the main election, we are not going to allow ourselves to be sold.”
The nine aspirants in their letter to acting National Chairman and copied the National Vice Chairman South-South of the party, Dan Orbih, protested the process and compositions of those to conduct the delegates election.
The petition by Philip Shaibu, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Anselm Ojezua, Felix Akhabue, Amb. Martin Uhomoibhi, Hafia Hadizat Umoru, Omosede Igbinedion, Dr. Earl Onaiwu and Arthur Esene read: “We have also seen two lists of the composition of the Edo State three Ad-Hoc Ward Congresses Electoral Committee and two lists of the Ward Congress Electoral Officers and a list of LGA Monitoring Officers
“With regard to the notice to INEC, we humbly observe that it lacks legitimacy because it was signed by an acting National Secretary, when we have a substantive National Secretary in office. This falls short of the statutory requirement contained in the Electoral Act.
“Furthermore, we are confronted by two lists of the Edo State 3 Ad-Hoc Ward Congresses Electoral Committee. The only similarity between them is that the Chairman is Seyi Makinde, the composition is different. We do not know which one is the authentic one duly approved by the National Working Committee.”