The Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State, on Sunday, conducted an election (congress) to pick delegates that will participate in the party’s February 22 governorship primary.
The exercise was, however, trailed by an uproar as nine out of the 11 PDP governorship aspirants boycotted the exercise.
Also, the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who was the chairman of the three-man committee in charge of the Edo delegates election, withdrew from the exercise.
But the Governor of Enugu State, Peter Mbah, who is said to be the deputy chairman of the committee, commended the large turnout of party members for the delegates election.
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, described Makinde’s withdrawal from the process as unfortunate but said it would not undermine the credibility of the exercise, which, he said, witnessed a large turnout of party members.
The nine governorship aspirants, who boycotted the delegates election, were Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Anselm Ojezua, Felix Akhabue, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, Hafia Hadizat Umoru, Omosede Igbinedion, Dr Earl Osaro Onaiwu and Arthur Esene.
They wrote a protest letter to the PDP acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, and sent a copy to the National Vice Chairman South-South, Chief Dan Orbih.
The nine aspirants complained about the composition of the committee conducting the delegates election.
Speaking to party members at the George Idah Primary School, GRA, Benin, the collation centre for Ward 2, the Enugu State Governor said, “This is democracy where our people come to exercise their franchise. We appreciate this turnout. Our party is known for the principles of fairness, equity and justice. I wish you to all conduct yourselves properly as we hold this election.”
In Ward 7 at Ugbekun Primary School in Ikpoba-Okha Local government, 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 Obaseki said the crisis in the party was being blown out of proportions 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 due to the huge turnout. We had over 600 people coming out to participate here; our people are very politically aware and we are happy with this turnout to elect delegates for a our governorship primary. We are also expecting this huge turnout in the main election.”
On the resignation of Makinde, Obaseki said, “It is unfortunate that Makinde withdrew. There are three governors and he is only one of the three that withdrew, which does not remove the credibility of the process. What makes a process credible is the quality of the participation. You can see the turnout; so it is unfortunate that Governor Makinde had to take such a decision. I hope that all our efforts to continue to unify the party and pacify all stakeholders will continue. We are not deterred at all, we are going to make sure that the PDP plays its role in the politics of this country.”
Speaking on the non-participation of members of the Legacy Coalition of the PDP, he said, “You cannot have a 100 per cent participation. You can see the crowd here. When we were in the APC before we joined the PDP, we didn’t have these numbers. So, it is clear that 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. 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.”
When contacted to react to the Edo situation, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said,”It is publicly known that Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, for personal reasons known only to him, resigned as Chairman of the PDP Edo State Ad Hoc Delegate Congress Electoral Committee. We are not aware of any other person who boycotted.”
Also, when contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to Makinde, Sulaimon Olanrenwaju, said he was not aware that his principal resigned.
“I’m not aware that he resigned. I’m not aware,” he said.