February 05, (THEWILL) – The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has appointed Enugu State Governor, Peter Mbah, as the chairman of the Edo State 3-man ad-hoc ward congress electoral committee.
Mbah replaces Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who earlier rejected his appointment as Chairman of the 3-man ad-hoc ward congress electoral committee.
Makinde, in a letter dated February 2, 2024, addressed to the NWC, said he rejected his appointment because of the short notice given to him.
He said the short notice afforded him no time to properly assess the actions taken by the PDP Directorate of Organisation while the date of the exercise coincided with his prior engagements.
Makinde also queried the composition of the list of Electoral Officers (EOs), which he observed contained people from outside the state and its government.
He specifically pointed out that the name of the current Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly appeared on the list as leading the team of EOs in his own local government area, adding that it was against the principles of equity, fairness and justice for all aspirants.
Makinde referenced the petition written by gubernatorial aspirants under the PDP in the forthcoming poll in Edo State alleging that the primary election process had already been skewed.
The Oyo Governor reiterated that the former ruling party is known for transparent primaries, including presidential primaries, noting that the party should apply it as the benchmark to conduct elections and associated activities.
While declining his appointment, Makinde, however, reaffirmed his commitment to the main opposition party.
Copied to Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Adolphus Wabara, and the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, his letter to the NWC titled “Re: 2024 Gubernatorial Primary Elections: Edo State 3 Ad-hoc Ward Congresses Electoral Committee”, reads: “Let me begin by first thanking the National Working Committee (NWC) of our great Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for nominating me to serve as Chairman of this very crucial and sensitive committee.
“However, given that I was notified of my appointment as the Chairman of this very important committee on Friday, 2 February 2024 for a congress scheduled for 3-4 February 2024, I regret to inform the NWC that I will be declining this appointment as I have prior State engagements for these dates.
“The late notification also means that I could not properly review any actions taken by the Directorate of Organisation before my appointment.
“Nevertheless, due to the fact that my appointment as Chairman was publicised, I have become privy to information that indicates irregularities with the process as follows:
“List of Appointed Electoral Officers:
“I observed that the current list of Electoral Officers (EOs) contains people from Delta State and some Edo State Government officials.
“To buttress this point, the current Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly is leading the team of EOs in his own Local Government Area – This is against the principles of equity, fairness and justice for all aspirants.
“As the NWC is aware, the use of EOs for the conduct of congresses was designed to ensure transparency and accountability and this will be impossible to achieve with the current list.
“Petitions from Aspirants: “Hours after it was publicised that I had been appointed the Chairman, I received petitions from gubernatorial aspirants in the State alleging that the process would not be fair.
“I have attached the petitions to this letter.
“Our great party is known for conducting very transparent primaries, including presidential primaries. This, in my opinion, should be the benchmark for the NWC’s conduct of elections and associated activities across the board.
“Thank you once again for the trust reposed in me. Let me reiterate my commitment to our great party, the PDP and the tenets our party stands for.
“Please accept the assurances of my warmest regards.”
Meanwhile, the PDP, on Sunday, conducted its delegates’ election in Edo State ahead of the February 22 PDP governorship primaries in the state.
The election produced 576 delegates who are expected to nominate the party’s standard-bearer for the Edo guber election.
Speaking to journalists at George Idahosa Primary School in Benin City, the Edo State Capital, Governor Mbah commended the large turnout of PDP members, describing the exercise as free, fair, credible and transparent.
“This is a democracy where our people come to exercise their franchise, we appreciate this turnout. Our party is known for its principles, which are fairness, equity and justice. I wish you to all conduct yourselves properly as we hold this election,” he said.
Speaking at Ward 4 Collation Centre, Idia College, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said, “You can see from the crowd here that it is a lot of success, a 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 our gubernatorial primary and we are also expecting this huge turnout in the main election.”
On the non-participation of members of the Legacy Coalition of the PDP, the Governor said, “You cannot have a hundred 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 the 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.”
However, nine other aspirants, in their letters to the Acting National Chairman and copied to the National Vice Chairman South-South of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, protested the process and composition of those to conduct the delegates election.
The petition was signed by Philip Shaibu, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Anselm U. Ojezua, Felix Akhabue, Martin Uhomoibhi, Hafia Hadizat Umoru, Omosede Igbinedion, Dr Earl Osaro Onaiwu and Arthur Esene.