Posted by News Express | 8 January 2015 | 4,065 times
Article 2.5 of the Political Parties Code of Conduct 2013 states that “All political parties shall ensure and practice internal party democracy by adhering strictly to the provisions of their party’s constitution. Article 2.1 of the same Political Parties Code of Conduct also states that “All political parties , their leaders, members, supporters and candidates shall adhere to all existing laws, and regulations pertaining to elections, and the conduct of political parties, especially the election guidelines established by INEC through the authority of Electoral Act 2010 as amended, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and shall do nothing whatsoever, individually or collectively to undermine, flout, disrespect or circumvent them.”
The law is also clear on the need to uphold democratic principles in the whole process of party primaries. The Electoral Act stipulates that “The aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the primaries of the party and the aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party.”
The Electoral Act in Section 86 empowers INEC to monitor political parties and keep records of their activities. Section 87 of the Act also provides a choice between two procedures for the nomination of candidates by parties – direct or indirect primaries. In direct elections, all members of the party can vote for their candidate of choice while indirect elections involve the election of delegates to primaries where the delegates will elect candidates from a set of registered aspirants.
Section 7 of the Act states that “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules, the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting.”
The above constitutional provisions were carefully outlined here in this report to give us a clearer picture of what is supposed to be and juxtaposed with what happened during the party primaries in Anambra State, we can then appreciate the fact that democracy is endangered and we are heading to perdition going by the sham called party primaries conducted in the state. Constitutional provisions were thrown away and democratic tenets discarded while petty reasons took over the motive of selecting candidates.
That of PDP in the state can be pardonable because their own was never happenstance rather they just walked an old path and a familiar terrain in their tradition of all gladiators being kings in their own right and can never agree. Their own has always been judicially coronated from time immemorial but we are worried over what happened in APGA, the ruling party in the state.
Infact, the god of APGA is crying because her children have been raped mercilessly while its pride and ethics have been trampled on the ground.
Ominous signs of what to expect from the APGA primaries emanated from the election of delegates for the election when a different list allegedly manufactured by the State Chief Executive to achieve a target was brandished on the Election Day to the surprise of the contestants.
Sources confirmed that the grand plot was (a) Give automatic tickets to the APGA House of Assembly members as compensation for their loyalty and to also ensure that nothing like impeachment notice to the governor comes on board in 2015. (B) Give a higher compensation to the Speaker of the House, Princess Chinwe Nwaebili, so that she will displace the performing House of Reps member, Afam Ogene. (C) Make sure that all supporters and loyalists of ex-governor Peter Obi are flushed out and (D) Don’t give sitting House of Reps members return tickets so that they will not gain enough financial muscle to come back and challenge the governor in the 2019 election.
With this dangerous mindset, ridiculous things began to happen that during the conduct of primaries for the 30 House of Assemblies and 14 Federal legislative seats including 3 senatorial seats, it was drama all through.
In the 11 House of Reps primaries conducted first, six produced winners amidst complaints of manipulation, selection and outright imposition of candidates and delegates while the remaining was postponed. In Ogbaru Federal constituency election held in a hotel, the DPO Okpoko division, Mr. Emeka Ugwu in acting out the script handed to him barred all journalists from entering the venue. At the end of the exercise, the changed delegate list produced Nwebili as instructed. In Ihiala, it was reported that a prominent business mogul and PDP member allegedly paid his way and was given the concession to produce his choice candidates as APGA flag bearers. It was the same story in Anaocha, Orumba, Anambra East/ West and other constituencies.
In Anaku, Ayamelum Local Government Area, Onyimonyi John Egbunike who was declared winner after polling 51 votes against the closest aspirant, Okafor Uche Victor, who polled 22 was issued a certificate of return but surprisingly denied the party ticket later.
The drama at Godwin Achebe Stadium, Fegge, venue of the primaries for Anambra North APGA Senate, was the most interesting. The game plan was to return Obianwu Patrick (Nwachi) as the governor’s anointed candidate against the popular choice of the people, Dubem Obaze, and the body language of the Returning Officer, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta, said it all during the exercise.
Unfortunately for them, the delegates decided to use their conscience and voted massively for Obaze that at the end, he polled 219 votes against the anointed that got 145 votes. Nnacheta was in a terrible state of confusion to announce the results that he wanted to act funny but thanks to the resilience of the people and the atmosphere provided by the newly promoted Deputy Commissioner of Police, Benjamine Wordu, and the DPO Fegge police Division, Rabiu Garba, it became practically impossible to actualise the directed script. Nnacheta was overwhelmingly prevailed upon to declare the results and the people also trooped into Top Rank Hotel opposite the stadium at the dead of the night to photocopy the signed results. Feelers received by CLO revealed that there are desperate attempts to deny Dubem Obaze the hard-won ticket of the party because of some vested interests and chief among the reasons why they want to snatch the ticket from him is that he is seen as Peter Obi’s man.
In Onitsha federal constituency, the rescheduled primaries in line with the grand plot, denied ticket to the sitting member, Cyril Egwuatu, and handed it over to Anthonia Tabansi Okoye.
For crying out loud, APGA under Obiano with this arrangee style of party primaries is heading for destruction. Also, we wonder the hoopla over Obi’s exit to PDP and why his so called loyalists must be punished. The greatest beneficiary of Obi’s stay and exit in APGA from whichever angle one looks at it is the incumbent governor, Chief Obiano; therefore, being in such a hurry to remove the vestiges of Obi in APGA and the government smacks of ingratitude. Obi in his unusual and rare lifestyle left to PDP alone but Obiano is making the whole thing sickening and doubly ridiculous. Renting crowds to visit Ojukwu’s grave in the name of reporting Obi to Ojukwu or hiring people to show them video clips of where Obi vowed not to leave APGA is double ingratitude and sickening.
Whoever sold to Obiano this idea of denying tickets to serving federal Reps members who have done well before on the reason that they may garner much financial muscle has done much harm to the polity than good. Sending first timers to Abuja will only slow down the development of our legislature, weaken our democratic process and bring bench warmers who may grope in the dark to get acquainted in the process and before you know it, the four years is gone. Punishing or removing Obi’s loyalists is also an idea from the pit of hell and trying to rubbish Obi’s legacies is not the best way to pay back a man who gave much to ensure the continuity that is supposed to be. Even God abhors ingratitude, said Chief Jim Nwobodo.
Our candid advice to Gov. Obiano is to remember that whatever action or inaction of him will count at the time of reckoning. It is early enough for him to strengthen his strong points, make amends in his weak points and chart a course for the development of Anambra state anchored on prudence, accountability and purpose driven leadership. He should distance himself and government actions from haughtiness, extravagance, opulence, ostentations, vindictiveness or dealing with any opposing or dissenting voices.
•Being excerpts from the 25-page End of Year/World Human Rights Day Report of the Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), signed by the Chairman, Comrade Aloysius Attah; 08035090548, firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo shows APGA National Leader, Governor Willie Obiano.
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