From Magnus Eze, Enugu, Joe Effiong, Uyo, Okey Sampson, Umuahia, Joseph Obukata, Warri, Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo, John Adams, Minna and Abel Leonard, Lafia
The governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, witnessed boycotts across the country.
In Enugu, former deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, pulled out amid contestations for the control of the party’s delegates between his camp and that of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Director General of Ekweremadu’s Ikeoha Campaign Organisation, Ogbo Asogwa, said he would continue to pursue his case challenging the three-man delegates’ list in the Court of Appeal.
In Akwa Ibom State, Onofiok Luke boycotted citing absence of a level playing field in the ad hoc delegates that would vote for all contestants. He said President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the amended Electoral Act to allow statutory delegates vote had put him at a disadvantage.
In a statement, Luke said: “Our hope of victory was dependent on God using the delegates at the PDP primary and ultimately Akwa Ibom people at the general election… However, unfolding realities within our party and the nation have called for a reconsideration of my participation in the gubernatorial primaries of our party today. This is for the simple fact that we will not be going into this election with our largest support base which is the statutory delegates. We also do not have any of the ad hoc delegates as our supporters who bought forms to be Adhoc delegates were excluded from the process.”
Also, Senate Minority Leader and Senator representing Abia South, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Abia deputy governor, Ude Chukwu and five other aspirants withdrew alleging the process was flawed.
Abaribe, in a statement titled: “Notice of non-participation in the Abia PDP Gubernatorial Primaries” condemned the use of only an imaginary three-man Adhoc delegates to the exclusion of the party’s statutory delegates in the primary to elect candidates against the injunction of INEC.
“The implication for our party is grave and as such has put all ongoing primary exercises on quick sand…Accordingly, I Senator Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe will not be part of this charade. I am therefore not participating in the exercise, which means that I will not be part of the PDP governorship primary election that holds in Abia State on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 as doing so would have amounted to endorsement of an illegality that is already being challenged in the courts.”
Similarly, Chukwu, Abia deputy governor in a letter said he withdrew because the process was skewed with the contentious three-man delegates list.
Citing the petition which they made to the national leadership of the party, which he said was ignored, Oko Chukwu said: “It is equally obvious that the purported list and its generation is a flagrant violation of relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, INEC guidelines and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as Amended.”
In the same vein, former Minister of State for Education, Kenneth Gbagi, dropped his aspiration in Delta State claiming the entire process was hijacked by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who he alleged railroaded the delegates and induced them financially long before the election.
Also, immediate past deputy governor of Zamfara State, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau, stepped down from the race.
In a statement, Gusau, who was impeached in February, urged the delegates, party leaders and his supporters to vote for Dr. Lawal Dauda to emerge as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Zamfara State.
This is as disagreements over means of identification of delegates forced the shift of Niger State governorship primary.
This followed protest by four of the aspirants – Sani Kutigi, Sidi Abdul, former minister of sports, Abdulrahman Gimba and Abubakar Jankara – who threatened to stage a walk out if their demand of ensuring proper identification of all the proposed 800 delegates was not carried out.
The aspirants, after a meeting, had approached Chairman of the State Electoral panel and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, to lodge their grievances. He obliged the request for a shift to today.
Meanwhile, Taraba State, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Joseph Kunini, has denied plans to drop out of the governorship contest.
In a statement, Kunini said: “The Speaker is still in the governorship race. He is an astute politician, brilliant accountant, financial expert, quintessential legislator, boardroom technocrat, philanthropic par excellence and, above all, a visionary and valiant leader, all rolled into one… the speaker has urged his teeming supporters, admirers and well wishers to ignore the rumour of his purportedly withdrawal from the governorship race in the State.”
But former information minister, Labaran Maku, withdrewn from the race in Nasarawa, at the venue of the primary election at Nasarawa Toto LGA after a meeting with some party stakeholders. He promised to issue a statement to explain his reasons. All three aspirants, David Ombugadu, Nuhu Amgbazu and Maku had agreed to work together to defeat the incumbent.