Aspirants for political offices in the 2019 general election in Kogi State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party have kicked against the plan to give automatic tickets to serving members of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The aspirants, who protested at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja on Monday, demanded a level-playing field for all aspirants.
They said that only free, fair and transparent primaries across the states would be acceptable to them.
The protesters, who sang different songs to register their anger, said offering automatic tickets to the lawmakers, including Senator Dino Melaye who recently defected to the party from the All Progressives Congress, would be a clear violation of the Electoral Act, the PDP constitution and the party’s guidelines.
Reading a prepared address, a leader of the protesting group, Dr Halimat Alfa, insisted that all aspirants must be given equal opportunity to be voted for, either through delegates’ election or direct primaries.
He said the party’s plot to offer automatic tickets to the lawmakers was uncovered last week when an aspirant for the House of Representatives visited the Abuja home of one of the party’s leaders, where he met a serving PDP senator.
According to Alfa, the senator was said to have told the aspirant that tickets for all the National Assembly positions had already been allocated to serving members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
He said, “As if that was not enough, Senator Dino Melaye met with all the members of the seven local governments in Kogi West on Friday and boasted that the issue of the senatorial ticket had been settled by the highest organs of the party.
“Melaye also told them that the PDP’s senatorial ticket for Kogi West had already been given to him even as someone who recently defected to the PDP. This is in total disregard for the interests, eligibility and qualification of other aspirants.”
Alfa expressed reservations about the possibility of the party leadership conducting free, fair and transparent primaries into the available senatorial and House of Representatives seats.
He reminded the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, of his often repeated pledge to do away with impunity and imposition of candidates for elections.
Alfa cautioned against the move, urging the party against manipulation of the nomination process to avoid what they described as a looming fragmentation of the PDP across the states.
He said, “We, the aspirants for legislative seats in the National Assembly on the platform of the PDP, shall collectively and wholeheartedly work for the interest of the party and any candidate duly nominated through a transparent primary.
READ ALSO: Nigeria’s external debt rises by $11.77bn in three years
“But should the party proceed with its pre-determined or manipulated elections to nominate any candidate, an implosion that would be inimical to the interest of the party might occur.”
He, however, said the aspirants believed that the party’s leadership would listen to the protest by the aspirants to do “the right thing.”