Details have emerged on how the Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, generated the list of three ad-hoc delegates in each of the 260 wards of the state four clear days ahead of the April 30, 2022, Ward Congress of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP had conducted congresses across the nation to elect three ad-hoc ward delegates, who are to join the statutory delegates to elect the House of Assembly, National Assembly, and Governorship candidates of the party in the 2023 elections.
Prior to the exercise, the 552nd meeting of the NWC had advised party leaders, stakeholders and members to refrain from any form of imposition, infringement and meddlesomeness in the exercise.
“The NWC, therefore, directs all members and officials of the party to respect and fully comply with the party’s constitution and the Electoral Guidelines in the conduct of the 3-man Ad-Hoc and National Delegates Congresses and Primaries,” a statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Olgunagba, had said.
The exercise was scheduled to hold at designated times and venues being the collation centres in the wards.
However, findings show that Governor Ugwuanyi had already compiled the list of the three delegates for each of the 260 wards four days before the congress.
“What happened was that the governor invited the 17 local government council chairmen to the Government House where he instructed them to meet with the Chairman of the Enugu State chapter of the PDP, Chief Augustine Nnamani, to compile names of trusted party members that would vote according to the governor’s directive at the primaries. That was four days before the congress.
“Nnamani summoned a meeting of the council chairmen and instructed them to compile the list of delegates working with the ward chairmen. It was this same list that the state government and the state party chairman handed to the Prince Vincent Yandev Amaabai-led national panel as a consensus list of the Enugu PDP stakeholders.
“These names were accordingly transferred to the result sheets at a hotel a stone's throw from the Government House where Amaabai and members of his panel were also lodged."
Our source, however, said that contrary to the claims, not many stakeholders, including those considered to be in the governor’s good books, were taken into confidence in the compilation of the delegates' lists.
“For instance, in Enugu East, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani was carried along to an extent. In Enugu North, former state chairman of the party, Chief Vita Abba, who is vying for the Nsukka/Igboeze South Federal Constituency, was also carried along, while the incumbent, Hon. Pat Asadu was left out.
“In Ezeagu, part of Enugu West, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. Festus Uzo, who is also a House of Representatives aspirant was carried along, while the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, was left in the lurch," the source said.
Meanwhile, our investigation showed that former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and a section of the Enugu PDP leaders refused to be played by Ugwuanyi.
It was gathered that Ekweremadu’s supporters and political associates mobilised to the designated venues to follow the party’s guidelines in the election of delegates in some wards even without the ward leadership.
“Ekweremadu’s supporters and associates were at the 260 wards where the three-man delegates' election were held and also monitored by INEC staff. The candidates came with their nomination forms and party members queued behind them.
“However, since the state government and PDP state chairman already hijacked members of the Abuja panel and the result sheets, the results of the exercise were recorded on plain sheets of paper and signed by the requisite party officials and INEC staff.
“But there were also instances where the requisite party officers such as the ward chairman and secretary declined to either record the results or sign, courtesy of order from above.
“It was this decision by a section of the Enugu PDP to go ahead with the exercise at the designated venues and time that resulted in the attacks on the congress by thugs in some cases in a failed bid to stop the exercise in the fields.
“The simple implication is that whereas there is no pictorial or video evidence of participation of the Ugwuanyi group in the Congress, which they claim to have won, there is hard evidence in terms of pictures and video of the participation of the Ekweremadu group in the exercise,” a highly placed party source revealed.
Our findings, however, show that as things stand now, only the courts would eventually determine the actual delegates list as both the Ekweremadu and Ugwuanyi supporters have gone to court over the delegates' list.
Meanwhile, alleged manipulations and lack of transparency in the ward congress across the South East, which have been blamed on the impunity of the PDP NWC and the governors is something analysts believe the PDP should worry about.
“In Abia, there were protests. In Ebonyi, it was the same thing. In fact, the chairman of the panel that came from Abuja was reportedly manhandled and there are court cases on congress. In Imo, angry party members held the Abuja panel hostage. INEC has equally rejected the congress in Imo for non-compliance with the party Guidelines and Electoral Act 2022.
“Currently, the PDP is left with only two states in the South East, namely Enugu and Abia; and unless the party manages this situation well to ensure that the most popular aspirants emerge as candidates for the 2003 general elections, the party will lose the entire region and most of the state and National Assembly seats,” a source in the party stated.