In News by Naijatweet Staff on the 09th, November, 2018

Jonathan Igbonekwu: APC primaries: How party was hijacked in Enugu

2019: Atiku, PDP moving faster than us - APC chieftain warns party

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) deadline for political parties to choose candidates to fly their flags in next year’s general elections has lapsed, but there is one discernible worrisome development in Enugu state in particular: by some uncanny, disingenuous means, a lot of personalities who lost out in the PDP primary contests have re-emerged as candidates of the APC!

The APC was not always a preferred destination or platform for politicians seeking opportunities for elective political offices, but that appears to have changed, ostensibly because this is the very first time a general election would hold with APC as head of the government at the centre. Opportunists and party faithful hope for, and indeed expect a new lease of life.

Enugu state remains a real bastion of the PDP no doubt, the party having swept the polls in all electoral contests in the state since the advent of this republic, but it would appear some disgruntled, desperate members are ready to try their luck elsewhere with late, albeit questionable switch to the APC.

And the manner of the somewhat illegal admission of those new entrants into the party and seemingly “award” of tickets to them without due process has painted APC largely as a party that could self-destruct, if a few outstanding matters, particularly the issue of leadership and choice of candidates for impending elections are not satisfactorily resolved.

Observers believe Dr. Ben Nwoye who had been APC chairman in Enugu state since the inception of the party was to blame for the crisis presently rocking the party.

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Nwoye, they point out, had clung to the apex party post even after losing out at the May 19 party congress at which Deacon Okey Ogbodo’s team was elected.
They accuse Nwoye of using the APC chairmanship position as a veritable personal estate, having contested the Enugu East Senatorial at every general election since he became the APC state chairman! “By awarding the senatorial ticket of the party to himself at every election, Nwoye had de-marketed the party extensively”, one observer noted.

Nwoye, on return from his sojourns abroad had been installed as chairman by big APC stakeholders, including Chief Onyemuche Nnamani, whom he has moved against lately given a free reign throughout an era when PDP was the only party of choice in the entire South East.

Nwoye’s lack of tutelage and experience in political party administration apparently resulted in the ineffectual APC presence in Enugu state, and ultimately the quest for a new leader and direction. Deacon Ogbodo is viewed as the perfect fit for that challenge.

That there are now two factions of the APC in Enugu state is already well documented, headed by Nwoye and Deacon Ogbodo respectively, but what has set tongues wagging desperately is the unmistakable is the elaborate presence of known and identifiable PDP operatives, thrown up suddenly as APC flag-bearers. Most of those now bodied about by the Nwoye camp as APC candidates have no membership cards of the party and got no waiver from the NWC, to have the rules suspended in their favour. Indeed, at the point party primaries were on-going and even long after, they were effectively card-carrying PDP members!

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For the first time since his return from America, Nwoye’s name would not be on the ballot papers, having allegedly “sold” the slot to a certain Prince Lawrence Eze, who lost at the PDP senatorial primaries to Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. APC insiders assert authoritatively that Prince Eze’s name was never on the ballot papers for the APC senatorial primaries, wondering how he emerged the party’s flag bearer while still in PDP. “Nwoye had apparently used a fake name to make the reservation” a delegate reasoned.

The controversial practice of using names of known PDP activists to supplant those of APC devotees, particularly by the Nwoye group, has been widespread across the state and mind-bugling, one observer said.
Barrister Tagbo Ogara who had been APC Legal Adviser over the years had won the party’s gubernatorial primaries in which Ayogu Eze came third, but Nwoye has projected Ayogu as flag bearer in apparent desperate demonstration of predetermination. Ayogu left PDP only in August and visited Enugu in October, for the first time since he left the Senate three and half years ago. That was during the APC primaries. He does not even know the name of his ward APC chairman” an observer said after watching Ayogu on a Channels TV programme last week.

The attempt to impose other PDP decampees on original APC members has also taken place in other senatorial districts in Enugu state. Former speaker of the Enugu state House of Assembly, Eugene Odoh, who just joined APC, is being projected as candidate for the Enugu North senatorial zone, while erstwhile state commissioner for Enugu Capital Territory, Ikechukwu Ugwuegede and Jonathan Chukwuma are touted as candidates for House of Reps in the zone, by the Nwoye camp.

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The Deacon Ogbodo faction appear for now to keep the faith with known APC veterans like Barrister Ogara, Hon. Hyacinth Nsude, for senatorial; Messos Stephen Okenwa, Maximus Ugwuoke and Bath Ugwuoke, for House of reps position in the zone, but who prevails in the end?

It is yet unclear who laughs last, but one thing is clear: PDP operatives have effectively hijacked the Enugu state APC from the so-called Progressive veterans. One vital question that must be answered inescapably is: who are these gate crashers working for?

Jonathan Igbonekwu Writes from Coal Camp, Enugu.



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