A group of 22 aggrieved Akwa Ibom Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship aspirants on Thursday threatened to decamp from the party if their grievances are not addressed by Saturday.
The group, called G-22, told the Akwa Ibom State caucus in the Senate that having waited for over 31 days for their grievances to be addressed by the PDP national leadership, they were compelled to speak out against the conduct of the December 8, 2014 primaries in the state.
The leader of the group and former deputy governor of the state, Nsima Ekere, accused Governor Godswill Akpabio of making himself the unofficial campaign manager of the opposition political parties through his various undemocratic tendencies.
“There was no accreditation of candidates in line with the party guidelines for the primaries,” Mr. Ekere said. “The list of delegates used for the National and State Assembly elections were different from that of the governorship. A lot of statutory delegates were substituted with the names of those who were not accredited, but were ready to collect N1million from the governor and vote his candidate.”
Mr. Ekere urged President Goodluck Jonathan as the leader of the party to urgently intervene in the crisis in Akwa Ibom, as any attempt to ignore the group’s demand for equity, justice and fairness might cost him and PDP the victory during the forthcoming elections in the state.
According to Mr. Ekere, the G-22 are afraid that the PDP would lose Akwa Ibom State if a credible candidate that is acceptable by the people is not allowed to represent the party come February.
“We are concerned with the current political situation in Akwa Ibom State,” Mr. Ekere said. “We are concerned that the outcome of the governorship primaries would negatively impact the success of the forthcoming elections if equity and justice are not met.
“The entire membership of the PDP in the state want a credible candidate elected in line with the provisions of the constitution of the party and the Electoral Act. Where there is no justice and fairness in the party, one would be sure the outcome would be disastrous,” he said.
The group said it decided to visit the Senate caucus to let them know what was going on, and to urge members to help convey their concerns to the party leaders that Akwa Ibom, which has always been for PDP since 1999, may be lost to the opposition in the coming elections if nothing is done to address the issues.
The grouse of the group, Mr. Ekere said, has to do with the undemocratic manner the December 8, 2014 primaries was conducted, which did not give all participants equal opportunity.
The only woman in the group and member of the Senate, Helen Esuene, said the continued refusal of the PDP to address their grievances was pushing them to the wall.
“After 31 days, the party has not shown the least courtesy of meeting the group to listen to its complaints. We have not been fairly treated by PDP. Akwa Ibom has always been a PDP state. But, if the group is pushed to the wall, there is nothing else we can do than to go to where we are needed,” she warned.
A former Attorney.-General of the State, Assam Assam, accused Mr. Akpabio of disregarding the guidelines issued by the party prior to the elections and conniving with representatives of the national PDP that conducted the election to manipulate the process to favour his candidate.
According to Mr. Assam, although 22 of the 23 candidates who participated in the election protested the poor conduct of the election, they were compelled to stage a walkout when the electoral committee refused to address their grievances.
“We wanted a transparent, credible and democratic primaries. What we had was far from this. There was no equity and fairness. We have resolved to fight to the end, because we would not accept what some members of the party are subjecting the party to,” he said.
In his response, the leader of the Akwa Ibom PDP caucus in the National Assembly, Ita Enang, commended the group for their commitment to sustain the struggle to redeem and recover Akwa Ibom State from anti-democratic elements.
Mr. Enang, who said he witnessed the alleged infractions on the day of the primaries, assured that he would convey their plea for intervention to the President to avoid a disastrous outing for him in the state.
“We should not make the mistake of seeing the crisis as the internal problem of Akwa Ibom. It is a problem that would affect the fortunes of the PDP in the Presidential election if nothing is done urgently.
“The common sentiment today is how to rescue and save Akwa Ibom from the dynastic rule of one family. The party is looking for an Akwa Ibom governor, and not one chosen by Governor Akpabio to secure a third term in office,” Mr Enang said.