THE Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still finding it difficult to come to terms with its defeat in the hands of the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) during the July14 governorship election.
The defeat has also polarised the party and questions are being asked by growing splinters in the party over the credibility of the party’s leadership.
And while the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP) have called for support for the ACN, the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) has been very quiet.
The division in the PDP became obvious when on Monday the party announced that it had withdrawn its earlier petition at the State Governorship Election Tribunal where it went to challenge the re-election of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
The situation became worse when stalwarts of the party engaged one another in a verbal brawl over the weekend in Abuja during a birthday party organised for its national leader, Chief Tony Anenih. In the main, questions were raised on how monies meant for election were spent while some others argued that the party does not have a good case and that they should rather re-organise for future electoral challenges. This group expressed concerns that the party members were likely to face more blows from the ruling party as more of its members were planning defection.
Last week, a Stakeholders Forum called for the resignation of all the leaders of the party over what it called “abysmal outing in the July 14 governorship election.”
The group also called for a probe into how the party’s finances were managed during the election. A communiqué signed by Kaseem Bello Asunogie, passed a vote of no confidence on the leadership of the party, and urged them to resign following the defeat it suffered in the election.
Asunogie said: “Our party recorded the most scandalous and humiliating defeat in the history of the country during the Edo governorship election. The forum did a critical reappraisal of all the electoral contest in Edo since 2007 and resolved that the Edo PDP and its executive and leadership do not have the capacity and vision to lead our great party to any electoral victory which is the goal of any party.”
But three days after, another group. Akoko-Edo Youths Vanguard said the party has “no faction, no crisis in Edo PDP, we recognised only one state Executive elected during the last party congresses, led by Chief Dan Osi Orbih.”
A statement signed by the group’s spokesman, Kayode Alabi said members of the Stakeholders Forum worked against the party during the election and therefore passed a vote of confidence on the Orbih led executive, “at the PDP secretariat in Igarra”
He said: “They want to distract us from going to seek justice in court, we want to clearly state; that the Edo PDP led by Orbih will not be distracted, we have taken a stand that all comments of distraction by these cabal should be seen as a non issue and ignored. The presidency and the national body of PDP led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur can always reach us through our national leader, Anenih and our state chairman Orbih, we have watched with kin interest and discovered that this group is playing the script of distraction giving to them by the ACN. No true PDP member will want to cause division at a time when the party is putting heads together
“The group after a meeting passed an unanimous decision that Anenih, and Orbih remain the recognised national leader and chairman of our party in Edo. The group also issued a word of courage to the state PDP executive to be courageous and face the real challenges ahead on how to reclaim Edo state through the judicial process.”
The division in the party was further made public when the former Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Godwin Abbe (rtd) opposed the party’s decision to go court over the last election.
According to Abe: “The election has been adjudged free and fair and rather than going to court, the party should join hands with the incumbent to move the state forward and then prepare for future elections.”
In less than three hours after a certified copy of the filed papers was made available to the media by the PDP, Orbih announced the party was withdrawing the suit “in the interest of the state.”
Though the party’s candidate in the election, Maj.-Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) confirmed the development, he said, “it was a party decision and that I am a party man.” But some of his aides debunked his earlier stance as they said yesterday that he is most likely to defy the party’s decision and go ahead with the case.
A statement titled: ‘Edo State governorship Election 2012-Let God be the judge,’ reads; “With the above assessment of the results, PDP is aware of the divergent views and expressions by the public. PDP is also aware of the legal options.
“However, PDP has fully consulted the leadership of the party both within and outside the state. During these consultations, Legal opinions were sought and it is the conclusion of the party that while we appreciate the effects the results declared by INEC will have on our teeming members, we are also mindful of the consequences which the state may run into with protracted litigation.
“Consequently, though painful, for now PDP has decided not to file any petition before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in the interest of the state.
“While I pray that God grants the leadership of the PDP the wisdom and courage to continuously stand for the good of our party and Edo people, they should be rest assured that their commitment and sacrifices and the pains which they have endured will not be in vain. I urge them to be ready to reposition the party with committed people, make peace and allow God to be the judge.”
But Oshiomhole lauded the PDP’s decision to withdraw the case. He said that the election showed an overwhelming support for ACN across the 18 Local Government.
In a statement, the Chief Press Secretary to Oshiomhole, Peter Okhiria said “I wish to extend my hand of fellowship to all men of goodwill to join hands with the government to move the state to the next level, because, despite all the successes recorded in the last three and half years, Edo is still work-in-progress.
“I look forward to more collaboration between my government, other political parties and interests in the state. I want to restate my full respect for the PDP leader, Chief Tony Anenih, whom I hold and will continue to hold in high respects.
“I also wish to assure the PDP candidate, Airhiavbere whom I regard as a friend, now that we have put the elections behind us, my doors are open so that together, we may lift our state to the high level where it should be.
“I however wish to state that other issues raised by the PDP will be commented on another occasion.”
A peep into the papers earlier filed by the PDP showed that the party wanted the tribunal to declare the election as invalid “by reason of corrupt practices and non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended)”
It alleged that most of the voters registers used in the election were not genuine. The party said most of them did not tally with the ones used for the April 2011 general election while it also alleged that there were anomalies during the exercise and in the compilation of results from various polling units and centres. It insisted there were multiple votings in polling units in Oredo, Egor, Ikpobha Okha, Etsako West, Etsako East, Etsako Central, Orhionmwon, Akoko-Edo, Esan West, Ovia North-East, Ovia Southwest and Uhunmwonde councils.
The PDP is also questioning the academic qualification of Oshiomhole “the governor did not meet the minimum qualification to contest for the office of Governor of Edo State as provided for in the 2010 Electoral Act (As Amended).
The party had prepared 31 witnesses to help push its case at the tribunal including 21 different documents to back up its case.
PDP wanted the tribunal to declare the Airhiavbere as the winner of the election or alternatively declared that the election of Oshiomhole was invalid “by reason that he was not qualified to run for the office of governor of Edo State having not met the mandatory statutory requisite qualifications to contest in the election.”
But observers strongly believed that the decision of the PDP to withdraw from the tribunal after it had filed its documents was an indication that all was not well and the those who believed the party should go to court may in the next few days begin to ask more questions and if not carefully handled could snowball into another round of crisis which the party may not be able to handle.
But one of the adherents of PDP and an aspirant during the election, Mr. Kenneth Imasuagbon said there is no division in the state chapter of the party. He said the two factions that are now laying claims to different positions over the outcome of the last election and the credibility of the party’s leadership are “illegal and they do not in any form represent the interest of the party.”
According to him, “It is normal for our candidate Airhiavbere to react but whatever the situation is the party’s decision remains supreme. What I know and believe is that PDP will come out strong and reclaim Edo. We have learnt a lot of lesson and we are going to correct whatever our mistake is. The leadership and influence of Chief Anenih and the credibility of Orbih remained intact in the party.”
Immasuagbon added that what is paramount to everybody is the progress and development of the state.
We enjoin our readers to send their stories/articles/reports, including pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org