David Umahi of Ebonyi State.
As Ebonyi State prepares to conduct the local government elections scheduled for April, a fresh crisis may rock the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the party’s zoning formula.
The stakeholders meetings of the party to harmonise and present consensus candidates ahead of the council polls may have thrown the party into political rivalry, bickering and crisis.
Already, the stakeholders of the ruling party are divided over the zoning arrangement as adopted in the meetings, ahead of the implementation of the zoning arrangement in the 13 local government areas and the 171 wards.
Governor David Umahi, while signing into law, the newly amended State Electoral Act, had directed the state chairman, Onyekachi Nwebonyi, the Zonal Vice Chairman, South East of the party, Deacon Austin Umahi and the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Francis Nwifuru to meet the stakeholders and ensure the implementation of the zoning arrangement, to avoid bickering and internal political wrangling.
Whereas some local governments recorded peaceful harmonisation, the meeting has again ignited rivalry and tension in Ikwo, Ishielu, Afikpo South, Abakaliki, Izzi, Ebonyi, Ohaukwu and Ivo local council areas.
The Guardian gathered that the meeting of party leadership with stakeholders of Ishileu local council ended in a deadlock, as stakeholders could not agree on the zoning arrangement.
The chairman of Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC), Jossy Eze said that no political party would hold the commission to ransom in the conduct of the election as scheduled, stressing that no disagreement in any political party would make the commission shift the election.
He stressed that the commission would maintain absolute neutrality without being influenced by anybody.
However, a Human Rights group in the state, Alliance for Good Governance, which described the zoning formula as illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic, urged the people to reject such moves especially in Ikwo, Ohaozara, Ezza south council areas among others.
In a communiqué signed by Mr. Donatus Ekechi and Mr. Frank Egwu, coordinator and secretary respectively, the group said it rejected any form of the political coup of self interest group that are bent on crucifying democracy in a bid to avert the popular wish of the people by imposing political puppets whose stock in trade will be at the bidding of their godfathers.
The communiqué reads: “That the kangaroo meeting purported to have been held where the chairmanship position was zoned to the Unwueka was against the doctrine of equity, justice and fair play and should be discarded.
“We condemned in strong voice the activities of chairman of Divine Mandate Elders Council, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu whose mandate in the whole illegality was to install an errant boy who will be used as tool to execute his 2019 political ambition no matter whose ox is gored.’’
“We therefore state categorically that for the purpose of fairness, there is urgent need for all the aspirants to be given equal opportunities to test their might in the primaries so that a popular candidate will emerge.’’
Meanwhile, the youths of Ikwo council area have defiled the zoning arrangement to endorse a youth activist, Ugbala Chukwudi as the consensus candidate for the chairmanship position of the council.
The youths noted that it was only their preferred choice would ensure the victory of the PDP in 2019, as it warned the party against the plot of detractors to impose unpopular candidate in the council.
Ugbala stressed that his ambition was to hold the fortunes of the PDP in the council to ensure the smooth reelection of the state governor, whom he said has performed creditably in the development of the state.