Governorship primaries of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Enugu, Abia, Borno, Taraba and Ogun states were on Wednesday characterised by violence, protests and withdrawal of aspirants.
Prominent governorship aspirants including a former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; former Senator representing Enugu East Senatorial District, Gilbert Nnaji; the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and the Abia State Deputy Governor, Chief Ude Oko-Chukwu, withdrew from the race.
As aspirants stepped down from the race, there was shock on Wednesday when a presidential hopeful, Mr Peter Obi, dumped the party and his presidential ambition.
Wednesday’s PDP governorship primaries were held in 28 states, where next year’s governorship election will take place.
In Niger State, a protest over the authenticity of the delegates’ list forced the PDP to postpone its governorship primary.
The four out of the five aspirants threatened to stage a walk-out if their demand of ensuring proper identification of all the proposed 800 delegates was not met.
One of the the aggrieved aspirants, Isah Jankara, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the exercise could only go ahead if all the delegates properly identified themselves with driving licence, national identity card or passports.
The Chairman of the Election Committee, Mr Ewhrudjakpo, who met the aggrieved aspirants was unable to resolve the problem.
Ewhrudjakpo was left with no option but to direct all delegates to get a means of identifying themselves and shifted the exercise to Thursday.
The four protesting aspirants are Sani Kutigi, Alhaji Sidi Abdul; a former Minister of Sports, Abdulrahman Gimba; and Abubakar Isah.
Youths stone Ishaku’s convoy
Violence characterised the party’s primary in Taraba State as some angry youths stoned the convoy of Governor Darius Ishaku over alleged imposition of Col. Kefas Agbu (retd.) as the PDP governorship candidate.
The angry youths mostly from Taraba North and Central zones attacked the convoy of the governor and his deputy, Haruna Manu, who were on their way out of the Pastoral Centre, venue of the meeting to broker a consensus arrangement.
The governor was said to have called the meeting of all the aspirants to persuade them to step down for Kefas, but most of the aspirants refused to withdraw.
The youths, who got wind of the plot of the governor to convince the aspirants to step down, barricaded the gate of Pastoral Centre chanting, ‘We no go gree, we no go gree.’
Though some vehicles were smashed in the process, security personnel whisked away the governor, his deputy and fired gunshots in the air to disperse angry youths.
Our correspondent reports that since last week when a retired general directed that Kefas be the party’s candidate, there had been tension as various groups kicked against the decision.
Kefas was on Wednesday evening announced the winner.
Gun shots rent as Adebutu, Lawal’s supporters clash, disrupt Ogun PDP primaries
Pandemonium broke out at the governorship primary of the PDP in Ogun State following the sporadic gun shots that rented the air.
Journalists and party delegates who were at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta on Wednesday, scampered for safety as loyalists of two governorship aspirants, Oladipupo Adebutu and Jimi Lawal, clashed over the delegates’ list to be adopted for the exercise.
The exercise which started around 5pm was disrupted following a shouting match and clash over the delegates’ list.
Our correspondent gathered that there was tension over the agitation for the use of the delegates’ list from the party headquarters.
Trouble started shortly after the PDP electoral panel, headed by Prof Akase Sorkaa, announced the mode of conduct of the exercise.
Our correspondent who was at the venue observed that some loyalists of Lawal, an ex-banker, raised an objection, rejecting a delegates’ list brought from the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.
This led to a shouting match between supporters of Lawal and Adebutu who also engaged one another in pushing and shoving.
One of the media aides of Lawal, Austin Oniyokor, who brought some documents claiming to have been certified by INEC, insisted that the exercise must not take place unless the document was adopted.
The drama which lasted for over 30 minutes saw security operatives helpless while INEC officials temporarily relocated from the hall.
“This exercise cannot be conducted with a fake list. These are INEC-generated documents. These are your certified documents,” Oniyokor shouted while addressing INEC officials.
While still waiting for the party officials to find solutions to the impasse, sound of gunshots from outside the hall caused journalists and other delegates to scamper for safety.
Meanwhile, a governorship aspirant, Segun Showunmi, has been declared as the party’s governorship candidate by a faction .
The faction which held a primary at the Nigeria Union of Journalists secretariat, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, announced Showunmi as the PDP governorship candidate in the state .
The Chairman of electoral committee, Abayomi Daniel, announced Showunmi as winner after polling 554 votes to defeat his closest rival, Lawal, who scored 30 votes, while Adebutu polled 15 votes.
According to Daniel, a total number of 778 delegates were accredited, 702 votes were cast while three votes were voided.
“By the power conferred on me by the national leadership of our great party, as the chairman, electoral committee of the PDP governorship primary election in Ogun State, I hereby declare Hon. Segun Sowunmi as the winner of the election having polled the highest number of votes and he is hereby returned and elected”, Daniel said.
Sowunmi in his acceptance speech, called on other aspirants to work together with him to secure victory for the party in the 2023 general election.
The Borno State governorship primary of the party was also rocked by a crisis as members alleged that the delegates’ list had been manipulated in favour of the state chairman.
A national delegate, Bukar Petro, at the venue of the primary in Maiduguri told The PUNCH that the state party Chairman, Zanna Gaddama, and the party secretary, Ali Aliyu, were attempting to tamper with the delegates’ list to favour Mohammed Imam, one of the aspirants.
The immediate past Zamfara State Deputy Governor, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau, recently impeached by the state House of Assembly, also withdrew from the governorship race.
Gusau who announced his withdrawal through his Principal Private Secretary, Umar Aminu, in Gusau on Wednesday did not give reasons for his decision to step down from the contest.
Emmanuel’s loyalist wins as two aspirants step down
In Akwa Ibom State, two governorship aspirants – Senator Bassey Akpan and Onofiok Luke – also withdrew from the race.
In their separate letters addressed to the state party chairman, Aniekan Akpan, and copied to the national party chairman, the aspirants cited a subsisting order of a Federal High Court as the reason for their action.
Luke also cited the exclusion of statutory delegates from the primary as reason for his withdrawal
Despite the withdrawal of the two aspirants, the anointed aspirant of the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, Pastor Umo Eno, won the primary.
Eno, a former Commissioner of Lands, polled a total of 993 votes. A total of 1018 delegates were accredited to vote at the primary.
Mba wins as Ekweremadu, three others withdraw
In Enugu, besides Ekweremadu, Nnaji Josef-Ken Onoh and Everest Nnaji popularly known as Ondengene also withdrew from the race.
Although Ekweremadu didn’t mention why he stepped down, Onoh and the two Nnajis withdrew to support to an oil mongul, Peter Mbah.
As of 6 .30pm, there was anxiety at the Katsina PDP primary as voting had yet to start at the state secretariat of the party located along Katsina-Kano road.
There was a heavy presence of security agents in and around the secretariat.
The acting state chairman of the party, Salisu Uli, however said the primary would still hold.
He said the delay was being caused by the non arrival of five out of seven members of the committee that would organise the exercise.
Abaribe alleges use of imaginary delegates, steps down, Ikonne wins
The Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, who withdrew from the Abia State governorship race, in a statement, cited the use of only imaginary ad hoc delegates to the exclusion of the party’s statutory delegates as the reason for not taking part in the election.
Also, the Deputy Governor of the state, Chief Ude Oko-Chukwu, described the delegates’ list as a scam, skewed to actualise a predetermined objective.
Professor Uche Ikonne won the party’s primary in the state.
He polled a total number of 468 to defeat Chief Lucky Igbokwe who came a distant second with 45 votes, while Mrs Ezenwanyi Jonah got five votes.
A former National Vice-Chairman of the party (South-South) and Chairman, Electoral Committee, Emmanuel Ogidi, confirmed the withdrawal of four Lagos State aspirants to newsmen at the venue of the event on Wednesday.
According to Ogidi, four aspirants, who backed down from the race in the interest of party stability, included Jim Kamal, Adedeji Doherty, Rhodes Gbadebo, and Ade Dosumu.
Olajide Adediran emerged the winner of the primary. Of the 709 accredited delegates, Adediran got 679 votes as against a paltry 20 votes garnered by his opponent, David Kolawole-Vaughan, while 10 votes were void.
Deputy gov absent, Makinde’s opponent kicks as gov wins
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State won the PDP governorship ticket to seek re-election in the 2023 election.
The governor polled 1,040 votes while his challenger, Dr Azeem Gbolarumi, scored two votes.
The returning officer, Abdulahi Maibasira, declared Makinde the winner of the contest.
Gbolarumi when called to address the delegates before voting commenced, alleged that some loyalists of the governor violently chased away delegates loyal to him away from the stadium.
He left the venue after his speech.
The Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan, was however absent from the venue of the primary election fuelling the speculation that the governor had dropped him as his running mate ahead of the 2023 poll.
The governor acknowledged the presence of dignitaries present but he did not mention the name of his deputy.
A former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who recently joined the Nasarawa State governorship race on the platform of the PDP withdrew from the race hours into the commencement of the election.
Speaking on Wednesday at the venue of the PDP primary, Maku said he had wide consultations with friends and associates including stakeholders of the party before deciding to withdraw from the contest. A former member of the House of Representatives, David Ombugadu, won the primary.
Fintiri emerges Adamawa candidate
In Adamawa State, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri emerged the governorship candidate of the party.
Announcing the result, the Chairman of the PDP governorship Primary Committee, Gebon Kataps, said the governor polled 663 votes out of 668 accredited delegates’ votes cast with five invalid votes.
Benue Speaker picks PDP governorship ticket
The Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Titus Uba, emerged the party’s candidate when he defeated his strong rival, the deputy governor of the state, Benson Abounu, and three others.
The Speaker polled 731 votes while the Deputy Governor garnered 81 votes. A total of 851 delegates voted during the primary.
Okowa-backed Speaker defeats Ibori’s aspirants
The incumbent Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Mr Sheriff Oborevwori, emerged the winner of the PDP primary in the state with a total of 590 votes.
Oborevwori who is alleged to be backed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa defeated Mr David Edevbie, James Ibori’s preferred candidate, who polled a total of 113 votes to clinch the second position.
A former Managing Director of Sun Trust Bank Muhammad Barde won the primary in Gombe State. Jibrin Barde scored 160 out of the total votes cast.
Obi dumps PDP amid coalition talks with Kwankwaso, others
Meanwhile, a former Governor of Anambra State and presidential hopeful, Peter Obi, has dropped out of the presidential race of the PDP amid talks with the Rabiu-Kwankwaso-led New Nigeria Peoples Party, the Labour Party and the Social Democratic Party, The PUNCH has learnt.
It was learnt that Obi’s defection was part of a grand plot to form a coalition that could defeat the All Progressives Congress and the PDP.
In a letter of resignation addressed to the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, the former governor said he was happy to have contributed to the growth of the PDP.
He further stated that recent developments within the party had made it impossible for him to continue in the race.
The letter read in part, “I am writing to intimate you of my resignation from the PDP which was conveyed to the Chairman of Agulu Ward 2, Anaocha LGA Anambra, effective Friday, May 20, 2022. Consequently, I am by this letter informing you of my withdrawal for the PDP Presidential Primary.
“It has been a great honour to contribute to nation-building efforts through our party. Unfortunately, recent developments within our party make it practically impossible to continue participating and making such constructive contributions.
“Our national challenges are deep-seated and require that we each make profound sacrifices towards rescuing our country. My commitment to rescuing Nigeria remains firm, even if the route differs. I wish to thank you personally for your graciousness and leadership. I wish you well and best of luck in the service of country.”
Obi, who enjoys massive support from the youths, had purchased the N40m form of the PDP and was screened to participate in the primary against 14 others on Saturday.
However, it had been difficult for him to bring many of the delegates to his side.
“We are in talks with Labour Party, SDP and a few others. We will announce our new party in the next 24 hours. It will be a party that is also youth-friendly since we have discovered that the youths form the bulk of our supporters,” said an associate of the former governor.
Another source, however, told The PUNCH that the plan was to form a coalition that could defeat the two major parties.
“There is a plan for some major parties to form a mega party although this is coming quite late. Discussions are still ongoing but Obi is expected to be the presidential candidate. Kwankwaso is also part of the discussions. Everything will be clear by Thursday,” said a chieftain of the PDP.
Attempts to get a reaction from the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, proved abortive as he did not respond to repeated calls.