Rumbles in Edo PDP over election funds
Although they claimed the reason for the call for sack of the leadership was connected to the party’s inability to win major elections since it came into office, The Guardian reliably gathered that the in-fighting is as a result of funds meant for the last general elections that allegedly disappeared into private pockets.
The first signs that all is not well with the party was shortly after the general elections, when there was allegation in a local government area in Edo North Senatorial District that only half of the N50 million released to the council for the Presidential and National Assembly elections was declared. The other half was said to have missed as those accused of the incident claimed they counted N500 notes hidden in bundles of N1000 notes.
This excuse did not go down well with the party members in the area and few days ago, the leader of the party at the centre of the controversy stepped down when the party members who met to review the conduct of the last election refused to believe his story of the missing money. It was few days after the leaders calling for the dissolution of the leadership bared their mind in a letter addressed to the national leadership of the party.
The letter signed by Abolagba, S.S.Mayaki and 18 other leaders across the six local councils in Edo North, was read to journalists in a well-attended rally in Auchi .
The leaders under the aegis of PDP Adherents (Edo North Must Win) in the letter said “Edo North PDP leaders should be allowed to determine its political future rather than its political future being determined by non-Edo North leaders or Edo North leaders perceived to be loyal to some national leaders of the party”.
The leaders lamented what they described as mass exodus of their members to the APC, regretting that rather than find solution to the problem, the current leadership of the party in the state “has continued to embark on actions capable of causing disunity and destruction of the party in Edo state and Edo North in particular.
“Having looked at the situation which is unacceptable, we have come to conclusion that the present leaderships of the party at all levels in the state cannot lead the party to victory in future elections neither can they bring about unity among members. Therefore we are asking them to go so that we can put our best people in power ahead the 2016 governorship election in the state”.
Abulagba thereafter warned that the PDP stands no chance of winning the 2016 governorship election in the state unless the entire executive of the party in the state leaves the scene for fresh blood to be injected into the party.
According to him, “what the chairman of the PDP in our state, Chief Dan Orbih is giving us right now is glamorous opposition done during press conferences and that will not win us any election because it is a known fact that Edo state voters, more than 90 per cent of them don’t have televisions and they don’t read papers. When you are relying on press conferences and rallies you are only addressing 10 per cent of voters in Edo state and that cannot give us victory”.
Abulagba who was the Deputy Governorship candidate of the PDP in 2012 governorship election “the present executive led by Chief Orbih doesn’t believe in winning elections. Because we don’t have a governor in the state, the chairman is seen as the governor so we are sure that the chairman is enjoying that status. They don’t believe in internal party democracy, he governs the party as a sole administrator.
Curiously the All Progressives Congress (APC) also demanded the resignation of Orbih over allegation of misappropriation of about N1.5 billion made from sales of forms for aspirants and grants to candidates after the primaries of the party.
State Publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Godwin Erhahon in a chat with journalists, alleged that since the national leadership of the PDP is currently probing Orbih he now lacked the moral right to remain in his position.
Though the spokesperson of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, described the allegations as frivolous, asserting that “the APC is just cooking up lies because we called on the EFCC to probe the finances of the local councils which the APC government in the state misappropriated leading to council workers not being paid,” The Guardian gathered that some leaders of the PDP are not happy with the development as they prepare for next year’s governorship election.
However a prominent leader of the party from the Edo North and the party’s senatorial candidate in the last election, Paschal Ugbome defended Orbih saying the call for his resignation was not necessary.
He said “what we see as a crack in PDP in the state, for me I call it a storm in a tea cup, it shows that PDP as an organic institution is alive, well and kicking, otherwise you will not hear anything about the party. Naturally in every human existence, there are occasions where people will always express dissenting opinion or views. But that is democracy. The allegation that the leadership led by Dan Orbih is not winning elections is not correct.
“I want to say that the leadership of the party under Orbih has been very wonderful in discharging its responsibility as an opposition party. And progressively Chief Orbih and members of his leadership has been able to market PDP to Edo people and that is why you will not be surprised that we have about four to five very distinguished Edo citizens making frantic effort to pick the ticket of the party in the next gubernatorial elections.
“These are very serious human beings, tested and trusted. I am sure if the party was a joke they would not have been spending their money to aspire to lead Edo state. If you look at the performance of the party in the last elections, we won the presidential election here, even we did better than states where serving governors were PDP governors.
“But here in a very hostile political climate, doing battle with a dogged governor who is a fighter but we were able to clinch two Senatorial and five House of Representatives seats under the leadership of Orbih and you say we are not winning elections. These gentlemen that are making noise, calling for the removal of Orbih could not even deliver their units during the elections. Johnson Abulagba for instance who is leading the opposition could not deliver his unit, could not deliver his ward or his constituency, are you going to blame Orbih for that?
“This is Orbih who has always delivered his unit and ward even in an election conducted by the APC government in Edo state, the chairmanship election, he was able to return a councilor. The chairman will not leave Ogbona and go to Abulagba’s village to help him deliver his unit or his ward. It is very unfortunate that things that will make people ashamed are celebrated.
“Why has Abulagba suddenly became a rebel or a freedom fighter, because he lost out in the primaries when he wanted to fly the party’s flag in the last House of Representatives elections? It is now he realized that the party does not win elections, if he had gotten the ticket would he have complained? For some of us we have been able to play politics of principles and those who do not have principles find it difficult to fit into the new PDP.”
To check the tide against the party’s leadership, Orbih, over the weekend set up a 17-man Reconciliation and Mobilization Committee to bring together all aggrieved members and to mobilize supporters and members of the party across the three senatorial districts ahead of the 2016 governorship election in the state. Media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, heads the committee.
While inaugurating the committee at the party’s secretariat, Orbih said the body “is an all important one” whose “efforts would go a long way to boost the support base of PDP in the state.” The members were drawn from the three Senatorial Districts of the state.