By Onome Oghenetega
Ahead of the forthcoming Delta State local government election, palpable tension is reportedly brewing in the Isoko South LGA chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over plot by ward executives to illegally edge out aspirants jostling for elective offices.
It was learnt that the ward executives in the council who are alleged to be carrying out the hatchet job for a top leader of the party in the area were subjecting aspirants to unconstitutional processes against the constitution of the PDP.
The party executives were alleged to be carrying out mock primary to filter the number of aspirants jostling to fly the party’s flag in the election.
Several leaders and some of the aspirants intending to run on the PDP platform confirmed the action of the various ward executives in the council to our correspondent.
One of the leaders explained that trouble started when aspirants of the party began consultation with leaders of the PDP in the council to indicate interest for the council chairmanship and councillorship seats for the forthcoming election.
“With the growing number, the party caucus, as a proactive measure, directed the executives to liaise with their ward leaders to try to prune down the number of aspirants through dialogue and persuasion and report back to it.
“ However, the ward executives are said to be overreaching their mandate by not only disregarding the ward leaders to unilaterally drive the process but forcing the aspirants into ward primaries without guidelines and regulations”, our sources explained.
An intending aspirant, who lamented the development, stressed that the action of the ward executives would not only lead to disaffection within the party, but also unconstitutional and unacceptable to members of the party.
The aspirant posited that members of the party in the affected wards are increasingly feeling unease with suspicions of an orchestration by an unnamed stalwart to pervert the process with a view to impeding the chances of popular and more qualified aspirants from emerging from the wards to the local government primaries.
Party members are said to have sworn to resist the moves at all cost while and many members of the local government party caucus are worried that the development, if not checked, could lead to disharmony which can affect the electoral strength of the party in the wards and across the local government.
A caucus member in Oleh, the headquarters of the local government, who craved anonymity, explained that while the caucus only wanted to encourage engagement among the aspirants and their ward leaders to control the number of aspirants, it did not authorise the ward executives to conduct any form of primaries as that is beyond their powers, especially even so as guidelines and regulations for primaries have not been officially released as required by the PDP constitution for elections at all levels.
“Even the state electoral commission has not proclaimed the election, date and schedule. There is no clarity yet if the elections will hold this year or will be next year. So what is the haste? Rather than heating up the system, dragging the aspirants up and down and creating unnecessary tensions, why not leave them to keep on with their consultations until there is a clear schedule, guidelines and regulations for the process?”
“Interestingly, a group of aspirants have come together to raise these issues with the caucus leadership. I find that as a sign that the emerging leaders, many of whom are the actual mobilisers in their wards, are responsibly poised to protect and compete healthily by the constitution of the party.
“I believe that caucus will be mindful of the issues raised and take steps to de-escalate the growing tension so as to avert any form of crisis in the party in the local government. Let them however remain calm because I also believe that His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the leader of the party, and the state executive committee will not subscribe to any unconstitutional process, no matter who is behind the orchestration”, another leader of the party in the area posited.
Efforts by this correspondent to speak with the state chairman of the party, Olorogun Kingsley Esiso, on the development proved abortive as calls to his telephone line ranged out.