…demand refund of money spent on nomination forms, rue undue disqualification, allege favouritism by Udo Ekpenyong
…“We were scammed into raising millions for party but thereafter treated with utter contempt”
Local Government Chairmanship aspirants under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have voiced out against their ill-treatment by the ruling party in the state.
The aspirants who spoke to TheMail Newspaper on Monday decried the level of ill-treatment they have so far received from the party, the governor and the government in general during and after the party primaries.
The aspirants who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimized or hounded by the ‘system’ said most of them were not allowed to stand election after buying nomination forms and meeting all other requirements of the party. They said even after such “disgraceful act”, the promise by the party that money for nomination forms purchased by them (the aspirants) would be refunded have not been fulfilled.
“We have tried dialogue and it is not working. We have been patient for many months now, thinking that the right thing would be done but it seems we are waiting in vain.
“Most of us met all the requirements of the party. First, the nomination form was too costly. It was way beyond what we budgeted for. But we still had to source for money to buy the form and stand for the primaries.
“But to our greatest surprise, we were disqualified for no just cause. Many of us were favoured by zoning and should have been allowed to go to the field to test our popularity. This is grassroots politics and it should be for the most qualified and popular aspirants.
“They gave excuses that we were screened out for not being favoured by the zoning arrangement in the LGA. But this is not true because most of us were duly favoured by the zoning structuring.
“We formed a forum of aspirants, met and took decisions. One of the demands we put before the party was a refund of our nomination form money. It would tantamount to great injustice and crass wickedness if we were not allowed to contest at the primary election and still our monies have not been refunded.
“Some of our colleagues in Ukanafun briefed the party chairman about our demands. What Udo Ekpenyong (PDP State Chairman) did is still shocking to some of us. Instead of coming to address the entire forum, he employed the divide-and-rule tactics. He refunded the N2.5m nomination form money to the Ukanafun and Oruk Anam chairmanship aspirants while telling them to dissociate themselves from us. The tactics may have yielded little fruits for him as some of our colleagues have chosen to be inactive with the hopes that they would be settled. But for now, we have over 80 active aggrieved aspirants in our forum”, said one of our sources. This position has however been corroborated by other members of the forum.
Another chairmanship aspirant who spoke to our reporter over the weekend said party primary for LG government elections have never been this terribly conducted, stating that if their concerns are not speedily addressed, many of them would stay back in the party and work against the governor’s plans to install a successor of his choice.
“At least, in times past, what was the case was that the aspirants would be allowed to stand election but the delegate list may be manipulated to favour a particular aspirant. This particular method they employed in the last LG primary election is more brutal and if not speedily addressed, may spell doom for the party. There is so much discontent in the party, especially amongst the councillorship and chairmanship aspirants. The governor as the leader of the party should step in and assuage our worries”, said the aspirant.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved PDP chairmanship aspirants under the aegis of A102 (Aggrieved 102) have said that they were scammed by the PDP into raising millions of Naira through nomination forms and other fees paid to the party and thereafter treated with utter contempt.
Arising from their maiden meeting held recently, the group expressed their dissatisfaction at the way they have been treated by the party.
The group said despite the outrageous fees for the forms, they were not given a level playing field while the leadership of the party “sat in one room to select their preferred candidates”.
The group further complained that the party has refused to dialogue with them, pretending that “the abracadabra that took place in the primaries were normal”.
“It is very bad for the governor’s image. Throughout the arbitrarily conducted processes, the names of the Governor and the First Lady were bandied brazenly as “this is what the system has decided”. If the ‘system’ has had already decided, what moral justification does the party have to collect millions of Naira from aspirants”, said the group.
“It is our belief that as grassrooters, we have a major stake with the delegates who were our supporters and are themselves very dissatisfied with the outcome of the whole process.
“We will join forces amongst ourselves across the state to ensure that internal democracy in the PDP in Akwa Ibom State is restored and not left in the hands of a few who see the party as their domestic affair. Never in the history of the nation has the price of the nomination forms been so exorbitant. The party belongs to all and such extortion can no longer be tolerated especially since we were not given a level playing ground”, the group said in a statement.
The aspirants bemoaned the way the reconciliation meetings initiated by the party was handled, stating that it was a total sham.
Membership of the group cuts across the entire federal constituency that make up Akwa Ibom State.