An aspirant in Ebonyi State APC, Prof Bernard Odoh, tells EDWARD NNACHI that the party’s governorship primary in the state was marred by irregularities
The All Progressives Congress has just concluded its primaries. Are you satisfied with the outcome of the exercise?
I am not satisfied with the outcome of the exercise at all because the process that brought up what we have at the moment is not credible. I have addressed a press conference where I made it clear that I rejected the exercise. The exercise was held on September 30. When the electoral committee arrived in Abakaliki, there was confusion over the Ezza South and Ikwo local government areas’ delegates list. Most delegates and leaders at the state level argued that the list from the national secretariat should not be used. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Domingo Obande, called the national legal adviser of the party, and put the phone on speaker that day. The legal adviser counselled that Obande’s committee should use the list they took along from Abuja to Ebonyi.
Meanwhile, it is the list they came with that is in contention now. On the strength of that call, he insisted and the primary was held. After the primary, we appealed. The appeal panel had concluded its investigation and submitted its recommendations to the national working committee of the party. The NWC has not given us any feedback, either affirming the recommendations or a rejecting them. So at the moment, we don’t know where we stand. I’m not satisfied because the authentic delegates from these two local governments, who voted for Mr. President on Friday, two days (September 28) before our own, were different from those who voted during our own primary. That means we now have two sets of delegates from the zone. That is why I insisted that the exercise is not credible. We have the result sheets signed by those delegates on Friday, before ours came on Sunday. I don’t think the party in its wisdom will issue two set of delegates lists, on two different elections. I don’t think so.
But you allegedly mounted pressure on the electoral panel to go ahead with the contentious delegates list.
It’s not true. They are quoting me out of context. I am not the state party chairman. So, I don’t have powers to direct the panel on what to do when they came here. The panel was sent by the national working committee of the party from Abuja. The party has a State Working Committee in Ebonyi. I am an ordinary party member and an aspirant. So, I don’t have the powers or the right to issue orders to the committee on how to do its work. Anybody who is quoting me to have said such is doing so out of context. I had issues with the list and I have appealed.
So, who do you think should be blamed for the irregularities that characterised the exercise in Ebonyi?
Let me put it this way. I am a member of the party and I paid money to buy the nomination forms in order to contest the governorship primary. I expected that the party would put its house in order and give us a credible exercise. From what has happened now, it is a case of leadership failure. If the chairman of the panel came from Abuja with a list, which is different from the one at the state level, then I have every right to doubt the credibility of the exercise. The Electoral Act is clear on this matter. Any delegates’ list that is not flowing from the congress is a nullity. I think the party should be blamed for this lack of credibility.
Do you think the party could defeat the ruling party in the state in 2019 going by the internal crisis rocking it now?
I still believe that necessary amendments will be done between now and the first week in December, which is still about six weeks away. Good enough, the judiciary has asked the various federal and state high courts handling electoral matters to speed-up the process so that there could be a window of space available now to tidy up all electoral matters and petitions. If this happens and we get our acts together, we still have between six and eight weeks to campaign for the main election. The key thing is that the ordinary man in the street should be satisfied with the process that brought people, who are running for election. Once that happens, we will win our election. But if things stand the way they are, we are in a mess already. Some persons won elections here; the results were declared in the open and there were video clips of the exercise. Unfortunately, names of the winners have been changed at the national secretariat of the party. How do you explain that kind of things? So, these issues must be properly addressed.
Will you continue to support the party to win the elections if the appeal panel comes with a verdict that is against your expectations?
I’m already in court. We expect the right thing to be done. There is even an issue with the appeal panel. It was supposed to be set-up before the last date of the primaries. But the panel was put up after the primaries were concluded. It’s been over three weeks now that I filed my appeal; I have not received any feedback. So, I’m not also satisfied with the process. In any case, I will continue to support the party.