By Chukwudi Nweje
Who is the validly recognized governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Ebonyi State? The above question has continued to re-echo in the minds of politicians, major stakeholders and people of the agrarian state after the primary election of the party.
There is a contention over the validity of the two primaries held on May 28 to 29 that produced Dr Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii and Senator Obinna Ogba on June 4/5.
It has become a ding dong political scenario. The drama is that while Odii emerged in the first primary election on June 4th and 5th that was recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Senator Ogba has been given a certificate of return by his party, the PDP. So, literally, while Odii is recognized by INEC, Ogba’s is banking on his party which has given him a Certificate of Return.
However, the 3-man Delegates List used for the first primary was the outcome of the state PDP Congress of May 7, 2022 which was eventually recognised by the PDP National Working Committee(NWC).
The Primary was properly authorised by the PDP NWC and was peacefully conducted with the INEC monitoring the exercise in line with the Electoral Guidelines and the 2022 Electoral Act and Odii’s name thereafter forwarded to INEC on June 10.
However, even though in the first primary, Odi emerged the candidate of the party but the national leadership of the PDP had in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, cancelled the exercise, claiming that the panel that conducted the election was not properly constituted.
But Odii approached a Federal High Court in Abakaliki which delivered a judgement on the 7th of June and upheld his election as the governorship candidate of the party.
Surprisingly, the party ignored the judgement, and proceeded to issue Ogba a Certificate of Return as the recognised candidate of the PDP in the state.
Senator Ogba, whose governorship primary election was conducted on June 4th and 5th, 2022, reacting on the development, had told Newsmen in Abakaliki that he remained the authentic governorship candidate of the party as he has received the PDP’s Certificate of Return.
He assured his rival, Chief Odii that he was going to defeat him in court against all odds.
Ogba said, “Certificate of Return has been given to me and the results of our primary election has been accepted by the PDP in Abuja. We have appealed the court case. Nigeria is not a banana Republic.
“Court doesn’t belong to anyone but to everybody. They will look at it and know who is at fault. Nobody can take the mandate of our people from the backyard. I am happy with the PDP delegates who expressed their choice of my person.
“The way I defeated him in practical terms is the same way I will defeat him in court. I don’t belong to hearsay or gossip. Ebonyi people shouldn’t be fooled.
I am going to serve him. I am the candidate of PDP for Ebonyi State Governorship in the 2023 general election. The case in court is a pre-election matter. It will get to the Supreme court.”
But in a quick reaction, the Director of Media & Publicity of AnyiChuks Campaign Organization, Chief Abia Onyike, called on Senator Ogba to stop deceiving the general public as to his current status after the party’s primary election.
He explained that on June 10, 2022, the National body of the party obeyed the Court Order by forwarding the names of all the candidates elected during the legitimate primaries of May 28 and 29 , 2022 to INEC and the processing of their forms have commenced.
In a press release titled, “The time for Truth and Reconcilation has come”, Onyike described “the parallel primaries conducted on the 4th and 5th of June, as an anti-democratic intervention by some powerful forces who were hell-bent on reversing the popular will of the people. “
He said: “The ruling of the Federal High Court in Abakaliki on 7th June, 2022 restoring the authenticity of the first primaries which elected Dr. Odi was a historic confirmation of the democratic will of Ebonyi PDP cadres as against the dictatorship and imposition by a few godfathers.
“The PDP governorship candidate today is Dr Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odi. He won the primary election conducted by the PDP on 28 and 29 of May, 2022. The 3-man Delegates List used for the primary election was the outcome of the State PDP Congress of 7th May, 2022 which was eventually recognised by the PDP National Working Committee(NWC).
“That Primary Election was properly authorized by the PDP NWC and was peacefully conducted with the INEC monitoring the exercise in line with the Electoral Guidelines and the 2022 Electoral Act. An attempt by the opposition to cancel the successfully conducted Primary Election suffered a setback.
“The PDP Governorship Candidate in the person of Dr Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odi is willing and ready to provide leadership and to reconcile the members of the party after the divisions arising from the internal power struggle.
“We appeal to the leaders and members of our great party in the state to embrace the path of maturity and reconciliation at this moment to enable us focus on the common enemy as we gradually approach the 2023 general elections. “We should quickly recover from the fallouts of the primary elections and close ranks in the interest of our people and the future of the state.”
Meanwhile, the INEC has affirmed the May 29, 2022 primary election of the PDP in Ebonyi that produced Dr. Odii as the governorship candidate.
This is apart from the judgement of the Federal High Court, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, nullifying the rescheduled PDP governorship primary election in Ebonyi and declaring Dr. Odii as the authentic candidate of the party.
In the INEC report exclusively obtained by our reporter, the Commission concluded that the governorship primary election of the PDP, held on May 29, 2022 was “successfully held as scheduled.”
The report dated May 30, 2022, was signed by the Head of Department of INEC Elections and Party Monitoring Department (EPM) in Ebonyi State, C. C. Nwodo, Anayo Onyejekwe and Oko Kelechi for the Ebonyi State team while Musa Husunu, Esther Ofoegbu and Abiodun O. Lawal signed as Monitoring Team from the INEC headquarters in Abuja.
In the report, Dr Nwazunku Augustine Alugbala scored one vote, Mr Nwankwo Fidelis Nwibo had one vote, Ogbaga Sylvester got 8 votes, Dr Eze Emmanuel Eze, one vote; Christian Usulor, 9 votes; Chief Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odili scored 349 votes, Dr Andrew Sunday Opoke got six votes and Senator Paulinus Igwe Nwagu, one vote.
The report reads in part, “the Peoples Democratic Party organized its governorship primary for the purpose of electing her flag bearer in Ebonyi State. It was held as scheduled on the 29th May, 2022.
“The venue of the Governorship Primary was the PDP State Secretariat along Abakaliki/Enugu Express way. The Primary was jointly monitored by the state and Abuja Teams. The monitoring exercise was coordinated by HOD EPM, INEC, Ebonyi State and the leader of Abuja Team.
“A seven member Electoral Committee was on ground to oversee the conduct of the Primary.”
Members of the Electoral Committee were listed as Chris Okolo, Chairman; Olalekan Rotimi, Secretary; Barnabas O. Kunwa, Cynthia Nana Bala, Comrade Chidi Chidiebere, Mr Joseph Ode and Mrs Joy Odike as members.”
The report reads further, “INEC concluded that the Governorship Primary election of the PDP in Ebonyi State was successfully held as scheduled.
“Though not timeous because of the other levels of primaries earlier held that day before the commencement of the Governorship Primary, it was hitch free. The accreditation and voting process were smooth and devoid of rancour. There was adequate security at the venue of the primary.
“The Governorship Primary was largely held in accordance with the party guidelines for primaries, congresses and conventions. Gender representation and spread was noticed among delegates and one female was on the ballot.
“The outcome/result was generally accepted by delegates present. The governorship primary was generally well organized and could be adjudged to be free, fair and credible. It was orderly, peaceful, transparent and conclusive.”
Based on the INEC report, the conclusion in many quarters is that Dr Odii remains the authentic 2023 governorship candidate of Ebonyi State.
Dr. Odii is a businessman and philanthropist with vast experience spanning over 20 years in building and managing businesses across various sectors. He is the Founder/Chairman of Orient Global Group with subsidiary companies; Orient Global Manufacturing, Orient Haulage & Logistics, and Purity Agro-Allied Ltd. He is also the President/CEO of Ultimus Holdings with subsidiary companies; Ultimus Construction, Ultimus Properties, Ultimus Global Integrated (owners of The Classroom by Ultimus), and Viarmor Healthcare Ltd. With investment portfolios that cut across manufacturing, shipping, logistics, construction, real estate, healthcare, trade, and services, Dr. Ifeanyi is a venture capitalist and has successfully grown these businesses outside the shores of the country and subsequently extended to Sub-Sharan Africa.
He is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School where he underwent a Chief Executive programme and also has a B.Sc. in Business Administration from the National Open University of Nigeria. He was conferred with a Doctor of Science Degree in Strategic Business Management & Corporate Governance by the European American University in the Republic of Panama. He was a member of the Lagos State University’s 11th Governing Council and currently a member of the Lagos State University’s 12th Governing Council and the Nnamdi Azike University Business School’s 1st Governing Council in Anambra State. Ifeanyi Odii is also a member of the Prosperis Holdings board of directors. He has over the years honed his skills in Leadership, Management and Business Strategy.
Through the Ebele and Anyichuks Foundation, which he founded and named after himself and his wife; he has over the years built over 130 homes for the indigents in rural areas, 6 churches, 3 Floors of Primary and secondary school, provided scholarships to over 1000 students home and abroad, provided yearly medical screening and support through his foundation. His great love of sports led him to establish the Anyichuks Unity Cup, a yearly sports tournament held in his hometown to encourage, empower youths and promote sports at the grassroots level. Asides from his passion for his businesses and his love for his family, he enjoys reading, swimming, keeping fit, and golfing as he is an ardent member of several golf clubs in Lagos
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