[From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia; CHINEDU NWAFOR, Abakaliki]]
Governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State, Chief Ncheta Elvis Omerekpe, has advised the leadership of the state chapter to jettison the practice of choosing her governorship candidate by allowing a sitting governor to anoint his successor, if the party wishes to clinch the coveted governorship seat in 2023.
This is just as a group, under the aegis of the Association of Chairmen and Members of Boards and Commission in Ebonyi State alleged that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was plotting to destabilize the existing peace in the state through the recent court sacking of the Governor Umahi and his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe.
Chief Omerekpe, a business mogul and philanthropist, gave the advice Wednesday when he stormed the PDP state secretariat on Finbarr’s Road, Umuahia to inform the State Working Committee of his intention to contest in the 2023 governorship race in the state.
He said the greatest objective of the party was to win the governorship contest, and to achieve that, the governorship candidate for the 2023 poll should emerge through a democratic process where party delegates should freely vote whoever they preferred, instead of anointing one person and forcing the person on the party.
“We have been experiencing a tradition since 1999 in which the governor anoints his successor. Abia is ready for change. No anointed candidate will win,” he said emphatically.
The outspoken politician suggested that instead of threading the path of imposing a candidate on the party, the party leadership should organize a public debate for her galaxy of governorship aspirants for proper evaluation of the capacity of each aspirant.
“I call on the party to organize a debate for all PDP Governorship aspirants, a forum we will use to showcase our programmes for the state. This would help the party to select the best.
“We should be civil during the debate but we should be ready to speak the truth and expose those who have stolen public funds. During the debate, they (aspirants) should tell Abia people how and when they acquired their wealth,” he said.
Making a veiled reference to alleged anointing of Prof. Uche Ikonne as the preferred governorship candidate of the party, Omerekpe scoffed at the development, saying: “Ikpeazu travelled and his boys are doing business with Government House. I wish them well. They anointed someone who is over 70 years. I am grateful to Ikpeazu. Anyone who sees him should relay to him that I love him so much. If it is true that he has anointed somebody, he has given me a rival that I would easily defeat.”
The aspirant said he was one of the oldest members of Abia PDP and has been financing the party. According to him, when Senator Orji Uzor Kalu brought PDP to Abia, he (Omerekpe) was the first person to donate N10 million to the party.
He also said the renovated the party secretariat in the look it was wearing currently and promised that if elected, he would give priority to welfare of party officials; while warning them against electing somebody who would turn his back on the party.
On his mission, Omerekpe said: “I want to state that I have come to formally declare my intention to contest and win the governorship seat in 2023.”
Responding, the State Chairman of the party, Dr. Alwell Asiforo Okere, while wishing Omerekpe well, urged aspirants for the 2023 general elections to avoid campaign of calumny.
“As we go about in our consultations, I want to advise that we should as much as possible be civil in our conduct and utterances. Go about your consultations in an orderly manner and with decorum. PDP is bigger than all of us and we cannot afford to plunge the party into chaos,” Okere said, while assuring that the party would provide level playing ground for all aspirants.
Earlier while presenting Omerekpe to the state party leadership, a member of Abia State House of Assembly representing Isiala Ngwa North State Constituency, Hon. Ginger Onwusibe, described Omerekpe as a philanthropist who has impacted on many lives positively and built infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the Association of Chairmen and Members of Boards and Commission in Ebonyi State has alleged that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was plotting to destabilize the existing peace in the state.
The group stated this on Wednesday in Abakaliki while briefing Journalists on the recent Court judgement which sacked Governor Umahi and his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe.
Chairman of the group, and Member one, Local Government Service Commission, Ebonyi State, Mr Tony Abel, who briefed Journalists on behalf of the group, said the members of the PDP had been doing so, through their activities and utterances.
They condemned the development and urged them to desist forthwith.
According to Mr Abel, the dysfunctional move by enemies of the state led by the opposition forces in PDP to remove the elected governor unconstitutionally is totally unacceptable and shall be resisted by the people of Ebonyi State.
The statement reads: “That the Boards and Commissions condemned in its totality the activities of the opposition elements in the state and their latest plots to cause breach of peace in the state through inflammatory statement and alterations of court processes.
“The Boards and Commissions was aware that the Governor of Ebonyi State was duly elected and sworn in on May 29th, 2019 to serve a mandate of four years expiring on May 29th, 2023.
“That the Governor of Ebonyi State has done Ebonyi people proud and making Ebonyi State the fastest growing state in Africa history and turning Ebonyi State into a global village with unprecedented infrastructural and human capacity development.
“The dysfunctional move by enemies of the state led by the opposition forces in PDP to remove the elected governor unconstitutionally is totally unacceptable and shall be resisted by the people of Ebonyi State.
“We state categorically clear that the Boards and Commissions and indeed Ebonyi people are solidly behind the Governor and stand solidly with him in the prayers challenging the decisions of the Federal High Court of March 20, 2022.
“That the Boards and Commissions are aware of the subsisting judgement of a Court of competent jurisdiction that the Governor has not offended any law , constitution or any judicial authority or the Supreme Court in his defection to APC. That Ebonyi people are proudly APC and shall continue to remain APC and shall do everything possible to mobilize forces to deliver APC come 2023.”