Ahead of October 31 national and state assemblies’ bye-elections in some constituencies across the country, controversy has continued to trail the conduct and results of the Senatorial primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River and Imo States respectively. This is just as immediate past Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake, Dickson, automatically clinched the ticket of the PDP for the Bayelsa West Senatorial District bye election.
By Nsa Gill, Calabar and Jide Orintunsin, Abuja
In Cross River, a former chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Stephen Odey was declared the winner of the PDP ticket in the Cross River North Senatorial bye-election. Stephen is alleged to be the preferred candidate of the State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade. His victory is however being trailed by controversy and protest from the camp of a serving member of the Federal House of Representatives, Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe.
The result announced yesterday at Ogoja council headquarters where the exercise held, saw Stephen polling 450 votes to defeat his closest rival Jarigbe, who garnered 90 votes. The chairman of the electoral panel, Olorogun Taleb Tebite, who declared the result, described the process as peaceful and orderly. One of the officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who observed the primaries, Amula Timotheus, also expressed satisfaction with the exercise.
On his part, the state governor, Professor Ben Ayade, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the exercise. He also commended INEC for playing their observatory role adequately. But in a swift reaction, Jerigbe in a telephone interview said he rejects the result as so many delegates were excluded and said he would take appropriate steps in seeking redress. Also speaking, the former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Venatius Ikem, said what transpired was not a true reflection of a parry primary because even Party, Jarigbe had to leave when he noticed the irregularities. Ikem who was also an automatic delegate from Obudu, alleged that some fake delegates were brought in from the back door just as officials from Government House and security agents manhandled delegates.
From Imo State, two separate reports were submitted to Prof. Ussiju Medaner Al-Mustapha, the Director of Organisation of the APC by the two factions of Election Committee to the party’s Thursday primary in Imo North Senatorial District. The submissions were made at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja. But a statement by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena on Thursday night, said that the party would only recognise primary conducted by the Senator Ajibola Bashiru-led committee following reports that parallel elections took place in the district.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Bashiru led three other members of the 7-man committee to return Frank Ibezim as the duly elected flag bearer of the party at the October 31 concurrent legislative by-election in the Senatorial district. Bashiru had the Committee’s Secretary, Chief Samuel Ogbuku, Senator Jibrin Gada and Bello Kumo with him when he arrived the party Secretariat at about 7:20 pm to present their report to the Director of Organisation of the party.
An hour later, Alhaji Umar Gana led two other members, Alhaji Mohammed Salihu Saba and Prince Godfrey Ejim to announce Senator Godwin Ararume as the duly elected party’s candidate for Imo North Senatorial district. Addressing newsmen after submission of their reports, the two groups accused each other and claimed to have the authentic result of the primary election. Senator Bashiru said he was at a loss for the action of the Gana led trio. He stated that all members of the committee participated in all the processes of conducting the election until the last minute when the other group were not to be found.
But the Umar Gana led group alleged that they had to go to the wards to conduct the election when the committee chairman and secretary were nowhere to be found. He alleged that the duo made themselves inaccessible. He alleged that after several attempts to convince the chairman and the secretary to hit the wards and supervise the election turned on deaf ears, he decided along with two others to go and conduct the election.
Meanwhile, immediate past Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, who had no opposition, has been nominated as the PDP candidate for the Bayelsa West Senatorial District. The Returning Officer, Barr Nicholas Obhiseh, returned Chief Dickson as the validly nominated candidate for the Senatorial contest having polled 334 out of 338 accredited delegates with four invalid votes. Speaking shortly after his nomination, Dickson commended the people for their unflinching dedication, loyalty, support and prayers throughout his eight years as governor and for finding him worthy of another serious mission.
The former Governor commended the party supporters from the senatorial district for the honour given to him to have the party’s ticket in spite of several top political leaders who are qualified for the contest. Chief Dickson praised the people for leaving all their engagements to troop out in the rain to welcome him back to the senatorial district.
He called on the people of Ekeremor and Sagbama, the two local government areas making up the senatorial district, to be resolute in defence òf the long standing power sharing agreement between the two local government areas making up the district. He advised the people to resist those who were out to destroy the prevailing peace and unity between the members of the two communities.