Some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State have accused Governor Theodore Orji of gaming the Peoples Democratic Party primary process in order to impose himself and associates as party candidates. The irate party members said Mr. Orji perfected a game to ensure that his own son emerges as his successor after he leaves the seat of governor.
“Chief Theodore Orji knows he is very unpopular in the state. Therefore he is conducted party primaries in order for handpicked candidates for [a] majority positions in the state,” said one of the senior party members opposed to the governor’s plan.
Our source and three other aggrieved party members said Governor Orji had manipulated the process for choosing party delegates. “Instead of allowing for elections, he merely wrote the names of people he wants as delegates so that they [handpicked delegates] would agree to his choices of candidates for the 2015 general elections,” another source alleged.
“There is no record of any election of delegates. The election of delegates was slated for 1st of November in the state, but it did not hold,” one party member said.
“Each local government area is supposed to have three delegates. To our shock, the names of the three delegates from each LGA were announced, but we are aware no elections held,” a spokesman for the protesting group said.
Some of the disaffected members said they had written a protest letter to the national leadership of the PDP in Abuja, to no avail. “We complained and protested over the absence of any election that produced the delegates, but that the party has so far ignored us,” said one member.
In addition to the failure to elect delegates, the PDP members also said that the election of candidates to represent the party in various electoral contests for the 2015 elections also did not hold. “The delegates were supposed to vote in the primaries to determine the candidates for the State House of Assembly, Federal House of Representatives, Senate, and governorship, but again elections were held according to Governor orji’s terms,” the group insisted.
They said that even the handpicked delegates had expected to vote on November 29th for party candidates, but they were disappointed as no election held.
“They stayed in the queue till evening. They left when it became clear that no elections would hold,” one source said.
Despite the absence of elections, Mr. Orji used state-sponsored media to claim that candidates had been successfully elected by the Abia chapter of the PDP for all the elections in 2015.
“I am very happy with the party delegates for conducting themselves peacefully and casting their votes in an atmosphere that could be described as free and fair,” Governor Orji was quoted as saying.
The aggrieved party members argued that the state governor should have apologized for undermining the primary process instead of gloating that the process had worked credibly. “We expected an apology, and announcement of a new date for the election to hold properly. Instead, the Abia State PDP went ahead with the governor’s game, ignoring our complaints,” a member of the group said.
“Olisa Metuh knows about this fraud, but he is quiet because the arrangement is to keep loyalists in Abia to help President Jonathan secure the state for the presidential election,” one aggrieved party member said.
The most serious allegation by the PDP group is that Mr. Orji had come up with a plan to impose his son, Chinedu Orji, as successor. “He [Theodore Orji] is using a proxy known as Okezie Ikpeazu. One plan is to make Okezie Ikpeazu the governorship candidate for the party in 2015 while Theodore Orji’s son is supposed to be the Speaker of the State House of Assembly. With this arrangement, Mr. Orji aims to continue using Ikpeazu to siphon state’s fund,” said the group’s spokesman. He added that the governor’s alternative plan was to arrange for the impeachment of Mr. Ikpeazu and the deputy governor using candidates he plans to plant in the state assembly. “He wants his son to take over as governor, because it is a stipulation of the constitution that the speaker will take over if the governor and his deputy are impeached,” the group stated.
The party members said the ties between the governor and Mr. Ikpeazu were cemented after Mr. Orji appointed Mr. Ikpeazu to oversee SURE P funds meant for cleaning Abia State. “Ikpeazu always took SURE P money and handed it to the governor,” one of the members said.
Governor Orji’s son, Chinedu, had earlier been disqualified from contesting due to his membership of a dreaded cult gang that allegedly attacked perceived enemies of his father. However he was mysteriously “cleared” to contest despite his indictment for criminal cultism.
The primary election for the governorship candidate in Abia State is scheduled for (today)Monday December 8th, but party members said they were afraid it would not hold. Mr. Orji has another plan, should elections proceed, the plot is to use different venues for accreditation and voting or at best quarantine all the delegates who are already lodged in hotels in Aba with their phones taken away from them until his bidding is done.
They accused Mr. Orji of keeping the list of the ostensible delegates who are to elect the party’s governorship candidate away from the public. They added that Governor Orji and his son, Chinedu, had bribed all local reporters to keep them from reporting on the undemocratic practices and the shady primaries.
However, SaharaReporters obtained the list, which is now reproduced below: