The decision of the National Executive Council (NEC) to ratify the governorship candidates of the party as earlier submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has sparked another round of bickering between the two factions battling for control of the party in Ebonyi State.
This is as the two aspirants battling for the governorship candidature of the party, Senator Obinna Ọgba and Mr Ifeanyi Odii, had disagreed on the implication of the decision.
The party in a communique issued at the end of its 97th NEC meeting on Thursday at the National Secretariat, Wadata Plaza, Abuja announced the ratification of the list of candidates submitted to INEC by the National Working Committee of the party.
The communique signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba also congratulated the candidates of the party on their emergence.
“NEC unanimously ratified the list of candidates of the PDP as submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the NWC.
“NEC also congratulated all the Governorship, Senatorial, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly Candidates of the PDP for their emergence as flagbearers of our Party at various levels”, the communique said.
Odii, who emerged from the 29th May primary of the party, hailed the decision while Ọgba, who emerged from the June 5 primary, argued that the decision is not applicable to the Ebonyi State situation which is still subjected to a court litigation.
Reacting to the NEC’s decision, Mr Silas Ọnụ, a factional Chairman of the party and staunch supporter of Mr Odii, said the decision has confirmed Mr Odii as the authentic governorship candidate of the party.
He noted that Mr Odii is the candidate whose name was displayed by INEC last month as the party’s candidate, adding that time for substitution has since passed.
He said: “By the decision of NEC yesterday, the 8th of September, 2022, it is abundantly clear that the party has decided to work with the primary of 28 & 29 of May, 2022.
“Needless to state that the names submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the NWC, are those of the primaries conducted on the 28th and 29th of May, 2022.
“For the purpose of further emphasis, May I, once again, refer to a holding in the Court of Appeal decision in the appeal by Sen. Joseph Obinna Ogba delivered on 1st September, 2022 to the effect that neither the Court nor INEC can decide a candidate for the political party. So, the PDP has decided and very clearly too”.
Mr Ọnụ further noted that by virtue of Section 31 (3) of the PDP constitution, 2017 (as amended), the decision of the National Executive Committee is binding on all organs and members of the party.
“As earlier held by my humble self, the window is already firmly closed against any political party to substitute the names already submitted to INEC for the 2023 elections.
“Only a specific Order by a Court of competent jurisdiction acting on an action duly filed within the constitutional timeframe of 14 days after the cause of action arose, can alter the state of the names already submitted and such an order must be directed at INEC, not PDP – PDP is already functus officio on this matter”.
Mr Ọnụ, while congratulating Mr Odii, urged all those who participated in the unlawful primaries of 4th and 5th June, 2022 to realize that the ship has sailed and found a new path to pursue, politically.
“This issue is already over and it is in the interest of their mental and physical health for each of them to face reality and quit acts of self-deception”, he added.
But Senator Ọgba, in a reaction, disagreed with Mr Ọnụ arguing that the court will have the final say on the matter.
Ọgba, in a statement by his Media Aide, Godfrey Chikwere, argued that cases before courts of competent jurisdiction are not part of those ratified by the NEC.
“Those celebrating NEC ratification of candidates across the country and they have pending court judgement fixed at the apex court for hearing and possible judgement on 14th September are like the proverbial man who is busy chasing rats while his house is engulfed by fire.
“PDP in Ebonyi and at the national level, handed over her power to the court concerning Ebonyi, Kano, Ogun and Delta States and the court will give them direction soon.
“On 14th, September 2022, less than seven days from today, the Supreme Court will decide for PDP, who is their authentic candidate in Ebonyi between Ogba and Odii.
“Until the Supreme Court gives judgement, every other thing you are doing including celebrating yesterday’s NEC meeting is simply playing with your emotion and blood pressure.
“Only a fool, no matter how learned the fool maybe, makes jest of a matter pending at our revered Supreme Court,” he stated.