Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had set up a 21-man Reconciliation Committee headed by senator Effiong Bob to bring back aggrieved members who were not happy in its manner governorship primary was conducted on 25th May , 2022. It was a move to bring sanity and keep the party as one ahead of 2023 general election.
Indeed, there was need for reconciliation as almost all the aspirants except very few had a straight face while some withdrew from the contest out of frustration and lack of confidence in the party gubernatorial nomination process.
Those who pulled out from the race were senator Bassey Albert Akpan who has finally dumped the party and Barr Onofiok Akpan Luke . They were adjudged as loyal and faithful party men who had served PDP diligently from 1999 and aspired for higher opportunity to serve in the capacity of governor in 2023 .
Others who stay back and participated in the PDP primary conducted at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium Uyo include pastor Umo Eno believed to be governor Udom Emmanuel’s preferred candidate , an Estate Surveyor/Valuer as well as former governoship candidate in 2007 election in the state Mr James Iniama, a former Commisioner who resigned from governor Emmanuel’s cabinet for the race Mr Akan Okon , Idorenyin Umo and Ide Owodiong Idemeko who just retired after 30 years service with Mobil Producing Nigeria Unltd.
Though pastor Umo Eno emerged the winner and PDP flagbearer, aggrieved candidate especially Mr Akan Okon immediate past Commisioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep sea has challenged him in court over his eligibility to participate in the primary based on academic credentials. The Trumpet Gathered
In a suit filed at the Federal High court sitting in Uyo , Okon alleged that Umo Eno has forged the 1981 West Africa School Certificate he submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) and pray the court to disqualify him in AKwa Ibom governorship race in 2023 .
Be that as it may , how will the reconciliation committee handle this sensitive issue and keep the party in peace with all stakeholders ahead of 2023 general election?
Many suggestions have trickle in the social media space and few will suffice here for record purpose .
What were the party guidelines and commitment of each aspirant in line with their conduct while participating in the AKwa Ibom PDP governorship primaries?
In the middle of the party primary , some aspirants withdrew and refuse to participate in the election namely: Senator Bassey Albert who has now left the party and Barr Onofiok Akpan Luke now representing Etinan , Nsit Ibom and Nsit Ibom federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
But others such as Mr James Iniama, Akan Okon Idorenyin Umoh and Ide Owodiong Idemeko and pastor Umo Eno participated actively in the exercise.
It is pertinent to examine how each aspirant played the game as the party will soon take decision to reconcile them and move forward in the interest of peace, equity and justice.
Take the case of Akan Okon who had dragged the party to court against his oath as contained in Form PD0003/G of the PDP governoship nomination form submitted to the party .
In the said clause, all aspirants accepted on oath that they will not challenge the outcome of the primary in court .But in the present circumstance, Okon had sued the party and will not be in the good book or considered to replace the embattled Umo Eno. Part of the PDP governorship form reads in parts:
“That I undertake to abide by the decision of the party as final and will not subject it to any litigation whatsoever adjudication by any body including the court of law”
By this commitment , Mr Akan Okon has failed the party by not keeping to his own part of agreement with PDP and will not be considered in event of substitution when things fall apart .
Many have suggested that the only aspirant that PDP can substitute is Mr James Iniama who had maintained a peaceful disposition and conducted himself well as a genuine party man throughout the primaries.
What is left for the PDP reconciliation Committe to do in the prevailing circumstance is to ask pastor Umo Eno to officially withdraw his ambition as he has found himself in a tight corner .
This action will be supported by the new Electoral Act which had stated the obvious in such situation.
Section 33 of the Electoral Act states :” A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted to under section 29 of this Act except in the case of death or withdrawal by candidate
“Provided that in the in the case of such withdrawal or death of a candidate, the political party affected shall, within 14 days of the of the occurrence of the event , hold a fresh primary primary election to produce and submit fresh candidate to the commission for the election.”
By this provision of the new Electoral Act, the PDP in AKwa Ibom can arrange a fresh primary within the time frame stipulated by law to produce another flagbearer for 2023 governorship election .
The reconciliation Committe must ensure that only those who bought the form and are still members of the party participate in the fresh primary election.
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