In this report, INNEH BARTH looks at brewing tension within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State as opposition mounts against the return of the incumbent chairman.
If not for the concerted fight against coronavirus pandemic, a new chairman for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State might have emerged. The protests mounting against the return of Barr. Kingsley Esiso, as the chairman could have also been over by now.
Though the issue of congresses and party politics have been put in abeyance in the state due to Covid-19, the home-based political gladiators of the party chairman Sapele LGA have been at each other’s throats over the return of the incumbent chairman.
The protests have been fierce over the choice of a replacement since the chairmanship office was zone to them.
The sins of Esiso, according to member representing Sapele State Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Felix Anirah, among others is that the party chairman has moved his voter’s card to Ethiope-East LGA and hence he does not have the right to occupy a post zoned to Sapele LGA.
The leaders’ decision to reject the Delta State chairman of PDP, the lawmaker said was aimed at getting fair share of political privileges in the state.
While addressing a meeting of Sapele political leaders, the lawmaker insisted that, “A position zoned to a local government is meant for those carrying INEC voter’s card and the party’s membership card from the constituency or local government area.
“The incumbent state chairman, Chief Kingsley Esiso enjoyed full privileges and political benefits before he relocated to Ethiope East Local Government. In 2015, he moved his INEC voter’s card from Sapele State Constituency to elsewhere. He cannot struggle with the constituents in Sapele Local Government.”
Anirah maintained that there was no tribal undertone in the decision of Sapele PDP leaders saying, “Nobody ever contemplated a tribal factor into the position of the state chairman zoned to Sapele Local Government in Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s residence on Thursday, March 19, 2020 by the leaders of Delta Central Senatorial District on the instructions of Delta State PDP caucus where the governor and deputy governor of Delta State and other leaders of the party were present.”
The lawmaker stressed the fairness question, saying that the PDP leaders in Sapele rejected the candidacy of the incumbent chairman noting that the exercise of selecting a nominee for the position of state PDP chairman by leaders of the party in Sapele was undermined by the incumbent chairman.
“The decision taken on March 19, 2020 as stated in agreement with all leaders of PDP in Delta Central with clear instructions that positions zoned to the various local governments should be filled and returned on Monday, March 23 , 2020 to Senator Ighoyota Amori’s residence for onward transmission to the appropriate quarters. The incumbent assumes it is his birthright. He refused to consult the leaders of Sapele Local Government.
“The Sapele representative scolded the state PDP chairman for violating the party’s Constitution. The office of the state organizing secretary and state assistant secretary were zoned to Ethiope East Local Government. Sapele was gazetted for the Office of the state chairman of the party in Delta State.”
Anirah pleaded with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, Prof Sam Oyovbaire and leaders of Delta Central to ensure that only those with INEC voter’s card and party card in Sapele Local Government should be considered for the post of state PDP chairman.
Despite the opposition mounting against his return to office by his kinsmen, the party chairman is not ruffled. He told LEADERSHIP that there is no problem in the party in any part of the state.
Esiso said, “I cannot discuss the issues on the pages of newspaper and when the time comes I will indicate whether I will contesting or not. And whoever feels I am not qualified should come out to contest.”
However, the chairman PDP Advocacy Group (PAG), Comrade Ekengbuda Robinson in a statement dismissed the position of chief Anirah, stressing that those plotting against the “destined second term bid of Chief Kingsley Esiso as Delta State chairman of PDP were agents of destabilization and hatchet tool of the opposition.”
According to the group, Esiso and his leadership, seamlessly stabilized PDP in Delta State and successfully eroded ethno – religious sentiments among the party faithful, wondering why some “strange elements are introducing divisive tendencies into PDP in Delta State, because of their sinister plot to stop Chief Esiso by all means.”
While stating that Esiso since his emergence as the party chairman, had worked closely with the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and continually exhibited unflinching loyalty to the governor and respected the PDP constitution, the group vowed to work in synergy with progressives in the party, in the determination to ensure Esiso gets a second term.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that Esiso may have fallen apart with some of the stakeholders reportedly loyal to the former speaker of the state house of assembly, Chief Monday Igbuya who backed Esiso to the coveted seat in 2016.
Although, Igbuya, a close associate of Chief James Ibori, is in All Progressives Congress (APC), he seems to still have influence in PDP, a party he joined from the beginning and served in different political offices; as lawmaker for Sapele constituency for three consecutive times before falling out with the PDP when he was removed as the speaker.
LEADERSHIP equally learnt that there was rising pressure to drop Esiso for allegedly being loyal to the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. His closeness with the governor is not too comfortable with many political gladiators in Delta Central senatorial district that are determined to deny him a second term.
Expectedly, the senatorial zone is to produce the governor in 2023 according to the PDP arrangement, so the mounting opposition against Esiso was obvious.
Since inception, only Senator Peter Nwaoboshi from Delta North was only PDP chairman in the state who was returned for a second term though he later resigned to contest for Senate.
Analysts argued that the oppositions against Esiso were beyond Sapele constituency. “The opposition was to enthrone a party chairman that will be loyal completely to the PDP leaders in Delta Central so that it will be easier to produce a governor of their choice in 2023.
As at today the state governor has someone in mind to endorse for the plum job while Chief James Ibori camp has a different man in mind. So that is the opposition against Esiso,” a party leader who pleaded anonymity told LEADERSHIP.
Meanwhile, there are efforts to replace Esiso with a former Sapele Local Government chairman, Hon. Godwin Atose.
Atose’s choice for the position of Delta State PDP chairman was reechoed by Mrs Margaret Unukegwo, who alleges arrogance, lack of consultation, high handedness, selfishness, divide and rule policy as reasons for rejecting the incumbent chairman.
“Hon Michael Diden started his political career in Sapele and until he moved to Warri North Local Government, he enjoyed all the political privileges accrued party members in Sapele.
“He never taken what is shared to Sapele because he does not vote in Sapele. Prince Joseph Atseyinku is a Local government and Ward 8 leader.
“Tony Aniretan is the PDP LGA Youth Leader. They have INEC voter’s card and party card in Sapele Local Government Area. They are accorded full status and benefits like other party members in Sapele,” she said.
It is uncertain whether or not Esiso will get a second term, if he decides to recontest? But what is certain is that’s the minority will always have their say while the majority as expected will have their.
Irrespective of where the party chairman is zoned to, what is sure is that the entire PDP stakeholders in the state will decide who becomes the chairman when the covid19 pandemic is over.