The relative peace in the Delta State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is being threatened by the second term bid of its chairman, Kingsley Esiso, which has polarised the chapter. OKUNGBOWA AIWERIE reports
The tenure of Delta State Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Kingsley Esiso expired on April 7, the day set aside for the state congress, which was postponed due to the corona virus pandemic.
The chairman’s alleged second term bid has polarised the party, causing much acrimony between factions in Delta PDP.
Despite the COVID-19 induced postponement, the campaign against the second term bid of incumbent Chair Esiso has intensified.
Sapele PDP Stakeholders, a pressure group, have spearheaded opposition to the second term bid.
Its membership includes, Margaret Unugekwu, Godwin Atose, former chairman, Sapele Local Council, Felix Anirah, legislator representing Sapele Constituency, and others.
Their main grouse, according to Felix Anirah, is that the chairman moved his votings rights to Ethiope East L.G.A, hence, he does not have the right to occupy a position zoned to Sapele LGA.
He said the decision to reject the chairman was aimed at getting fair share of political privileges in the state.
Anirah said: “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 elsewhere. He cannot struggle with the constituents in Sapele Local Government.”
Anirah claimed that a caucus meeting where former Governor James Ibori, Governor Okowa and other leaders were present, zoned the chairmanship to Sapele.
He alleged that the chairman undermined efforts of leaders of the party to select a nominee to represent the zone.
He said: ”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 crisis depeened, last week after some party members foreclosed discussion on their decision, while drumming support for another candidate, Godwin Atose.
The group, led by Nicholas Oyawiri, Otivere Omoraka and Tony Akpeki, reiterated the decision of the Sapele PDP stakeholders.
According to them: “This is not time for endless talk and arguing. The PDP chairmanship is a matter of making Sapele to take an active role in pursuing the unity that comes from harmony and peace.”
“Kingsley Esiso refused to attend a meeting called by the leaders of the party in Sapele Local Government. The only aspirant, who made himself available, was Hon. Godwin Atose. The leaders forwarded his name. Esiso never consulted with any leader that he was contesting and up till now, he has not done that.”
“There can be no question. Godwin Arose is the only person who indicated interest and his name was duly sent. There is nothing to resolve. Kingsley Esiso never indicated interest.”
“Kingsley Esiso is not interested in any internal resolution. According to him, the Governor of Delta State assured him of PDP Delta State chairmanship position. He said Okowa gave him the only available form for the said position.”
They added: “A fair resolution of the crisis is to allow for a more acceptable, amiable, accessible and humble party leader to emerge and a consideration of an indigenous loyal party member so as to allow the Sapele/Okpe to have a sense of belonging. This is the idea behind the micro-zoning of the chairmanship to Sapele. The Sapele Local Government PDP Stakeholders nominated Hon. Godwin Atose.”
“No one can dispute the rights of Sapele people to choose the next PDP chairman. Failure to give Sapele the PDP chairmanship can tear the party apart. It will also mean the exclusion of Sapele Okpe from the State Executive Committee of the party for eight years. Ethiope East where Kingsley Esiso is from will get four slots in the State Executive Committee to the absolute exclusion of a Sapele Okpe indigene’’.
But, the Chairman of Sapele Local Government Council, Eugene Inoaghan, backed the incumbent to continue in office because of his “immense contributions” to the development of Sapele.
Inoaghan also debunked reports that a candidate for the state PDP chairmanship position was picked during a meeting of leaders/stakeholders of Sapele Local Government Area.
He described the report as misleading, as there was no time leaders and stakeholders of PDP in Sapele Local Government Area met to discuss the position of Delta State PDP Chairman.
He said: “The beguiling information regarding the said meeting was fabricated from the figment of imagination of the authors.”
He said there is verifiable evidence that Kingsley Esiso will continue to be a great pillar and beacon of light for the PDP in Sapele Local Government Area.
According to the statement: “his unsurpassed contribution towards the infrastructural and human capital development of Sapele is extraordinary. In this connection, I am cognisant of the view of the State Party caucus, that Party officers are entitled to a second tenure, particularly when they have performed creditably as exemplified by Chief Kingsley Esiso.”
He accused PDP chairman of violating the party’s constitution.
He said: “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.”
Despite the mounting opposition to his return to office, the chairman is unruffled, assuring there was 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 contest or not. And whoever feels I am not qualified should come out to contest.”
However, the chairman PDP Advocacy Group (PAG), Ekengbuda Robinson, in a statement, dismissed the position of Anirah, stressing that those plotting against the “destined second term bid of 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 stabilised PDP in Delta State and successfully eroded ethno – religious sentiments among 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.”
The group vowed to work with progressives in the party to ensure Esiso gets a second term.
Sources said that the loyalty of Esiso to Okowa is reason why some leaders from Delta Central are insisting on his removal.
With Delta Central zone expected to produce the next governorship candidate in 2023, some political gladiators in the zone fear he will be a willing tool by Okowa’s to foist his choice on the party.
A party chieftain, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attributed the struggle to remove Kingsley Esiso to Delta Central’s scheming to install a ‘more pliant’ chairman.
He said the current struggle is beyond fighting for equity for Sapele constituency. His words: “The opposition wants 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.”