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2023: Option A4, change of election venue will favour Gov Udom’s cousin – PDP members lament

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The alleged plan to adopt option A4 (direct primaries) and to move the Onna State Constituency primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from Onna council secretariat to the Police Special Protection Unit, Awa, or Awa Primary School, has been described by some natives of the area as a ploy by the governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, who is an indigene of Onna to favor his cousin, Mr Sunday Johnny, an aspirant for the assembly seat.

The plan to adopt option A4 for the primaries, according to a source who spoke to some journalists, was perfected on Thursday, May 12, 2022 at a hotel along C Line, Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo.

Some chapter executive members who attended the meeting told our correspondent that using option A4 instead of the secret ballot system was to cajole the delegates to vote for the governor’s preferred aspirant.

According to him, “The governor has insisted on using Direct Primaries (Option A4) where delegates will queue behind him, rather than Indirect Primaries (Secret Ballot system) as prescribed by the Electoral Law.

“The governor has concluded plans to impose his preferred aspirant and cousin, Mr. Sunday Johnny on the people of Onna local Government Area in the forthcoming PDP State House of Assembly primaries scheduled to hold on May 18, 2022.

“The chapter Chairman of PDP in Onna LGA, Barr. Ubong Adiakpan even said that, “All delegates will queue behind the governor in support of Mr. Sunday Johnny.”

A chieftain of the party in Onna who pleaded anonymity recalled that the governor used the same method in 2015 House of Assembly primaries and in 2020 to impose an unpopular local government leadership on the people, saying such “outdated tactics would not work this time around. The governor is fond of fronting unpopular candidates in every election.”

He, therefore, expressed fears that with the way the governor was handling political issues, especially fronting ‘unpopular aspirants’, the state might be lost to the All Progressives Congress in the 2023 elections.

“With the way the governor is handling political issues ahead of 2023 general elections, by insisting on fronting unpopular aspirants, he may end up surrendering the state to APC which is alleged he would join immediately the election is over,” the party chieftain lamented.

A youth leader, Otobong Ntiense, said they will not close their eyes and watch the governor build fortunes for himself and family members alone, while Onna youths are begging to survive, vowing that they will resist any attempt to impose another unpopular candidate on them.

However, PDP chapter chairman for Onna, Barr Ubong Adiakpan, who tried defending himself and the governor, said the meeting at the hotel in Uyo was at the instance of the aspirant, Mr Sunday Johnny, who came for consultations.

Adiakpan, who admitted that the aspirant is Governor Emmanuel’s relative, stressed that there was nowhere in the constitution where a governor’s relative should not vie for a political office.

He added, “After he had appealed to delegates to stand by him, I even jokingly said if the governor would queue behind him, that all of us would also queue behind the governor; so he should pray for that to happen.

“I also told him that the governor had told all the party elders from Eket senatorial district that he has no hand or anointed aspirant in the house of assembly election.

“As I’m talking to you now, I don’t know the format the primary election would take; whether it would be by Option A4 or secret ballot. We are still expecting a briefing by the state chairman of the party. It is the party that would decide where the primaries would be held. So I take directives from the state.”

The coordinator of ward secretaries, Mr Atat Atat, who also attended the meeting, said the issue of location and format of the primaries was not discussed when the aspirants met with the ward secretaries, even as he said it would be wrong to tamper with already format and venue of the party primaries.