Chief Don Etiebet
The crisis rocking the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over zoning arrangement thickened on Thursday with a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Don Etiebet, insisting that contrary to reports, the National Working Committee the party had not zoned the 2015 governorship ticket to Eket Senatorial Zone.
While describing the report as outright lies, the member of PDP’s Board of Trustees, that he had made clarifications from the party’s National Headquarters.
Etiebet stated that although there was an endorsement by the party, PDP did not exclude or preclude other aspirants from other senatorial districts from contesting for Akwa Ibom State governorship election.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, had said the party expects that “only aspirants from Eket Senatorial Zone will present themselves for the governorship primary election in the state.”
But Etiebet, told journalists in Abuja that the national leadership of the party had confided in him that they could and would not prevent any aspirant from other senatorial districts to vie for the seat.
He said he has personally spoken to the National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, his Deputy, Chief Uche Sekondus, among others on the matter.
Etiebet quoted the PDP leadership as saying, “It was a mere endorsement of what the party in the state has said, but that it did not exclude or preclude anybody from any other senatorial zone, to put in his or her application for the governorship seat.
“That even, if there are 20 of them, they are welcome, and when I asked him (Sekondus) that state executive, according to what Olisa Metu said, will not want to collect the nomination form, from candidates from other zones.
“He (Sekondus) said, No! That they cannot do that, and if such a situation occurs, we can bring the nomination form of all other aspirants to him in Abuja, and they would be validly proclaimed to be valid candidates to stand in for the nomination exercise.”
Etiebet said they told him that the party has chosen to open the contest to all aspirants in the state in the spirit of democracy.
“They said “It (PDP) does not preclude in the spirit of democracy, in the spirit of giving all Nigeria a level playing field to participate, in the spirit of proper internal democracy and in the spirit of being have a popular candidate, who can win the election for the party.
“Therefore, I call on every eligible aspirant from any senatorial district of Akwa-Ibom state, who want to aspire to be the governor of Akw-Ibom state, to go ahead to mobilize their supporters, and make sure that they win their delegates, because nobody is going to preclude them from taking place in this exercise.”
Still on Akwa Ibom, a former Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Christopher Ekpenyong, has said that the chances of PDP winning next year’s governorship elections in the state were very slim if it ignored the zoning arrangement in the party’s constitution.
He told journalists in Uyo that while no political party is more important than the other, election was a race which every political party had equal chances of winning.
Ekpenyong added that zoning was proposed as an instrument to bring peace and ethnic harmony as the essential prerequisites for development.
He warned against unnecessary heating up of the polity by those he described as ‘pretenders to the throne.’
Ekpenyong also warned against the imposition of candidates, adding that the dictatorial tendency of the current political leadership in the state was adverse to the success of the party at the 2015 governorship election.
He said, “Zoning has never failed as a policy in the scheme of things as far as the federal system is concerned in Nigeria; it is there in the constitution of Nigeria.
“There is also the Federal Character Commission that makes sure every Nigerian is given his or her due in terms of appointments and facilities.
“If the PDP flouts this zoning arrangement, which is in its constitution, it could jeopardise its chances of winning the 2015 governorship elections. No party in an election can say it has 100 per cent control over the electorate. Election is a game, which every party has equal chance of winning and losing.
“We have always had zoning or rotation. Even in the local governments of those opposed to zoning in Akwa Ibom State; there is a formula for sharing of offices based on zoning or rotation between clans and wards.”