The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has come under verbal attack over the conduct of National Assembly primary elections in Enugu State.
He was specifically accused of manipulating the system in his Enugu West Senatorial zone by allegedly introducing a suspicious letter from the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus.
A women group in the State claimed that while aspirants for the election had readied themselves for the primary, the Deputy Senate President introduced the said letter, which purportedly declared that the incumbent federal legislators had been granted automatic tickets.
It, however, said that no sooner had the primary, which lasted into the night held, it was discovered that Secondus never signed any of such letter or made the undemocratic declaration.
They further claimed that unknown to the state governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, “Ekweremadu was using subterfuge to plant his loyalists in strategic positions in the state.”
The group, Women Arise, equally lamented that desperate politicians in the state showed their disdain for the womenfolk during the exercise.
In a statement, the Convener and National President of the coalition, Princess May Nwabueze, said, “we watched with keen interest the National Assembly primary election in Enugu State conducted by the PDP and we are sad to note the unjust treatment meted out on women.
“It is curious that out of all the House of Representatives and senatorial positions in Enugu State, the party did not deem it fit to consider a single woman. This is coming at a time we are talking about deepening the political process and we expect that the PDP should be on the vanguard.”
Members of Women Arise said they discovered to their chagrin that “at least five women presented themselves for the National Assembly primary elections, but in what we consider as a slap on the faces of all the women, who of course constitute the bulk of the voting population, the PDP shut the door against the women.”
It said, “The PDP, under Ekweremadu’s directives, manipulated the process and ensured these women were not even given the opportunity to test their popularity.
“It is saddening that an election slated to take place in the broad daylight was manipulated to start by 9pm when the majority of the voters, especially the women, had deserted the venue of the exercise, thereby allowing armed thugs to have a field day.
“We, therefore, appeal to the party to reconsider its decisions for the purpose of equity and natural justice. It should not be unmindful of the implications of total exclusion of women in the political process.”
While commending the state governor, Ugwuanyi, for his commitment towards deepening the democratic space in Enugu State, the women decried the continuing attempt by the deputy senate president to undermine the governor’s leadership by engaging in clandestine activities to plant his cronies.
Meanwhile, the women group also asked Ugwuanyi not to select the state’s Deputy Governor, Cecelia Ezeilo, as his running mate in the 2019 governorship election, saying one who does not support women inclusion in the state’s politics does not deserve to be the deputy governor.
“That woman, Ezeilo, has never supported women inclusion in Enugu politics. Indeed, Enugu State has no deputy governor. If Ugwuanyi picks her as his running mate, then we the women would massively vote against him and he would lose the election,” it added.
Newsmen had earlier reported that a former Enugu North Senatorial aspirant, Chief Chinedu Eya, called on the leadership of the PDP, to as a matter of urgency; cancel the just concluded party’s primary elections for Udenu/Igboeze North federal constituency.
Eya contended that the election, which produced Simon Atigwe, was a sham and fraught with undemocratic tenets.
He wondered why an election slated to take place in the broad daylight was manipulated to start by 9pm when the majority of the voters had deserted the venue of the exercise, with med thugs forcing them to submit their eligibility identification cards, which was eventually used to manipulate the system.
In a statement by his media aide, Gwiyi Solomon, Eya said, “only an urgent decision from the PDP leadership can help resuscitate the people’s faith in our democratic system.”
Meanwhile, when contacted, media aide to the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Luke Mgbor described the claims as a “mere political blackmail by enemies progress who are envious of his quality representation.”
He told newsmen that “to the best of my knowledge, I don’t know about any such document; however, I must say that the DPS is an experienced lawmaker and a lawyer and could not descend so low to present a document that is false.
“So, I doubt the allegation, it is a mere political gimmick; it is part of the pull him down syndrome, just to smear his name, the reputation he has built over the years.
“Enugu West is about the most enlightened senatorial district in Nigeria; the delegates are educated, so nobody coarsed anybody; People of Enugu West have spoken and they will do same during the main election; they voted for the DSP and other aspirants of their choice.
“Through quality representation, the DSP has endeared himself into the heart of the people. So, whatever they set out to achieve is dead on arrival.”