Enugu - The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State has dismissed rumours of a rift in the party over the endorsement of Rep. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as its consensus candidate for 2015 gubernatorial elections.
The party said this on Tuesday in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Dr Okey Eze, adding that the process that led to Ugwuanyi's emergence was democratic.
“The PDP in Enugu is as strong and united as it has been since the inception of the Sullivan Chime administration.”
“The party is even stronger and more united now that we have a consensus gubernatorial candidate who was chosen through a very smooth, transparent and democratic process.”
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“It is the first time such a thing is happening in the history of the state. Anyone saying the party is in disarray is clearly being mischievous,” it said.
The statement further described media reports claiming that the party was in disarray over Ugwuanyi’s sole candidature as ``blatantly false, mischievous, and a calculated attempt to deceive the public’’.
The party said the reports were the handiwork of mischief makers who were determined to undermine the integrity of the party for selfish reasons.
On the reported absence of some leaders of the party at the caucus meeting, it explained that some of them sought permission to attend to pressing official and personal engagements.
“Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, former Senators Jim Nwobodo, Ken Nnamani, and Fidelis Okoro as well as Chief Dubem Onyia had all sought permission to be excused from the meeting due to pressing official and personal engagements but pledged to abide by the decisions reached there,” it said.
According to the statement, Onyia has already issued a rebuttal through his lawyer, of the report claiming that he boycotted the meeting when he was abroad at the time of the meeting.
It said that members of the National Assembly from the state had attended various senatorial and caucus meetings endorsing the lawmaker as the consensus candidate.
The party also debunked reports that the governor imposed the candidate on the party saying that Chime merely convened the meeting and allowed the people to deliberate and make their choice.
“At the meeting were 76 political heavyweights from the Enugu North Senatorial zone chosen in accordance with the party’s constitution, in addition to all the 10 gubernatorial aspirants from the zone,” it said.
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The party, however, confirmed that the governor did not disclose the purpose of the meeting in his invitation.
It explained that when he introduced the 2015 governorship race as the topic for discussion, all the people present agreed to deliberate on it.
It also said the governor allowed everyone to express his views on the matter and, at a time, offered to allow members of the caucus to go home and return at a later date.
The statement explained that the stakeholders, however, agreed to stay and discuss the issue there.
It said that after extensive deliberations, the other aspirants stepped down for Ugwuanyi and two of the aspirants Amb. Fidel Ayogu and Chief Okechukwu Itanyi moved and seconded the motion for his endorsement.
The party urged the media to always cross check facts before publication in order to avoid over heating the polity.
The media reports that Chime had told the party members that he would not dishonour the zoning arrangement in the party which fell on the Nsukka zone for the governorship in 2015.
NAN also reports that former Gov. Chimaroke Nnamani (Nkanu zone) and incumbent Gov. Chime (Enugu Zone) had represented the two other zones with both observing two terms each.