Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade may have set a machinery in motion for a battle with some chieftains of the ruling PDP. On Tuesday, his group boycotted the zonal congress of the party that took place in Port Harcourt.
Some party chieftains loyal to him were believed to have approached a court for an injunction to stop the congress. Their grouse with the party is that the list of delegates to the congress was not acceptable.
It is not clear if a legally acceptable injunction had been obtained before the congress took place. But delegates from Cross River were part of the congress where a national ex-officio member from the state was also elected.
Before now, the Supreme Court had ruled on the issue of authentic ward and local government leaders of the party. From the apex court ruling, Ayade had lost out completely, as none of his men’s names are on the list.
The governor has been at war with National Assembly members from his state. But the Abuja politicians who led what is now known as Team Authentic, floored him and seized all the party structures in the state.
However, one of his aides, Mr Alphonsus Eba, believes that he remains the chairman in waiting of the party. Eba who is the Director General of Due Process and Price Intelligence Bureau had hoped to be the party chairman before the Abuja team swept the rug of Ayade’s feet.
But Eba told our correspondent in Calabar that he remained the man for the office. “We are waiting for the congress. I am an aspirant, before the date fixed for the congress I was cleared unopposed and if I was cleared unopposed and of course you know, you can call me state chairman in waiting.
“But somehow along the line we had disagreement about the Local government and ward lists; and because of that disagreement it led to a point where the party had to suspend the congress. The party too has not been able to resolve that issue. But the party got so pained that the man that was rightly disqualified for not meeting the mandatory constitutional provision under section 49, sub-section 4 of the PDP constitution which requires that if you return to the party or you join the party, you must spend a year and 6 months which is 18 months.
“On the day that we were supposed to hold that congress on the 23rd day of March 2020, the man on record which he admitted himself said he returned back to the party on the 23rd day of December 2018. If you count that time from 23rd day of March, count it yourself my brother, it is 15 months. Can 15 months be the same thing as 18 months that is required?
“Don’t forget, the law says unless you have a waiver; they asked him do you have a waiver, he said no but he has applied but, the NWC has not returned the verdict of whether they will grant him or not. That same man was disqualified, he went to court in Port Harcourt and do you know his argument? He said now, we cannot stand on that again because if you calculate from that time till now, I have already spent more than 22 months.
“The question, were you qualified on the day of the screening, if you were not qualified you stand disqualified because after that screening certificates were issued. I was cleared unopposed; he was disqualified for not spending 18 months in the party. He told the Court in Port Harcourt which is under his pocket that they should use the constitutional provision of the qualification to run the election and not the PDP constitution and guideline to give judgment, that if the PDP constitution and the Nigerian Constitution is at conflict, the constitution of the Federal Republic will take precedence and the question is, oh my God! Does the constitution of the country make provision on issues that have to do with party congresses?
“So when those issues came out, we saw how puerile, we saw how impotent and sterile the judgment was and the party in its wisdom had to appeal the nonsense judgment from Port Harcourt. Luckily, then vacation was over, that matter has been here in Calabar.
“It came up for hearing on the 8th and was adjourned for judgment; only for their lawyer after the case was adjourned for judgment wrote a letter to the court and said we just realized that this matter is statute barred because it’s a pre-election matter and it ought to have been decided within 60 days; we laughed, pre-election matter? Party congresses? How is it pre-election?
“Congress that you want to do for election that will hold in 2023 you call it pre-election and the court in their wisdom said before they will say we have not given them fair hearing said we should come back and address them on whether the matter has become statute barred or not; on Tuesday this week, that matter will be heard here for the counsel to address the court whether the matter has become statute barred or not.”