Cross River Daily reports that following last week’s protest at the PDP National Secretariat, Abuja over the deal for automatic tickets to all incumbent National Assembly aspirants, yesterday, the Cross River State chapter of the party had its turn of the protest as National Assembly aspirants and their supporters occupied the party’s State Secretariat at 42a M/M Highway, Calabar.
In Abuja, the protesters said that offering automatic tickets to the lawmakers was a clear violation of the Electoral Act, the PDP constitution and its guidelines therefore calling for PDP to be cautioned against the move and urged it against manipulation of the nomination process to avoid what they described as a looming fragmentation of the party across the states, while demanding a level playing field for all aspirants through free, fair and transparent primary elections across the states.
At what seems like the party paid a deaf ear to their agitations, a faction of the party already formed and led by Ntufam Ekpo Okon who is the immediate past State Chairman of the party and currently aspiring for Senate, Cross River South Senatorial District picked up placards and occupied the party’s State Secretariat, yesterday in Calabar.
Ntufam Ekpo Okon while addressing newsmen at the Secretariat described the deal as unfortunate, stating that nothing was going to make them accept it.
His words: “We will not blink and allow this to go on unchallenged. We are conversant with democratic values and the content of the constitution of our party. We have read the guidelines for these primaries, the process of nomination party primaries and we did not just jump into this. We have been members who have paid our dues.
“Now, the process have started, we paid for our nomination forms and paid all fees required only for us to be called and told that the NWC of our party has taken a position to direct all incumbent members of the National Assembly should be returned unopposed. That means even if we go through the congresses, we do not stand any chance because they would send names that they have decided to send.
“They pretended as if we were going to have congress to elect adhoc delegates. And meanwhile did not do any congresses anywhere in the 196 wards of Cross River and wrote lists of delegates to support that charade.
“The truth of the matter is that it is unfortunate because it means that PDP, as a party, has learnt nothing. All that befell PDP in 2015, one would have expected that PDP would have come out of this situation wiser.
“But if this is what PDP has chosen to do, it is not acceptable and it is not going to go down well with us and we will not accept it. We are members of the party and insist that let there be level playing field. We are ready to contest on a level playing field. That charade called congresses of Saturday, anyway it did not hold, they just sat down and wrote down names, would not hold, must be cancelled forthwith, and let us do a democratically conducted exercise, supervised by INEC, let us ensure our party members make a choice.
“Look at APC. They are doing direct primaries. If I remember after the 2015 windfall that finished us, the Ekweremadu committee recommend a direct primary. We jettisoned all that. Today even the indirect primaries we cannot open our hearts and do the right thing. If this was the case, why didn’t you make the pronouncement and stop selling forms. You sold forms, collected money from us and now turn round to shortchange us. It is unacceptable,” Ekpo stated.
The protest in Calabar, Cross River Daily gathered recorded a casualty as one of the protesters was shot and immediately rushed to the hospital.