ANAMBRA STATE UPP DELEGATES LIST AND A TRAGIC PRIMARIES
Despite all entreaties, including an order of court that the United Progressive Party should adhere to the provisions of its own constitution in the conduct of the Anambra state governorship primaries, the party did just the opposite.
After a hotly contested ward and local government congress in June 2017, in line with Article 10 of the UPP constitution, a delegates list comprised of local government chairmen and secretaries and ward chairmen, secretaries, treasurers, youth leaders and women leaders was compiled and counter signed by the state chairman and secretary and all the local government chairmen and forwarded to the national headquarters for record purposes.
To the surprise and consternation of party members, a delegates list copiously at variance with the list of ELECTED delegates was uploaded on the website of the UPP on the 29th of July 2017 and variously amended on the 4th and 5th of August 2017. The website list contained strange names with no phone numbers unlike the authentic delegates list that had the phone numbers of all delegates displayed.
When accreditation commenced on Saturday the 19th of August, the day of the primaries, I got information that only those whose names appeared on the website list were being allowed into the venue. I drove down to the venue at about 9am and handed over a letter of protest to the election committee chairman, Chief Ejike Uche and the chairman of the party in Anambra state, Dr Sylvester Igwilo. I threatened to withdraw from the primaries if they insist on the use of the illegal register.
I left the venue immediately after and left for the INEC office to register my protest. I thereafter returned to my campaign office. I did not appoint any agent nor did I participate in the kangaroo primaries. A couple of minutes later, I received a call that disenfranchised delegates were becoming uncontrollable and that armed policemen on duty were firing teargas canisters to scare them and that one of the delegates slumped and had been taken to the Amaku Teaching Hospital, Awka. By the time I got to the hospital at about 11am, the delegate, Hon Uwakwe Maduabuchi had given up the ghost. He was the ward chairman of Owerre Ezukala ward 1, Orumba South Local Government Area. The UPP constitution provides for five delegates per ward, the chairman, secretary, treasurer, woman leader and youth leader.
The late Maduabuchi was “lucky” that his name appeared in both the authentic list and the illegal website list. Equally “lucky” were the youth leader and the woman leader but the secretary and treasurer were yanked off the list and replaced with unknown persons. The secretary, Clifford Madu was replaced with Charles Nwafor and the treasurer, Joseph Onyegbule was replaced with someone called Annex Opara. Only the ward congress can replace those elected officers but the national Chairman, Chekwas Okorie, unilaterally replaced elected officers of the party. He replicated these whimsical replacements in about 264 wards across the state, giving him “preference shares” in the primaries and in his ‘dream government’ in Anambra state.
It was while struggling to ensure that his less fortunate colleagues were let into the venue for accreditation that Maduabuchi met his untimely death. He collapsed at the barricades of shame erected to prevent genuine delegates from gaining entrance and allowing handpicked delegates to vote in their stead. He died fighting for justice. How can a political party carry on with a primary election with an officer of the party lying stone dead, a victim of the party’s corrupt manipulation of its delegates list. I immediately called on the party to call off the accreditation exercise as a mark of respect for the dead officer of the party who was killed performing his duties.
When the call fell on deaf ears and considering the fact that my Christian faith and the Biafran Ideology we profess, places a high premium on human life, I promptly withdrew from the exercise. I consider it unconscionable for the party to have carried on with the primaries under the circumstances.
I have noted the willful and corrupt manipulation of the party delegates list by Chief Chekwas Okorie, but it is the display of gross insensitivity to the life of a party member that has made me reconsider my membership of the UPP. I hereby resign my membership of the party with effect from today the 21st day of August 2017. I urge all my supporters and all those who believe in the Biafran ideology of equality, freedom and justice to do same and await further directives.
Hon Chudi Offodile