Some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia have raised concern over the omission of the names of prominent stakeholders, including Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, from the approved party register for Sunday’s governorship primaries in the state.
The Chairman of the party, Chief Donatus Nwankpa, said at a meeting for aspirants in Umuahia on Saturday that the register of members in Ohafia Local Government Area was not in the list approved by the national secretariat of the party.
Nwankpa also said that some wards in Umunneochi and Bende state constituencies were also omitted.
However, he said that the national secretariat screened and cleared all the aspirants to stand for the primaries, adding that the State Working Committee (SWC) would abide by the decision.
He also said that the SWC would liaise with the committee from the national secretariat to give waivers to the affected members to enable them to take part in the exercise.
The information, however, jolted some of the aspirants, who feared that the development would affect their fortunes at the exercise.
In his reaction, a frontline governorship aspirant, Mr Uche Ogah, called for urgent steps to remedy the situation in order to ensure that thousands of his supporters, who defected with him from the Peoples Democratic Party to APC, were not disenfranchised.
A House of Representatives aspirant, Mr Ben Kalu, said that the names of some prominent members of the party, including that of Kalu, were not in the approved register.
Kalu said that the party constitution was explicit in Article 1: Sub 3 on waiver, saying that most of the affected aspirants did not apply to the national secretariat of the party for waiver as provided by the constitution.
He said that the omission, if not properly addressed, would open the window of opportunity for a series of litigations in the aftermath of the exercise.
The members later moved into a closed door meeting, where they resolved that the issue should be handled by the national committee, in conjunction with the SWC, ahead of the exercise.
Meanwhile, Nwankpa has assured the meeting that the party would provide a level playing field for all the aspirants for the primaries.
He urged them to be of good conduct during and after the exercise, saying that the ultimate objective of the party was to move to the Government House in 2019.
The party chairman further warned against any acts, including the use of arms and thugs to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the exercise.
“I have been informed that some aspirants have been stockpiling arms and recruiting thugs for the primaries,” he said.
He warned the aspirants not to do anything untoward or shed the blood of innocent people for the sake of party’s ticket.
Nwankpa said that party chieftains “with impeccable character and integrity” would be deployed in all the wards to collate the results at the end of the exercise.
In his brief remark, Sen. Chris Adighije, appealed to all the aspirants to ensure that the party remained united at the end of the exercise in order for them to work harmoniously for success during the general elections.
Reacting to the omission of his name in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Kalu said that his name was in the manual register at the ward.
Kalu, who is aspiring for Abia North Senatorial seat, said that it was imperative that the party resorted to the register at the ward, subject to the authentication of the state secretariat.
“The party should use the manual register, which is at the ward. It should be authenticated by the Secretary of the party for use at the primaries,” he said.
NAN reports that the meeting was attended by four governorship aspirants, including former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Martins Azubuike, Friday Nwosu, Ogah and Paul Ikonne.
However, three other governorship aspirants, former Deputy Gov. Chris Akomas, Chief Ikechi Emenike and Amb. Okey Emuche did not attend. (NAN)