New 196 ward executive committee members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), believed to be loyal to the Abuja group of the party, have been inaugurated in Cross River State by a Notary Public, Okamiso Ojong Esq, principal partner of Okimaai Ojong and Co.
The Notary Public said the exercise was done in accordance with the provisions of Section 65 of the PDP Constitution as amended in 2017, and that the new officials would be in office for four years. Incidentally, the tenure of the ward exco expired on April 30, 2020.
The new executive committee was inaugurated, Thursday, following a directive by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in a letter dated April 26, 2020 and signed by the National Organizing Secretary, Col Austin Akobundu.
The national leadership of the party had released what it referred as the “approved authentic list for ward and local government executive for all the 196 wards and 18 local government councils,” and directed the State Chairman, Ntufam Edim Inok Edim to inaugurate them in accordance with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
But, the State Chairman, Ntufam Edim, other party officials and members loyal to Governor Ben Ayade found fault with the list saying it was not the true representation of the congresses conducted last month and that names therein were not members of PDP.
The Chairman therefore refused to conduct the inauguration. Edim said they totally disregard the names in the NWC list as the party, under the leadership of the Governor, was on top of the matter.
“Our head office was shut down because of COVID 19 and members and officials told to stay at home, but a letter dated April 26, 2020 was sent to us to do inauguration. The names sent to us are not our members rather members of the opposition party.
“We don’t know any of them, never came to our party and have never paid any dues. I spoke with the National Chairman of our party who answered from his home State in Port Harcourt. He said he was not aware of the list. We call on the National Secretariat of our party to investigate the purported list and bring the people to book,” he submitted.
Although the PDP Chairman insisted that it was only the State Chapter of the party that has powers to inaugurate wards and local government executive committee and that there was a subsisting court injunction to stop it, the inauguration, which was conducted by the Notary Public, Okamiso Ojong, Esq, went on smoothly.
Okamiso Ojong, Esq, in a letter dated April 30, 2020 and addressed to the leadership of the party through the State Legal Adviser, said; “Kindly be informed that upon submission of the duly completed Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance form today Thursday 30th April 2020 by 7:30am and in line with the provisions of Section 65 of the People’s Democratic Party, the newly elected Ward Executive Officers of your party whose names were verified and contained in a letter with reference N0. PDP/DOM/GF.V/VOL.2/20-387B are admitted to Oath and therefore sworn in already to function in their various offices.”
According to the Notary Public, “in view of the ravaging pandemic, Covid-19, the Concerned Ward Executives are to print and fill the Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance as it appeared in your party Constitution.
“Only ward executives officer who submits his/her oath of office and oath of allegiance on or before 7:30 am on Thursday, 30th April 2020 is technically deemed to have been sworn in before me in view of the various rules, regulation, protocols and laws regulating gathering and social distancing protocol.
“This shall be the new Exco members at the expiration of the current executives, i.e. April 30, 2020, for Ward and shall hold office for a period of four (4) years pursuant to Section 47(1) of your Party’s constitution as amended; (i.e. April 30, 2020 – April 30, 2024.)
PillarToday reports that the secretariat of the party, located along the Murtala Muhammed highway in Calabar was taken over by security agencies and hundreds of party members as early as 7 am following the expected inauguration.
Checks further indicated that most of those who were inaugurated were loyalists of the National Assembly members and some pioneer PDP members who have been at loggerhead with Governor Ben Ayade over the control of the party structures in the state but those who gathered at the secretariat, alongside the party Chairman, vowed to float or swim with the Governor.
Some members of the party who spoke to our reporter feared that the party may be balkanized with two parallel Exco and factions. As at the time of filling this report, tension was high and residents believed the development could negatively affect the peace of the State amidst the Covid 19 fight.
Meanwhile, a group, Vanguard for True Democracy in Cross River State, expressed profound gratitude to the national working committee of the PDP “for standing by the truth as far as ward and local government congresses in the state is concerned.”
A statement by the Coordinator of the group, Etim Effiong, said “by sticking to the tenets of democracy in the list of new ward and local government Executive Committee members for the 196 wards and 18 LGAs in the state, the party has shown it is committed to the people. The party has shown it stands for truth and defence of democracy and it is evident it would continue to hold sway in the state.
“The NWC has shown they are for the people by not manipulating anything. The party is greater than any individual and so the Vanguard for True Democracy in Cross River State chapter is standing with the national working committee and NEC of our great party. We thank and pray for them for this giant stride of standing and supporting the people’s choice which is democracy.”