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NIGERIA: PDP Lambasts APC over Ward Congress

 Offers free technical assistance to opposition party  Three killed in PDP congress

Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Sheriff Balogun in Abeokuta and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as a huge embarrassment to democracy, the ward congresses organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country.
The party said it was an irony that a party that daily claims to be on a mission to rescue Nigeria could not even conduct its own congress.

The PDP said it was a shame that the ward congresses were marred by violence in some states.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP,  Olisa Metuh, gave the APC a heavy knock for the mind-boggling tales of imposition, cronyism, thuggery and general disdain for the elementary principles of democracy witnessed at the congresses.
The PDP said: “The savagery witnessed in the exercise which came eight months after the registration of the party, offers a glimpse into the confusion and brutality that will be the order of the day if the APC is allowed to hold power in 2015.

“A passerby would have thought the so-called APC congress was a meeting of thugs as detailed hooligans took over the process on the directives of their party overlords and dealt harshly with members who dared to contest for positions already appropriated to handpicked stooges of the owners of the party.

“From Lagos to Borno, Rivers to Zamfara, the story is consistently the same; a tale of cronyism, thuggery, violence and general disregard for the principles of democracy,” the statement said.
The PDP said the congress had not only exposed the APC as a disorganised party but also a “camp replete with political vampires ready to devour even their own.”

The party said it was now very clear to other members of the so-called ‘legacy parties’ that ganged up with the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to form the APC that ‘all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.’
“Not only did those from the old ACN emasculate their so-called partners, but also they did so in the most uncivilised and barbaric manner, deploying thugs, and using official state apparatus to ensure that they had their way.

“In states where the owners of the party felt they could not have their way, the process was manipulated to create confusion resulting in the shelving of the exercise. For instance, while the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was announcing that the congress would go on nationwide as planned, the APC chairmen in Rivers,  Plateau, Bauchi and the FCT announced the postponement of the exercise in their states.

According to the PDP, the situation was so bad that the congress was  cancelled in Adamawa and Katsina, while in Kano and Sokoto, as there was no  voting as both states chose their ward officials via a strange  ‘consensus’ option.

“These are the ‘progressives’ and ‘democrats’ that  want to rescue Nigeria,” the PDP enthused.
Stating that the APC had no business in a democracy, the PDP said the  opposition party should be honourable enough to commence the process of its own  disbandment.

“This is the same party that called the Independent National Election  Commission (INEC) names and asked for the resignation of its board over  the conduct of the Anambra State governorship election due to slight hitches experienced  in that exercise. Will the APC now be honourable enough to call for its  own disbandment seeing that they had experienced not slight, but massive hitches in their own congress? If the APC cannot manage its own internal affairs, how can it manage a country as complex as Nigeria?” the PDP

The statement recalled that the PDP had held successful congresses and  national conventions where party members were allowed level-playing field  to pursue their ambitions irrespective of sectional, religious and  ethnic affiliations.

While urging Nigerians to disregard the APC in all elections, the PDP said it was ready to offer free technical assistance to the APC on how the organise itself in a democratic setting including the conduct of  transparent and credible congress.

“We know the history of this party and the pedigree of its leaders will hardly yield to democracy, but we are confident that our assistance is handy here,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, three persons were yesterday allegedly feared dead in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, when the supporters of the Peoples Democractic Party(PDP) in the state engaged themselves in a sporadic  shooting over the alleged imposition of the ward executives of the party.

The PDP in the state had last week commenced registration of its members across the 16 local government councils of the state that culminated the conduct of the  ward congress of the party yesterday across the 193 wards in the state.
Already, the state police commissioner, Mr. Ambrose Aisabor, yesterday confirmed that seven people had been arrested in connection with the incident.

The incident according to THISDAY checks happened at Sango area of Ilorin when some of the supporters of the PDP believed to be  thugs engaged in sporadic shooting between themselves against  dissatisfaction over the imposition of ward executives in the wards
THISDAY investigation revealed that there was large turn out of party supporters who abandoned their businesses despite being a working day, it was however marred by violence in some places.

It was gathered that the exercise turned violent in Sango area of Ilorin when a policeman shot into the air in an attempt to control rowdy situation but his gun fell down and was picked by a group of suspected hoodlums who refused to release it to the police.
The development however led the police to  forcefully retrieved the AK-47 rifle from the hoodlums and in the process, another policeman shot at the suspected hoodlums in possession of the gun thereby leading to pandemonium.

Some hoodlums also took the advantage of the crises to set up a burn fire along the area obstructing free flow of traffic.
However, the Ogun State  caucus of  the All Progressives Party (APC) in the National Assembly  has protested the alleged electoral malpractices following the wards congresses of the party held at the weekend.

In its protest letter signed by Senator representing Ogun East, Senator Gbenga Kaka, and  sent to the state Congress Committee, the caucus accused the committee of breaching the guideline.

According to the caucus, in  some local governments, aspirants resolved to use their bank tellers as evidence of intention to contest when the congress committee failed to provide nomination forms, saying aspirants who had no bank tellers were advised not to be allowed to contest.

“In some local governments, it was observed that some types of forms were shared without evidence of payment and a prepared list was read without allowing for harmonisation nor recognising the need for eligible aspirants with proof of payment of the stipulated fees to contest.
“In virtually, all the wards in the state, we have a report of parallel congresses being held by members who did not have bank tellers or proof of payment into the party’s designated banks,” the caucus protested.

In his reaction,  chairman of the state Congress Committee, Ope Salami,  described the allegation as false, saying the committee was in possession of atrocities perpetrated by a faction of the party.

He also said the committee would only recognise the names on the approved  nomination forms,  adding that,  the committee would release the result tomorrow.

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