Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Delta State Chapter of the All Progressives Progress (APC) has been thrown into controversy over the timetable announced for the formal reception of the Labour Party (LP) candidate in the 2015 governorship election in the state, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, ex-Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Victor Ochei and several chieftains of other political parties in the state.
THISDAY learnt that whereas the state executive body of the party had released a timetable to welcome Ogboru, Ochei and others into the APC, an elders’ group within the party led by Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo, have vehemently voiced its opposition to the plan, saying such formal reception should wait until the Buhari administration conclude appointments into certain federal boards considered as juicy political positions reserved as compensation for loyalty to the party.
THISDAY also learnt that the recent agitation by some few APC elders led by Senator Francis Okpozo, calling for the dissolution of the State Executive Committee is as a result of the recent decision taken on June 6, 2016 by the state executive committee (SEC) of the party and the ongoing arrangements to welcome Chief Ogboru, former Speaker Ochei, their supporters and other PDP, Accord and SDP stalwarts into the party.
The APC in a press statement signed by its Legal Adviser, Barrister Valentine Onojeghuo and State Secretary, Comrade Chidi Okonji further disclosed that the said Delta State Elders and Leaders Group organised by Senator Okpozo rejected the idea of welcoming these new entrants into the party at a time the federal government is yet to release the names of board appointees.
It is the view of the agitators that the party ought to wait so as not to short-change old members, for the fear that the new comers may out-stage them on federal board appointment slots.
According to the statement, “This recent action by this group of ‘Leaders’ is in fact a well-camouflaged yet direct attack aimed to stall the recent progress being made by the State Exco to open up the party and welcome new entrants. The APC in Delta State has for the past few months set up the machinery to welcome into its fold major and key opposition leaders with a view to claiming the state from PDP in 2019.
“Such key leaders include Chief Great Ogboru and the whole of his erstwhile Labour party structure; Hon Victor Ochei (former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly) and his erstwhile governorship structure in the state; Party stalwarts from PDP, ACCORD, and SDP.
“The State Exco only on June 6, 2016, at a well-attended expanded SEC meeting, received and adopted the report of its Welcoming Committee, earlier set up at its February meeting, and also approve resolutions and a timetable for the admission of the new entrants.
“The SEC approved that new members registration is to commence at each ward for a two weeks period in June, a Joint old and new APC Leaders visit to the National secretariat of APC in late June, and a Grand Reception Rally to receive the new entrants and challenge PDP, in early July.”
The statement, however, lamented that the members of the said the Okpozo-led APC Elders group “failed or refused to attend these SEC meetings”.
The statement noted, “Instead, each and every one of them, one way or the other, tried to discourage the Exco from moving ahead with its plans to admit the new entrants. Their insistence was that any admission of such new and strong persons and groups must wait until all federal board appointments are concluded as they fear their positions could be taken by the new comers.
“Not listening or deferring to them became the new sin of the State Exco. To know that they will go this far to try and blackmail the Exco and national to dissolve the State Exco in other to achieve their purpose is alarming and shameful.”
Nevertheless, the party in the statement insisted that it would go ahead with the planned welcoming ceremony, saying the timetable for welcoming new entrants is intact and shall be followed strictly.
The party also stressed that “Delta State SEC is focused on preparing and reinventing the party and its strategies for the task ahead, which is to dislodge PDP from Delta State”. It assured all party faithful and the new entrants that there was no cause for alarm.