By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Internal democracy was at the weekend relived by the Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as 292 councillorship candidates emerged to carry the party’s flag in the December 17 local government elections following the successful primaries held in all the council wards in the state.
At the same time, a total of 876 ad hoc delegates were also elected through Option A4 for participation in the forthcoming primary where the party’s chairmanship candidates would emerge as part of the new initiative to allow party members to have strong voice in the choice of party candidates.
The primaries at the grassroots was indeed a pleasant surprise for grassroots members of the ruling party as the state leadership kept its promise and allowed councillorship candidates for the December 17 local government election to emerge through open contest.
The state Chairman of the PDP, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, had while announcing the party’s preparations for the forthcoming council polls, assured party members that the era of imposition of candidates had gone for good, adding that the party was taking power back to the people.
Grassroots democracy was therefore relived as thousands of party members converged at their various wards and filed behind the aspirants of the choice as the party adopted the popular option A4 for the primary election.
The turn out was very impressive as party members, who braved the scorching sun to participate in electing the councillorship candidates expressed delight that they were having a say in who would represent them.
To ensure that internal democracy was not in any way compromised, the local zoning arrangements still allowed for aspirants from the area where the councillorship seat was zoned to vie for the party ticket.
Even in areas where the voting materials arrived late, party members waited patiently as was the case at Ajatanigu Ward A in Ikwuano Local Government Area where over 5,000 persons were waited for party officials to come and conduct the primary polls.
Ward chairman of the party, Hon. Godwin Nwosu, told journalists monitoring the exercise that the primary election was so important to the people a the grassroots hence they were prepared to wait as long as it would take for the officials to arrive with the election materials.
Late arrival of materials was also noticed at Ubakala Ward A in Umuahia South Local Government Area and Umuosu/Umunnansulu Ward II in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area where party members were kept waiting for hours to cast their votes.
At Ubalkala Ward A where over 5,000 people were expected to vote for the election of councillorship candidate it was a herculean task for party officials to conduct the accreditation as people refused to conduct themselves in orderly manner to allow for hitch-free accreditation.
Former party chairman of the ward, Charles Onyekekwem, attributed the unruly behaviour of members to lack of understanding, pointing out that the party guideline stipulated that membership register of the ward should be used for accreditation.
At Umuahia Urban I where the primary election was concluded early enough, Ndubuisi Kalu, said the exercise was enough evidence “to show that power has surely returned to the people.”