Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
An alleged plan to impose George Turnah, a godson of former President Goodluck Jonathan as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Â Representatives candidate for Ogbia Federal Constituency, the former leaderâ€™s area, has raised eyebrows in the state.
Those opposed to his emergence are hinging their argument on the grounds that Turnah, Jonathanâ€™s close lieutenant is facing several cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and therefore Â lacks the credibility to represent the area in the National Assembly.
A source who was at the meeting where the decision to push for Turnahâ€™s Â candidacy was mooted, said party chieftains were surprised that the former President was insisting on Turnah, whose mansion in Kolo, where he hails from is currently under the EFCC seal.
One PDP source who preferred to remain anonymous, said at a time the PDP is trying to move away from the politics of the past, someone who has graft cases in court would be a hard sell for the party.
â€œIt will further portray the PDP in a bad light. Since PDP is going through rebranding to kill this monster of corruption hanging around it, it is only expected that party leaders should support aspirants, who either have no pending corruption cases or had emerged victorious from cases against them.
â€œFielding any candidate with pending corruption cases in the next election means bringing our weakest foot forward. Voters will see us as unserious. It is true that one is only guilty when adjudged so by the court, but when a corruption case is in court, that mixed feeling has been created because the judgement could go anyway.
â€œFormer President Jonathan should know better than supporting Turnah. What he should be after is helping Turner to win his case in court and maybe since Turner is still a young man, presenting him in future elections. This one is dead on arrivalâ€, the source said.
According to the source, who is in the know of goings-on within the party, there was no consultation before his name was pushed forward, adding that even Governor Seriake Dickson was not aware of the decision.
To shore up the credibility of the process, it was gathered that a caucus of PDP held a meeting at the weekend to determine the zoning formula for the Ogbia Federal Constituency seat.
The source added: â€œThe meeting ended in controversy because the anti-Dicksonâ€™s bloc insisted that the electoral position must be zoned to the Kolo creek, where Turnah hails from.
Â â€œIt was rowdy. Nothing was achieved. But those protecting Jonathanâ€™s interest flew a kite that it was zoned to Kolo creek to enable Turner emerge as candidate. But it is not true because nothing has been zoned.
â€œWe were surprised to even see some members of the Dicksonâ€™s camp including some of his key appointees in the council supporting the Kolo Creek arrangement.â€
But Turnah maintained that the position had been zoned to his Kolo Creek insisting that nothing would stop him from emerging victorious, noting that Ogbia leaders told Dicksonâ€™s camp, the Restoration Caucus, the naked truth at the caucus meeting.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Turnah, a lawyer in his early thirties, mentioned leaders including Dicksonâ€™s aides, who supported his ambition and the interest of his godfather as Robert Enogha, Ebiango Egai, Fred Obua and Naomi Ogoli, stressing that they earned his respect.
â€œThe Ogbia man is known for speaking truth at all times no matter the circumstances or consequences. My people exhibited that quality when they told leaders of the restoration caucus the naked truth at a just-concluded caucus meeting of the Ogbia PDP.
â€œUsually, when an Ogbia man wants to tell you naked truth, he says it bluntly and your wealth status or position means nothing to him,â€ Turnah said.
Also, a group, the Front Line Crusaders For Good Governance And Visible Development (FLCGGVD), Coordinated by John Jacob, described the purported zoning arrangement as undemocratic and a misnomer.