Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
As the crisis rocking the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took a dramatic turn with the decision of a faction of the party loyal to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege to swear in members of its executive committee, the Senator and Chief Great Ogboru have been accused of allegedly trying to destroy the party in the state.
The state leader of the APC, Olorogun Oâ€™tega Emerhor, told newsmen in Asaba that the action of the Omo-Agege and Erue group was an exercise in futility because it was done in total disregard to the guidelines of the National Working Committee of the APC.
The APC governorship candidate in Delta State in 2015 also decried the recent activities of Senator Omo-Agege and four-time governorship candidate in the state, Chief Great Ogboru, accusing the duo of being intent on destroying the party in the state.
According to Emerhor, â€œJones Erue cannot usurp the functions of the National Working Committee of the APC and swear himself in. We understand NWC is currently reviewing the report of the Congresses Appeal Committees and plans to swear in chairmen that are dully validated. Anyone swearing himself in as an executive committee member is engaging in exercise in futility.â€
On the claim by Erue that he had taken over the functions of the state APC chairman, Emerhor observed, â€œHow can I usurp the function of the State Chairman? As a leader Iâ€™m free to meet APC stakeholders in my place to strategise on moving the party forward. How does that turn my place into the State Secretariat?
He further denied the allegation by the Omo-Agege group that he (Emerhor) was trying to shut out some governorship aspirants from the 2019 race, insisting that the â€œprimary election is open to everybody as long as you buy the partyâ€™s nomination forms.â€
Emerhor further explained, â€œHowever that does not stop me as a leader from putting up strategies to ensure that the party will win the governorship election. Yes, as an individual, I have the right to support a preferred candidate but that does stop others from participating. We invited everybody to a unity meeting but Ogboru and his group did not come. How else do you provide a level playing ground to all aspirants?
â€œThe Jones and Ogboru/Omo-Agege group has no regards for the partyâ€™s NWC or congress guidelines. They conducted a parallel congress on Saturday, 19th May when the NWC postponed it to Monday, May 21 without any panel from Abuja. Now, they swear themselves in without approval from Abuja. Obviously, they are out to destroy APC in Delta State.â€
However, immediate past state chairman of the party, Erue, who also returned as the chairman, told newsmen shortly after members of his factionâ€™s executive committee took their oath of office at the secretariat of the party on Westend area of Asaba on Wednesday that he was not to blame for the factional crisis in the party.
He alleged that his group resorted to the conduct of parallel congresses at the ward, local government and state levels because the APC leader in the state, because the state leader of the party, Emerhor, had usurped the position of the state party chairman by convening meeting of the party in his Ughelli North country home.
Erue said, â€œYou heard recently in the media where the de facto leader, Olorogun Emerhor Oâ€™tega said he was creating a level playing ground. As what? I am the chairman of the party, and I run the party. I am the leader. Then, who creates a level playing ground, is it me or him? Is this not the secretariat of the party? Why taking the secretariat elsewhere and call people to come to your place at Evwreni and say that is where the party is?
â€œThat is where we got it wrong. And, when it started going that way, and I know that the party secretariat is in Asaba, I decided to use the secretariat.â€
He also claimed that disagreement over the issue of zoning of the governorship ticket in 2019 to any of the three senatorial districts was another bone of contention.
He claimed that his group insisted that all interested aspirants from the three zones should be given equal opportunity to seek the governorship ticket while the Emerhor group that includes former state assembly speaker, Chief Victor Ochei and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, was allegedly trying to ensure the emergence of a governorship candidate from Delta North senatorial zone in 2019.
â€œYou cannot be talking from one side of your mouth and speaking another thing. You say a level playing ground, yet you are shutting some people out by zoningâ€, Erue said. â€œIf we say we should maintain zoning, the original system of APC is that the governorship was zoned to Delta central in 2015. If that was so, and this time, everybody has come into the party and we are saying no to zoning of the governorship.â€