As controversy trails last Saturday’s Delta Central Senatorial bye-election, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is alleged to have doled out the sum of N5million to state chairmen of moribund political parties in the state to give the election a clean bill of health at a press conference today.
About 19 chairmen converged at the state secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Asaba for the conference, led to the event by the Special Adviser on Inter Parties Relations, Mr. Taju Isiche and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education Monitoring, Mrs. Rhoda Ikede.
Confiding in our correspondent, one of the party chairmen said they received their 30 pieces of silver following the press conference at the office of Mr. Isiche. Each of them received a miserly N50,000.
At the event, perhaps under promises of vaster riches if they sang very loudly, they described the election as “the most transparent, free and fair election in our recent history.”
Declaring the press briefing open, Isiche, who ordered photographers to turn off their cameras, admonished the party chairmen to comport themselves in an orderly manner and to be of good behaviour in front of the journalists.
Before Isiche’s admonition, a mild drama had ensued between the Inter Party Special Adviser and some party chairmen who insisted that the SA should take a seat with them at the high table but he vehemently resisted, stating that he was not supposed to be among them in the first place.
Addressing the press on behalf of the group, the leader of the group and state chairman of a moribund ACPN, Mr. Paul Isamade, stated that earlier in the day, the party chairman met in an emergency gathering where they decided that the election should be given a clean bill of health.
“We commend INEC for the conduct of a transparent, free and fair election in which the PDP candidate, Chief (Hon) Emmanuel Edesiri Aguariavwodo polled a total 263, 024 votes to emerge the winner of the senatorial seat.”
They also congratulated Governor Uduaghan for what they described as “his role in ensuring a safe conduct of the most transparent, free and fair election in our recent history.”
The communiqué was signed by 19 party chairmen: Oke Idawene, SDP; Joe Chukwu, ADC; Efe Tobor, MPPP; Moses Abeh, APA; Chidi Odogwu, NNPP; Ngozi Ogbogo, AD; Paul Isamade, ACPN; Victor Egwuenu, PPN; Jude Eze, KOWA; Nelly Nwaka, AA; David Ebrunu, ACD; Ashikodi David, Accord Party; Peters Emuakpoje, CPP; Oluremi Mohammed, PDC; Anyanwu Ikechukwu, NCP; John Freeman Ghiadike, NPP; Tony Eboka, APGA; and Val Chichi, UDP.
Noticeably absent were the All Progressives Congress and the DPP. They did not append their signatures to the communique, either.
The parties present also congratulated the Nigeria Police force, State Security Service (SSS), The Nigeria Civil Defence Corp’ and the military for what they called the maintenance of security law and order before, during and after the election, and called on all parties to the election to unconditionally accept the results as already announced by the electoral commission.
Curiously, not only could the chairmen not answer several questions thrown at them by the journalists, they contradicted themselves in several ways.
Some parties whose candidates had rejected the results of the election were also in attendance. One of them was APGA chairman Tony Eboka, whose candidate, Chief Lucky Omoru, had vowed to go to the tribunal after earlier rejecting the results. He made himself a laughing stock as he failed to answer questions put to him to reconcile his role and involvement in endorsing the results after his candidate had called for cancellation of the election.
The last may not have been heard of the apparently rigged press conference.
Lamented one chairman who spoke to our correspondent, “Each party chairman was given N50,000 each only but we learnt what the governor made available for this deal was more than what the SA gave us because he is fond of cheating us. In his office a source confided in us that the governor released the sum of N5million and if you calculate everything given us is not even half of what was released.”
If the purchasing price of the press conference by the governor was actually N5m, it means that the double-crossed party chairmen were shortchanged by an average of over N213,000.