By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has denied an allegation that it illegally released over 150 ballot papers to Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, for the ongoing party’s South-West zonal congress in Osogbo, Osun State.
The national organising secretary of PDP, Col Austin Akobundu (rtd), who dismissed the claim on Monday, said with the new measures put in place, it was quite difficult that as many as 150 extra ballots would have been illegally released.
The party said it was reacting to a petition purportedly signed by the Ogun State chairman,
Mr. Sikirulai Ogundele, on behalf of chairmen of Ogun, Lagos, Osun and Ekiti State chapters of the party.
According to the PDP, the petition which is circulating on the social media, alleged that “over 150 (One hundred and fifty) ballot papers for the election of National Vice Chairman and Zonal Secretary have been released to a group illegally by a Staff of the Directorate of Organization and Mobilization intended for ballot stuffing.”
The petition also claimed that: “the hatched job of stuffing the ballot boxes with these illegally released ballot papers is to be supervised and achieved by a ‘certain Senator Anyanwu.”
Refuting the claims, Akobundu said: “in keeping with the mandate of the National Working Committee (NWC) to ensure free, fair and transparent South West Zonal Congress:
“The electoral materials including all sensitive documents were jointly released to the Congress Committee Chairman and Secretary just yesterday afternoon (11/04/2021).
“The voting procedures for Zonal Elections have since changed from the previous method of issuing one ballot per position to each delegate at a time.
“Under this NWC, we have reformed our voting process by creating a “Ballot Booklet” where all positions are combined into a booklet and one booklet will be given to each delegate for him/her to vote for all the positions at the same time. So then, the allegations that Ballot Papers for the National Vice Chairman and Zonal Secretary were issued as suggested in the Petition is not only false but irresponsible.
“The total number of Delegates on the approved Delegates list which was released yesterday was 743 (Seven Hundred and Forty-three) and the total ballot booklets released to the Congress Committee yesterday afternoon was 750. So, where did the claim that extra 150 ballots were ‘illegally’ released come from?
“The National Directorate of Organisation and Mobilization runs an independent computerized system (the author(s)) of the petition under reference are aware because when they came to update their Delegates List, they were put in front of the Directorates’ Database to verify their updated lists. Every unit runs on its own and therefore, each unit knows what needs to be done at every stage.
“The unit that calculates the total number of Delegates is separate from the one that issues the Ballot papers which is also different from the unit that releases. With this in place, it is quite difficult that as many as 150 extra ballots would have been illegally released, as mischievously alleged.
“For any member of our Party, especially at the level of a State Chairman to refer to a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as “a certain Senator Anyanwu” is impolite, insulting, reckless and this should be discouraged.
“Sen. Anyanwu is a respectable leader of our Party and a very known committed Party member. These libelous narratives is a grave violation of Section 58(1)(h).
“I wish to implore every member of our Party, the Delegates and Stakeholders across the Country to discountenance this unnecessary, irresponsible, reckless and false publication.”
While he noted that the party wouldn’t have replied to the misleading letter since the allegations are false and malicious, Akobundu stated that “in this age of Social media, it is important to save the unsuspecting public from falling prey to the antics of the author, in the name of politics.”
He added that the party has consistently conducted some of the best primary elections, which he listed to include the last “Presidential Primary election of October 2018 was accorded the status of the most transparent and best primary election of any Political Party in the history of our Country.
“Ekiti (2018), Osun (2018), Kogi (2019), Bayelsa (2019), Ondo (2020) Governorship Primary Elections were unquestionably free, fair, transparent and credible,” he added.