Uneasy calm pervades the National Secretariat of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as some members of the National Working Committee are accused of collecting about five hundred million naira as gratification to install Governor Ben Ayade’s candidates in the Saturday, August 8, 2020 botched congress

Ayade and National Assembly members have been locked in battle over who controls the ward, local government and state excos of Cross River PDP.

Investigations revealed that after all desperate attempts by Ayade to have his way failed, he dispatched a three man team with about N500m to the national secretariat to ensure all obstacles are cleared and pave way for the emergence of his candidates by hook or crook.

The team includes Honourable Chris Ogar, representing Etung State Assembly, Alphonsus Eba, the Director General of Due Process and Price Intelligence Bureau and his preferred state Chairmanship candidate, and Ms Amina Arong, a member of National Exco.

Armed with the cash, the team opened negotiation with the National Chairman, Uche Secondus, who in turn was said to have recruited the National Secretary, Senator Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri, and the Legal Adviser, Enoidem, to see a way of doctoring the candidates and delegates’ lists in favour of Ayade.

The team had also contacted some members of the electoral panel and INEC representative to see how they can use Ayade’s list to conduct the congress or totally compromise the process to favour the governor’s faction.

Sources close to the secretariat revealed that the lobby team from Calabar made mouth-watering offers ranging from $20, 000 to $50, 000 and in cash.

While the electoral panel members and INEC representative were mobilised with $20,000 each and $30,000 respectively with a promise of another $20,000 if they can compromise the accreditation and allow their illegal delegates into the venue of the congress to vote, Secondus and his team were offered between $40,000 and $50,000 to deliver and get something extra after the process.

Trouble was said to have started when one of the panel members leaked the bribe allegation to the National organising Secretary, Colonel Austin Akobundu (retd), who resisted all moves to compromise any process with regard to Cross River congresses.

Akobundu, is seen at the national secretariat as a stickler for discipline and due process and won’t engage in any act of illegality when it comes to party congresses and primaries.

This has divided the members of National Executive Committee, NEC, and even led to a shouting match yesterday at the Wadata House between Akobundu and the National Secretary, fuelling speculations that Cross River case may end in stalemate

The Southern Examiner gathered that the leaked bribe scam might have necessitated the postponement of the congress as a face saving measure to enable the leadership to put its acts together and chat a way forward.

It was learnt that Ayade would have had his way but not that the authentic lists, stamped and signed with some security measures, had already been sent to all security agents and INEC for their necessary action.

Some party stalwarts told our reporter that they know the national leadership would derail from doing the right thing in Cross River because at times like this they make brisk business at the detriment of party electoral guidelines.

One of the party members, who simply gave his name as Chief Innocent Arikpo, said they have been in the game and so had to lay a last minute ambush at Wadata House to be able to decode every move made by Ayade’s lobby team.

Arikpo, in a chat in Calabar, said if the leadership fails to do the right and goes ahead to compromise, we shall destroy PDP in Cross River and we shall all be the loser.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan did not respond to calls by SMS to get the official position of the party on the allegations.

Ologbondiyan in a statement on Saturday announced the postponement of the State Congress in Cross River State by one week.

The NWC, Ologbondiyan explained that after due consultations and in exercise of its powers under the PDP constitution, postponed the Cross River State Congress from the earlier scheduled date of Saturday, August 8, 2020 to Saturday, August 15, 2020.

The party continued that the postponement is sequel to demands of exigencies of party administration.

The statement appealed to all critical stakeholders, elders, leaders as well as members and supporters of the great party, particularly in Cross River State, to be guided accordingly.

Source: The Southern Examiner

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