5th September, 2012
As political parties nominate flag bearers for the 6 October Plateau North senatorial bye-election, there is confusion in the Labour Party (LP), as two persons are claiming to have been nominated.
Locked in the battle are a former member of the House of Representatives, Lumumba Adeh, and former Jos North Council Chairman, Mr Danladi Atu.
Atu was said to have been nominated in a primary election conducted by the party officials in Jos on Tuesday evening.
In the said election, which was witnessed by INEC officials, but held in the absence of the party chairman and secretary, Atu scored 108 votes to floor Adeh, who scored no vote.
The returning officer, Mr Yusuf Manjau, who announced that result, said that the election was a chance to regain the senate seat the party lost to the late Sen. Gyang Dantong in last year’s general elections.
In a new twist, however, the Adeh camp has claimed that its man had been endorsed for the poll by the LP state officials in conjunction with the LP headquarters in Abuja.
Some of them, who spoke to NAN, said that the primary election was an exercise in futility as the LP headquarters had adopted Adeh, who contested and lost against Dantong in the general election last year.
Mr Emmanuel Jugul, a top LP member and former chairman of the Plateau House of Assembly Committee on information, said Adeh had been adopted as the LP senatorial candidate.
He wondered how anyone could have claimed to conduct any primary election with none of the aspirants or party officials at the venue.
“I am a delegate, but did not know there was any primary election on Tuesday. Some desperate people just gathered and conducted what I believe was just a child’s play.
“How could anyone have conducted a primary election without the chairman, secretary or any other official of the party?’’
“The LP leadership called the party’s stakeholders for a meeting in Abuja for a meeting only for some people to just rush to conduct a primary election behind the officials. How can such exercise be any credible? ‘’
Adeh, who also reacted to the said primaries, said that “there could not have been any primary election in Jos, when all the officials of the party, including the state chairman and secretary, are here in Abuja’’.
“Aside the party officials, we have a serving senator, Joshua Dariye. Did you see him or any other top member of the party at the venue of the said primary elections?’’ he asked NAN rhetorically, in a telephone interview.
Adeh alleged that Manjau, who was said to have conducted the primary election, was not a member of the LP, and wondered in what capacity he could have carried out such exercise.
“I think some people just gathered and carried out a show that is just a pure waste of time.’’
LP spokesman, Sylvanus Namang, who spoke on the controversy, however faulted the Adeh camp’s claim to the ticket based on the belief that he (Adeh), contested against Dantong last year and should therefore be the automatic candidate.
“Based on the feeling that he contested last year, Adeh believes he should be the automatic choice, but the law has been changed and since this election is fresh and resulting from the death of an incumbent, the process is totally new.
“It simply means that parties should start afresh and could file new candidates.
“Again, the absence of the candidates and the party officials should not invalidate the Tuesday primary since they all knew that the election was going to hold because the party’s constitution is in support of the congress for the nomination.’’
On the party officials’ reported adoption of Adeh for the ticket, Namang described the two top party officials – the Chairman and the Secretary – as “sell-outs’’ who had connived with the party headquarters to give the ticket automatically to Adeh, even without a primary election.
But the LP State Secretary, James Pam, rejected Namang’s allegations that they were sell-outs, and declared that the Tuesday primaries were “simply a charade’’.
“The issue of being sell-outs does not even arise. We actually planned to conduct the primary elections, but we were summoned to Abuja by the LP headquarters, so we decided to shift the primaries till our return, only for one of the candidates to gather his supporters and allocate some votes.
“How can you conduct a primary election for two people and feel they are credible when one of the aspirants was not represented?
“How can one of the aspirants score zero, while another will take all the votes and you feel there was any fair play? ‘’
Pam advised the party members to await further directive in respect of the party’s flag bearer for the Oct 6 senatorial election, and declared that the Tuesday primaries was conducted in error and was therefore of no use.
“The LP headquarters has said that only Abuja could fix a date for the exercise.
“So, for now, I can only ask the party loyalists to await a new date for primaries or the final decision of the party headquarters on our flag bearer.’’ (NAN)