By Christiana Ekpa
The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker Committee in Enugu State, Ben Nwoye, on Monday, advised some members of the party against sowing seeds of hatred in the minds of the people ahead of the 2023 general election.
Recall that a former Reps member, Amb. Fidel Ayogu and a former Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Eugene Odo, at a meeting in Nsukka, weekend, rejected the party’s zoning of political offices, including governorship and party positions.
The duo during the meeting held at the country home of another chieftain of the party, Barr. George Ogara, also claimed that the party was marginalizing Enugu North Senatorial zone “despite that they have 50 percent of the entire membership of the APC in the State.”
They also at the said meeting reportedly elected one Simon Idike as the State Vice Chairman, North, of the Party.
However, addressing journalists, Nwoye said whatever action taken at the said meeting was an exercise in futility.
He declared that: “We are operating under a caretaker committee, and under such an arrangement, you don’t conduct elections, nobody, no matter how highly placed you may be, no matter your past and present status.
“I read with total surprise and dismay the report attributed to the former Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, a distinguished learned counsel, Rt. Hon. Eugene Odo, whereby he alleges that one Dr. Simon Idike, who was commissioner for health, has been elected to serve as the zonal chairman of Enugu North.
“It is hard for me to believe that such a report is correct. The fact remains that neither Hon. Eugene Odo nor any other person who attended what they described as a retreat, has the authority from any source whatsoever to conduct election of whatsoever type to produce anybody as a chairman. Caretaker committee members are appointed, they are not elected.
“The position of State Vice Chairman, Enugu North, became vacant as at 2020, before the dissolution of Enugu State Executive Committee and that position, the way zojing was made, was zoned to Igbo-Etiti Local Government and then micro zoned to the Aku area of the LG.
“So, the leaders of the party within that zone are supposed to meet, discuss and agree on who to recommend for appointment as the Chairman of APC Vice chairman. I am the only person who has the power to appoint anybody as a member of the caretaker committee, based on the authority vested in me by Mai Mala Buni, the Chairman APC Caretaker Committee and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
“Both former Speaker Eugene Odo and those who witnessed the alleged election have no such authority to do so. They have to learn and understand that we operate within the law, creating factions have never helped APC.
“Enugu State has suffered enough factionalization, we don’t want it again. The person that flew the flag of APC in 2019, Distinguished Senator Ayogu Eze was not there where the so-called appointment was made. The person that flew the flag of APC in 2015, Barr. Okey Ezea was not there. The BOT member representing Enugu State, Gen. J.O.J Okoloagu (Rtd.) was not there and so on and so forth, and these people were not consulted.”
Nwoye said a greater number of leaders must agree before any one is appointed as the Chairman for the zone, failing which “I will not swear-in a factional chairman.
“Assuming they have appointed him, will they swear him in? Where did they derive the power? Will they force him to come and sit at the State Caretaker Committee? That’s chaos they are calling for; we have worked so hard to unite the party, and on that note, I am pleading with those who hatched that plan to think again, we have all paid dearly on factionalization of the party, we don’t need it anymore.”
On the zoning of political positions ahead of the State Congress, Nwoye said it was a decision taken at a well constituted meeting of the party.
“I am surprised that someone like my friend Eugene Odo will descend so low. At one point in his career, he was House Leader and then two-time Speaker, number one lawmaker in Enugu State. I am very well informed that he has a grasp of the law; laws are made by bodies empowered to make law, if you don’t like that law you follow due process and challenge it.