The Chairman of the Labour Party in the South-East Zone, Mr. Innocent Okeke, has refuted allegations that Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State interfered with the party’s primary election in the state.
POLITICS NIGERIA reports that following a primary election conducted by Abia State Governor-elect, Alex Otti, Senator Athan Achonu emerged the Labour Party candidate for the November 11 gubernatorial election in Imo State.
However, rumors circulated that Governor Uzodinma was the sponsor behind Achonu’s victory.
In response to these claims, Okeke released a statement on Monday in which he dismissed the notion that Governor Uzodinma had any influence over the primary election.
Okeke emphasized that the party conducted a fair, transparent, and legitimate election process to determine its candidate.
The exercise, according to him, “reaffirmed the genuine call for a paradigm shift in line with the new Nigerian mantra. Apart from having INEC staff to supervise the primary, security agents and observers were on ground to observe the entire exercise.
“The winner of the election, Senator Athan Achonu did not spring a surprise as he was always among the top three of likely winner of the election.
“At present, the party in Imo is concerned about building bridges and embarking on genuine reconciliation of every aggrieved member, bearing in mind that what is happening in the Labour Party is not peculiar to it. It is common with party administration in Nigeria.”
He urged every aggrieved aspirant “to apply caution and shun any form of blackmail against the party members as we recently saw in a trending voice message, purporting that our governorship candidate, Senator Athan Achonu has a deal with the incumbent governor to undermine the party’s expected victory in Imo which is not true.
“The above assumption is not only laughable but exposes the desperation of the originator. We must embrace the spirit of sportsmanship. Let the defeated in a fair contest congratulate the winner and work for the party’s victory as we have over time witnessed in all the other states where Labour Party conducted her governorship primaries.
“Contrary to what naysayers are selling to the unsuspecting public, the election was done strictly in compliance with the delegates’ list as they emerged from their wards after a credible congress. As we know, each ward represents a community in the state. This simply means that 305 Imo state communities gathered at the Landmark Event Centre Owerri, on the 15th April, 2023, to elect the best candidate to fly the flag of Labour Party for the forth coming election. Each Community in the state was given an opportunity to contribute to who later became the standard bearer.
“As National Vice Chairman (South East) of our great party and a member of the Electoral Committee, I attest to the fact that every process taken to conduct the primary election was transparent and without bias. We understood that it was never going to be easy managing 16 aspirants in a single election, but we did it seamlessly to the applause of the contestants.
“Those trying to plant seed of discord in our party over the conduct of the primary election should have a rethink. They should rather explore avenues provided in the party’s constitution in seeking redress, not by mudslinging.
“The party and our candidate will accommodate everyone in the scheme of things.”
He further stated his confidence that the Labour Party will succeed in producing the next governor of Imo state.