The crisis of confidence which has been bedevilling the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the integration of those who decamped to the party from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2020, festered on Wednesday as a section of the State Working Committee (SWC) announced the suspension of the State Chairman, Dr Tony Aziegbemi.
The decision to suspend Aziegbemi, according to the party’s State Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare, was taken after a meeting at the state party secretariat on Tuesday, 1 June 2021, where the two-thirds majority of members resolved in a motion that the state chairman should step aside and therefore suspended from his position and Hon Harrison Omagbon, the State Deputy Chairman, appointed to act in his place until the determination of the allegations levied against the chairman.
But in a swift reaction, the state Youth Leader of the party, Ehis Destiny, described the news of Aziegbemi’s suspension as “embarrassing, provocative, misleading, and mischievous”, stressing that “there was never a time where the state working committee members met and decided that the chairman Dr Tony Aziegbemi should be suspended.”
Nehikhare, in a statement issued late Tuesday, added that “an Investigative Committee is hereby set up, headed by the State Legal Adviser, Barr Arthur Esene, and is mandated to report back to the Working Committee within one week. Other members of the Committee are Mrs Linsdale Tes Sorae (State Woman Leader) and Dr Wilson Imongan (State Auditor).
“Amongst the allegations, Dr Tony Aziegbemi was accused of gross misconduct by brewing unnecessary tension and disunity among party members in the state in a manner akin to bringing the party into disrepute,” the Publicity Secretary added.
According to him, the decision to suspend the chairman was a hard-on, but a necessity as it was “designed to bring sanity back to our party. It would be like ignoring the elephant in the room if we ignore this macabre dance as Edo people have watched in utter amazement and disappointment how Dr Tony Aziegbemi has been roped and entangled by his actions and unfortunately too, his inactions in the management of the affairs of the party.”
In his reaction via a statement titled: “SUSPENSION OF DR TONY AZIEGBEMI, PDP CHAIRMAN EDO STATE,” the Youth Leader said that “all the claims in that Mr Chris Nehikhare’s publication were merely falsified, manipulated, and conjured by him, his paymaster, and his cohorts. This publication by Mr Chris Nehikhare is embarrassing, provocative, misleading, and mischievous”
“I am a member of the PDP state working committee. Currently, l am the PDP state Youth Leader. We were with the state chairman on June 1, 2021, till the close of work at about 4 pm. While in the chairman’s office, there was nothing that is suggestive of the chairman being suspended. It is very disturbing, disheartening, and embarrassing to read on the pages of social media this morning that, our chairman, who is a peace-loving, friendly, amiable, enthusiastic, dedicated, and pragmatic leader has been labelled and maliciously maligned by an overzealous and satanic publicity secretary, whose only stock in trade is to pull others down. It is however unfortunate that we live in a society where honest and straightforward people are slaughtered at the altar of innocence and truthfulness,” Destiny lamented.
According to the Youth Leader, Aziegbemi had at all times strived “to carry everybody along since he became the party’s chairman in the state. Some powers that be, who believe that PDP in Edo State is their private and personal estate has tried every means to hijack the administration of the party in the state, even when they know what they are doing is wrong.”
He asked Nehikhare to immediately retract the statement he issued “tender an unreserved apology to the state chairman Dr Tony Aziegbemi in person and the entire Edo State PDP in general.”
Aziegbeni, it would be recalled had three weeks ago, wrote a letter to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, accusing Governor Obaseki of planning to dissolve the party structures from the ward level to the SWC in order to pave way for the AP members who in 2020, decamped with Obaseki to the PDP, after he had lost his bid for a second term ticket in the APC.
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