By Douglas Okoro
Some aspirants, who failed to secure the APC ticket to contest elective positions in Ebonyi, have urged the APC leadership to probe the deployment of funds released for all elections in the state.
The group, who addressed a press conference on Monday in Abakaliki, accused Sen. Sonni Ogbuoji, the Ebonyi APC governorship candidate, of anti-party activities and diverting funds released for the prosecution of all elective positions.
Mr Ogbonnaya Onu, an aspirant for the Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo Federal Constituency seat, who spoke on behalf of the aspirants, urged APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole, to “urgently institute a probe panel to investigate the governorship candidate”.
He specifically accused Ogbuoji of engaging in anti-party activities and diverting Election Support Fund (ESF).
Onu described Ogbuoji as “killer of APC in Ebonyi” due to his alleged nonchalant attitude and failure to mobilize members of the party and supporters for the elections in the state.
The aspirants blamed the candidate for APC’s failure to make any meaningful impact in the general elections, saying that he did not campaign sufficiently to sway voters.
“Ogbuoji abandoned the party, the campaign team and the supporters for three weeks before the governorship and state house of assembly elections.
“He (candidate), was in Abuja and only appeared around 6:30 p.m. on the eve of the governorship election; when he came, he was claiming that the Presidency had directed INEC to declare him winner,” the group alleged.
The group also accused Ogbuoji of substituting validly nominateds candidates with “unpopular candidates” who later defected to the PDP on the eve of the governorship election.
“He substituted genuine party members with people who abandoned the party when it needed them most. That was clearly an indication that he was working with the PDP to kill the APC.
“Our feeling is that Ogbuoji was just a mole in our great party.
“We do not believe that Ogbuoji was serious about winning the governorship race. We believe that he was only interested in the election support fund because he did not campaign anywhere and could not deliver his ward in any of the elections.”
The group noted that some stakeholders of the party donated huge sums of money to the Ogbuoji campaign council, and particularly recalled that the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, was among such donors.
“Unfortunately, Ogbuoji did not utilize the funds to mobilize the electorate for the election and justify the essence for which the funds were donated,” the aspirants fumed.
The group, however, urged APC supporters to keep hope alive, saying that the leadership would do everything to reinvent the party in Ebonyi and make it a formidable opposition.
Reacting to the allegations, Ogbuoji dismissed them as “unfounded and unfortunate”.
Ogbuoji, who spoke through Mr Ikenna Emewu, Director of Media, Ogbuoji Campaign Directorate, said that he put in his best during the election.
“The APC did better in the 2019 election compared to what it scored in 2015. Ogbuoji showcased the best in him.
“We want anybody with proof that Ogbuoji diverted election funds or indulged in anti-party activities to come forward and prove his or her allegation.
“We implore members of the public and supporters of Ogbuoji to discountenance such baseless accusations; Ogbuoji could not have diverted funds meant for his own election.
“There is also no sense in the claim that the candidate was involved in anti-party activities because there is no way he would have worked against himself and his candidature,” Emewu said.