By Douglas Okoro
The controversy on plan to use Pa Oruta Ngele Stadium Abakaliki has set Ebonyi All Progressives Congress (APC) against Governor Dave Umahi.
While APC insists it would use the stadium for its rally on Saturday, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Emma Uzor, said on Thursday that the stadium could not be used because of ongoing renovation.
Uzor told Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) the government’s stand on the issue.
The chairman of APC in the state, Chief Eze Nwachukwu, on Friday in Abakaliki, told the press that the state government has denied the party access to the stadium.
But Nwachukwu said that neither Umahi nor his privies can stop APC from using the stadium for its rally.
He explained that the party applied for the use of the stadium following all the laid down procedures.
“We officially applied for the stadium in line with laid down rules and clearance was given to the party to use the stadium for our mega rally holding on Saturday.
“For anybody to wake up and say that the venue is no longer available for the party to use, to us in APC, is a huge joke and we regard it as rumour.
“But if the report is correct and actually coming from the state government, all I will say is that no man can stop the rally from holding in the Abakaliki township stadium.
“The stadium was built and renovated with tax prayers’ money and owned by Ebonyi people irrespective of party affiliations.
“I want to urge the teeming party members and supporters to discountenance the said report as venue for our rally remains the Abakaliki stadium, ” Nwachukwu said.
Another chieftain of the party, Chief Egwu Chima, said that the report was a ploy to undermine APC in Ebonyi.
Chima told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the statement allegedly credited to CPS to Gov. Umahi was borne out of fear of the rising popularity of APC and desperation to emasculate the party.
According to him, the mega rally was aimed at receiving high profile defectors from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including senators, adding that PDP was jittery.
“The governor, Chief Dave Umahi, knows that allowing APC to use the stadium for the mega rally where many members of his party are expected to announce their defection to APC amounts to committing political suicide.
“Though the stadium is a public facility, it is under the watch and control of the governor and he will not allow it to be used by a party that has repositioned to take over power from him,” Chima said.
Chima who noted that he predicted the development, however urged the state governor not to engage in actions that could generate political tension in the state.
“I want to urge the governor to shun acts capable of plunging the state into needless political crisis as the 2019 elections draw closer.
“The actions and utterances of key political actors can make or mar smooth and credible elections and electioneering activities in Ebonyi, ” he added.(NAN)