Again, Anambra PDP Returns To Its Old Path
AT a time many people thought the Anambra State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would discover itself through the recent congress to produce an authentic state executive, the party proved optimists wrong.
The Guardian checks have revealed that true to type, the party worked towards a predetermined answer to produce the Ken Emeakayi-led executive.
Already, a parallel state executive has emerged to return the party to status quo. Consequently, the likelihood of recourse to law courts would become a feature of the party in the days ahead.
While the process to bring about a new executive lasted, certain stakeholders, notably the self-acclaimed political godfather, chief Chris Uba, and the 2013 governorship candidate of the party, Comrade Tony Nwoye, maintained their aloofness.
Nwoye had days before the start of the congress picked holes at the entire process, stressing that the PDP National Publicity Secretary, chief Olisa Metuh, was midwifing the exercise.
The Guardian gathered that having settled to organise a congress to put in place a 27-member State Working Committee (SWC), the PDP NWC directed the National Publicity Secretary to communicate the decision to the party faithful in Anambra State. “But instead of passing the information with clarity and sense of responsibility, Metuh decided to take sides with certain characters to ensure that they impose a particular candidate as Chairman,” said a source at the PDP headquarters, who pleaded anonymity.
He disclosed that the plan to return Emeakayi as chairman was hatched by Senator Andy Uba, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu and Okey Ezenwa, adding that the understanding was that Emeakayi should work for the eventual governorship ticket of Senator Uba, while Ukachukwu would be handed over the party’s ticket for Anambra South Senatorial District currently occupied by Uba.
The source said, “Metuh, who is angling to become the National Organising Secretary of party, is doing everything in his power to ensure that the PDP in Anambra State remains their bargain store.”
It is evident that plans for the 2016 National Convention of the party and concerns for the 2017 governorship in the state are behind the return of Anambra PDP to its old path.
Money is usually central in Anambra politics as such; protagonists always plot for positions depending on their potential for money spinning. For instance, in the 2015 elections, a particular candidate for House of Representatives in the state parted with a whooping sum of N800 million to pick the party’s ticket.
The money went to three individuals including, a member of the NWC, a chieftain of the party and a leader of the Presidential action committee from the state.
The party’s governorship candidate in the 2013 election, Nwoye, was also accused of abandoning his erstwhile political godfather, Senator Andy Uba; immediately he got a new influential financier in the person of Prince Arthur Eze.
Party chieftains complained that instead of ploughing back several millions of naira he received from the oil magnate into the electioneering campaigns, Nwoye was busy constructing and buying up property in Abuja.
It was alleged that based on that development, the state PDP under Emeakayi distanced itself from Nwoye’s election petition at the tribunal. Intriguingly, both men are at the centre of the present fractionalisation of the party through disparate state executives.
Last Thursday, Nwoye led what has come to be known as PDP Equity Group, to inaugurate a steering committee. The steering committee is headed by Mr. Osita Ezenwa, the son of second republic deputy governor of old Anambra State, chief Austin Ezenwa.
The Emeakayi group believes that Ezenwa opted to join ‘the renegades’ to avoid being called to explain how the presidential campaign funds handed to him for the 2015 election was disbursed.
However, despite being regarded as renegades, Nwoye, speaking during the inauguration at Emaus House, Awka; declared that the July 25 exercise was not a reflection of a true state congress. Nwoye stated: “It was a situation where a few individuals, tele-guided by PDP National Publicity Secretary, Metuh, handpicked officers to run the PDP in Anambra State. Today, we say nobody can oppress; they are too small.
At the end of the day, there would be a congress. What we are saying is that there should be option A4 for the congress, because our people believe in the party and democracy. No one person can usurp our right to free choice.”
He maintained that the leadership being inaugurated represents the authentic members of PDP in Anambra State, adding that the National Acting Chairman, Uche Secondus, and NWC recognise that fact. “This group, Equity Forum, is the authentic PDP in Anambra State; we are the owners of this party here.
Our founding father, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and stakeholders like Prince Arthur Eze have asked me to tell you that you are the authentic PDP. We are equal to the task of the battle ahead,” he said.
Regretting that the group was denied participation in the July 25 congress to ensure a closed space aimed at throwing up a sole candidate to be returned unopposed, Nwoye wondered why the sale of forms was done hurriedly without accommodating complaints that the Eid el Fitri holiday precluded aspirants from purchasing forms.
Nwoye had also at a press conference before the July 25 congress, claimed that the national secretariat of the party did not give enough time for aspirants to purchase forms, saying that the notice for the congress was published on a Thursday and election fixed for the following Tuesday, despite the fact that two of the working days in between, Friday and Monday; were public holidays for the celebration of Eid el Fitri.
He stressed that the July 25 event was inconsistent with democracy and openness. The equity group, therefore, passed a vote of no confidence on Metuh, warning that his antics could pave way for the triumph of All Progressives Congress (APC) in subsequent election, especially, the 2017 governorship in the state.
It would be recalled that barely a week to the July 25 congress, some stakeholders in Anambra Central Senatorial district pleaded that the zone be allowed to produce the next chairman of the party, arguing that since the zone may not be angling for the governorship, it would be proper to have the chairman come from the zone.
That sentiment was also canvassed at a forum organised by Uche Ekwunife, the Senator representing the district, to thank stakeholders for supporting her. But some stalwarts of the party in Anambra said the call for the next PDP state chairman to come from the Central Senatorial district was a ploy by Mr. Peter Obi, who recently rejoined the party, to start calling the shots in Anambra PDP.
Yet the Equity Group said the nomination of Ossy Ezenwa to lead the group was in line with the argument that the chairman should come from Central Senatorial zone to provide a level field for both Anambra North and South to contest the governorship in 2017.
With the latest division in Anambra PDP, the question that arises is whether a register of PDP members exists in the state and in whose custody?
Ever since former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju lost the governorship ticket of the party in 2003 and moved over to the Alliance of Democracy (AD), PDP members have been in constant political excursions through AD, Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) among other parties.
Nonetheless, during the July 25 congress that brought back Emeakayi as state chairman, the sole candidate scored the endorsement of 958 voters with nine abstentions. Delegates were drawn from the 326 wards of the state.
While Ike Abonyi led the five-man congress committee, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through Mr. Godfrey Nsofor and other staffers, monitored the exercise.
Metuh was alleged to have convened a meeting at his Nnewi country home, where he convinced stakeholders present to settle for Emeakayi pointing out that “the cap of state chairman fits Emeakayi properly” contending that the Ihiala-born politician was seen as the best grassroots politician in the state capable of mobilising the people anytime, anywhere for PDP.
It is this open canvassing for votes by the NWC member that the Equity Group point to as evidence of Metuh’s show of partiality and impunity.
The Guardian further gathered that it was after the stakeholders bowed to Metuh’s choice for the chairmanship that the pattern of filling other positions was ironed out. “The former governor, Obi, nominated chief Joe Martins Uzodike for the state secretary, while Senator Andy Uba gave the name of chief Egwuoyibo Okoye to fill the position of financial secretary.
In the same manner, while the Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, presented Mr. Goddy Ejiofor, for the post of Deputy Chairman; her counterpart from Anambra Central, Senator Ekwunife threw up Mr. Mike Ikebundu, who was eventually selected as the Vice Chairman for Anambra Central.
Chairman of the congress committee, Abonyi, out of joy at the peaceable way the positions were filled, noted that if not for the incessant strife and squabbles in Anambra PDP, the party would have been producing governors and afforded the system opportunity to settle every interest group.
Abonyi had stated: “This is the first time Anambra State PDP witnessed a peaceful congress and I am lucky to lead the team that conducted it. In the past, we all heard of stories of how those who came to conduct congresses in this state were smuggled out of the state at night for fear of being attacked by rival groups in the party.
The desire of the PDP NWC is to set up the party’s structure in Anambra State because the state was not being represented at the various meetings convened by the party.”
Abonyi had pointed out the three-man appeal committee set up by the national headquarters to entertain protest from aggrieved members over the conduct of the congress.
But chairman of the appeal committee, Mr. Collette Odenigbo, disclosed that there was no protest from any quarter saying that that was an indication that most members were happy with the process and entire outcome of the exercise. However, the coming on board of a splinter group, the Equity Group, has perforated such lofty sentiments.
The truth of the matter and position on the ground is that Anambra PDP in back to its old path. From talks of harmonisation, litigations would follow such that by 2017 the party stands the chances of fielding two governorship candidates! When that happens, party officials smile to the bank and diminish democratic ideals in the state further.