In Imo, PDP restrategises for relevance
SINCE 2011, when the general elections were held in Imo State, leading to the emergence of then obscure party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) producing Chief Rochas Okorocha as the governor, displacing Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), after four years in the saddle (2007 – 2011), the PDP has been troubled, making all frantic efforts to return to power, but to no avail.
Okorocha later dumped the APGA, playing a leading role in forming the All Progressives Congress (APC), which later formed government, both at the national and state levels in April elections
The PDP also came all out to contest power again in the last April polls, by fielding the then Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, but this was not possible as Okorocha defeated him by over 100,000 votes.
But the PDP still believe it is the most formidable political party in the state and the conviction was based on the fact that between 1999 and 2011, the party ruled the state, from Chief Achike Udenwa (1999 – 2007) to Ohakim (2007 -2011).
Against this backdrop, last week, a group within the PDP formed a group they called “Coalition of True Imo PDP Democrats” to fight the course of restoring internal democracy to the party.
They had, after critical assessment of the poor performance at the polls, realized that there were cases of imposition of candidates for elections and even at congresses. They claimed that the imposition of candidates and officers marred the growth of the party, leading to some influential members dumping the platform for others.
Those behind the initiative were Chief Amugo Ugorji, a renowned Architect, a former Chairman of the party in the state, Dr. Alex Obi, a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Nze Ignatius Umunna, a former Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Chief Okey Dike, among others.
At the well-attended ceremony at the massive Aladinma Shopping Mall, Owerri, the state capital, Udenwa was made the Chairman. Others in attendance were Udenwa’s deputy for eight years, Chief Ebere Udeagu, an Engineer; all the conveners mentioned; a former two time member of the Imo State House of Assembly (represented Ezinihitte Mbaise constituency), Mr. Oliver Enwerenem; a former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Professor Jude Njoku; a former Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Nnaemeka Maduagwu; a former Commissioner for Information, Chief Finbar Ochulor, his Lands counterpart during the regime of Udenwa, Chief Charles Onyeagbako, a Lawyer; Agriculture and Natural Resources counterpart then, Alwell Onwuka, an Engineer; a former Special Adviser in the state, Chief Hilary Odumukwu, among others.
Speaking at the event, Udenwa and Enwerenem blamed themselves for the woes befalling them, calling for the return of the party’s pre-1999 stand on the practice of true internal democracy and jettisoning of the imposition of candidates and other officials of the party who should emerge on democratic grounds of choice of the people rather than being products of god fathers who stay at the comfort of their bedrooms in most cases, to give orders that their preferred candidates be installed at the peril of the masses.
An example of those who have left the party in anger is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume who felt that he was allegedly shortchanged during governorship primaries in 2007 and 2015.
Udenwa confessed that he was a product and beneficiary of the internal democracy in 1999. In his speech, he regretted that the tide had changed, painting the picture that the late joiners of the party could think that the party was in that form since 1999.
While Enwerenem emphasized on the return of zoning formula, in order to give every zone ample opportunity to taste political power, Udenwa in addition, counseled those present to spread the message of non imposition of candidates and officials to the grassroots, adding that their decision did not translate into anti-party activity, stressing that they were loyal to the party at both state and national levels.
He said: “We want to bring back the PDP as it was in 1998. I will be part of any attempt to bring back the PDP as it used to be. It is something that requires your complete commitment. This is not a faction of the PDP. This body is completely loyal to the State Executive body of the PDP, anytime, any day. We are very loyal to the State and Federal Executive of the party. We want things to be done in proper way. This is the time we can salvage it. They are not doing it for selfish purposes. They are doing it for the good of the party.”
The former Minister of Commerce added, “If the PDP had been the way it is today, nothing would have made me to become governor. Any attempt to bring back the PDP how it was is what I stand for. This is something that requires your complete commitment. We shall not allow bad things to continue because we have very good men in the PDP. For sometime, democracy has been eluding the PDP until it climaxed in the last election. We are salvaging the PDP.”
While appealing to the audience, he said, “We have many of our members who left the party not because they wanted to leave, but because they could not stand the impunity in the PDP. Many of them still want to come back and build the party, provided we set a very good standard. The process is going on at the national level.
It is a move to reclaim our party.”
Udenwa said he wanted a return to the political system in which open primary comes to play, adding that every one becomes a delegate. “We are coming to that” he was hopeful.
In his speech earlier, Amugo, speaking for other co-conveners said they had no officials elected in the coalition, stating that there was no such intention. He maintained that they wanted the true picture of the party spelt out in the actions, stressing adding, “The overall aim is to uphold the ideals captured in the name of our party- the Peoples Democratic Party and its slogan- Power to the People. We want to be a truly democratic party in both words and deeds.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the coalition is neither an attempt to form a parallel PDP nor a platform to factionalize the party. It is a genuine attempt to reposition and strengthen it for the future. The time also dictates so. The people constitute the fulcrum on which the pin of democratic action rotates. Anything to the contrary is democracy in its most aberrant form.”
But as the PDP re-strategizes to reclaim power in the state, the state governor, Okorocha has also put his wheels in motion to produce his successor. Speaking with journalists on Monday, he said he would constitute a committee that could involve a journalist to chose an acceptable candidate that will fly the flag in the APC and win the heart of the masses to take the governorship seat in 2019.