Anambra PDP: How national convention largess tears party apart
Some weeks ago, when stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State gathered at the zonal office of the party in Enugu for the inauguration of the state, local government and ward executives, the impression was that the old crisis in the state chapter was over.
The executive members being inaugurated, who emerged from the congresses of the party held last year could not take off following series of litigations that trailed the elections; therefore, brokering peace and agreeing that the event should hold at all suggested a way forward.
Ceasing the moment, national Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Austin Umahi had addressed stakeholders on the need to eschew violence and work together to restore the state to the party.
He had spoken of the prime position of Anambra State in Igboland, stressing that though conflicts abound in human relations, resolution would at all times bring progress.
Explaining that the crisis in Anambra PDP was over, he added: “You were elected since last year. It has taken me almost one year to resolve your differences. Today, I want to make it clear that Anambra PDP will move ahead. Anambra is PDP and if we work hard, we must recover the party beginning from the 2019 general elections”.
However, less than one month after the inauguration and the successful conduct of the national convention that produced Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate, Anambra PDP has returned to the trenches.
The immediate cause of the present crisis where hired thugs were used to deal with some stakeholders was the largesse from the national convention meant for the state. It was alleged that the sum has been disbursed without some members getting their share.
Trouble was said to have started when some of those denied the money went to the state chairman, Ndubuisi Nwobu to ask for their share. Rather than receive their share, they were made to receive several blows by political thugs allegedly working for the party chairman, following a shouting match.
The party’s candidate for Aniocha, Dunukofia and Njikoka federal constituency in the 2015 elections, Chris Okoye, who suffered severe injuries with his Montero jeep shattered, has petitioned the Inspector general of Police, alleging attempt to “kidnap and assassinate” him for asking for his share of the money.
It was gathered that the incident took place around 9.00pm on October 8 at a hotel premises in Awka, Anambra state where Okoye and Innocent Ugwuanyi and another stalwart, whose name was given as Princess Nkechi had gone to demand their money.
Okoye said they returned to Awka from Port Harcourt on October 8. He had received information that the money given to the state chapter from the convention had been distributed, prompting his placing a call on the chairman, who allegedly asked him to meet him at the hotel in the evening.
Okoye, who is still nursing injuries he sustained from the attack, told The Guardian that the state chairman “instigated the attack on me”, stressing that “I don’t know what I did to warrant what happened to me. Their plan was to eliminate me.”
Another party stalwart, Innocent Ugwuanyi, who claimed he was there, corroborated the story: “I escaped by divine grace. I discovered that while Okoye engaged Nwobu in a shouting match, three vehicles loaded with boys entered the compound and they started asking Okoye why he was harassing their boss and releasing punches at him.”
He stated that they had informed the Police at Awka, while going there, stressing that the Deputy Crime Police Officer had posted surveillance team around the area, “but how they disappeared from the area is what I cannot say.”
Okoye however, alleged that Nwobu ordered them (Police) to leave the area before unleashing the attack on them.
It was gathered that each of the delegates that attended the convention received 1500 dollars, adding that the fund was to be shared to both delegates and non-delegates; a development that did not go down well with some members.
A member of the party who spoke without reveling his identity claimed however that he was not sure that Okoye, Ugwuanyi and Princess were in Port Harcourt for the convention.
“There were parallel lists of delegates drawn by Nwobu and Chris Uba. The thing is that Nwobu drew a list and removed those loyal to Uba, not knowing that Uba was smatter and ahead of them. He submitted his own list and when Nwobu brought his own there was confusion. What they did was to harmonize the lists. So if those names are not on Nwobu’s list and not on Uba’s list, then they were not part of the convention,” he said.
Okoye however said, “as a stakeholder of the party I have every right to attend the convention in support of my party and must not be a delegate to attend.”
Reminded that he was being accused of hiring the thugs that carried out the attack, he said: “If I brought thugs to the hotel and my thugs turned against me and I narrowly escaped death and destroyed my car, then that will be a story. Why would I invite Police if I had thugs? The Police can confirm that at the appropriate time”
Okoye said he joined the PDP in 2013, adding, “I am sure his (Nwobu) dime has never gone into the party before, but I have invested in the party. For him to say I am not a PDP member, he was opportune to get that position by chance. Ordinarily, his likes should not hold any public position in a civilized society. I ran election under the PDP and I have remained with the party. I have equally written to the party and waiting for their response”
But reacting to the development, Nwobu told The Guardian that Okoye and those that came to his hotel on that fateful day were not known to him and the party, stressing that his boys would not have kept quiet and allowed him to suffer in the face of danger.
He said: “What brought him to my hotel? I don’t have any business with him and did not invite him to the place. If it was a party issue, should he not have waited for me at the party office? Besides, I don’t know him as a member of the party until we went to Port Harcourt Convention. All the delegates that went to Port Harcourt, I took them in five buses and provided their accommodation. He was not part of us; he was not a delegate. I have been in this game for over 30 years, so how can an unknown element start harassing me over something that does not exist.”
He stated that Okoye had gone to the Police in Awka to ask for security in the guise that a political meeting was being held at the hotel, stressing that, “I did not call any PDP meeting that he should attend. He is only trying to cause confusion and create crisis. I don’t know what he is talking about. Again, he should not come into my apartment to attack me and expect my boys to watch him do that.”
He stated that since emerging the chairman of the party in the state, he had carried everyone along, stressing that: “We hold meetings and anybody who is not in our meeting cannot wake up overnight to start laying claims on what does not belong to him.
“Our party is a party of rules and regulations. I made sure that all those who were supposed to be accommodated were accommodated and they left happily. Anybody can claim anything to get money but not when I am involved and fully convinced that somebody was trying to tell some lies. He has told one and I am waiting to hear more,” he said
A source said the matter was unsettling the party, adding that the fence mending effort of the Southeast leadership was threatened as “other complaints of being shortchanged from the entire arrangement are now being raised by some members.”
Chief Jerry Nwosu, who sees the fresh crisis as unhealthy to the party at the moment said: “I personally felt that an air of hope was on the horizon when we had our inauguration few weeks ago. Now people are talking and strategizing on how to win elections in few months time, we are busy fighting over money. We were charged to go home and win elections and open up to new members. We were asked to bury our differences and stop impunity and sabotage. I want to appeal to those affected to sheath their sword and embrace peace for unity and progress of the party.”
Nwosu recalled that PDP in the state had not known peace since 1999, stressing that the development had denied it election victories and may also deny it in 2019 if care was not taken.
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