For the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Imo State Chapter, August 2015 is the month of reckoning. This is the special month when its teeming members expect a change of baton at the State Executive Council, Local Governments and Ward levels.
If there is anything that gladdens the heart of Imo PDP followers, it is this expected month when changes will be wrought in the party to usher in new bloods and faces to steer the Ship of affairs of PDP to another level. The Bible says that when salt loses its taste, it is only fit for the foot to march it.
Imo PDP Executive has failed woefully in the last two election years. The party Executive failed to deliver the Governorship candidate in 2011, and in 2015. Can a student who failed an examination be promoted to the next class? Unfortunately, it is only in PDP where students who come last in a class are usually skyrocketed to the highest class above even those who did better, and everybody will hail the evil machination with claps.
If not how can a Leader in PDP fail in his booth during an election; fail in his ward and Local Government and be nominated as a Minister, Board Chairman, or even Ambassador.
Therefore, the major question is , how does PDP base its criteria in judging who is a Leader of the party and real party man? Is it by money, political pedigree, the penchant to control teeming followers, or playing Judas?
Imo PDP needs an overhaul that will convince members that the party is serious to move forward in the real and right direction. Members of the party in Imo are disgruntled and only waiting and longing for the next move by those who claim to be leaders of the party. It is only a fool who cannot read it in the faces of PDP members at the grass roots that the party has disappointed a lot of people, and therefore needs a new direction to convince members to tarry awhile till the next election in 2019.
Alot of things need to be sorted out in the party, which must commence with a congress that must be transparent. But should PDP continue to do her thing in the PDP way, the party may be fractured in a manner that it would be in shreds in 2019.
A political party, like any other sociological being evolves. Before the PDP in Imo state became what it is today, the dominant party was the All Peoples Party, APP. It is on record that all the political heavy weights in the state, who are now in the PDP that make the party seem to burst at the seams, were in APP. Name them; Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Arthur Nzeribe, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume etc.
However, these men later trooped to PDP when Chief ID Nwoga was the pioneer Chairman, and the likes of Humphery Anumudu, Greg Mbadiwe, Rochas Okorocha, Ikedi Ohakim, Chief Charles Ugwu,Hon Oliver Enwerenem etc were prominent members.
APP remained strong in Imo State then and robbed shoulders with PDP in equal terms,this during the Chairmanship of old political fox Dr EJK Onyewuchi, with the Young Turks of Imo Politics like Cyril Okafor (Cympox) Mr Egbuladike (Sir White), Okey Ikoro, Emeka Nwajiuba, Humphery Anumudu later joined them; Dr Orikeze Ajumbe etc.
Then APP fought with PDP in number of legislators in the Imo House of Assembly. But APP met its political waterloo in Imo politics during the 2003 Governorship primaries which took place at Rosy Arts Theatre, Owerri.
In a free, fair and transparent Governorship primaries, the youthful Emeka Nwajiuba was coasting home to victory, when suddenly the APP State Executive sold out and against all expectations foisted the name of Bar Humphery Anumudu, as the winner of the primaries, and no more Nwajiuba.
That was how APP allowed PDP win the Imo State Governorship election with Chief Achike Udenwa as the candidate and incumbent Governor. However many believed that had APP allowed the primary to run its full- course and Nwajiuba emerged the party’s flag bearer, APP and Nwajiuba would have crushed both PDP and Udenwa, as Imo people then were poised to dislodge PDP, because of the manner E J K Onyewuchi ran the party, with the youthful Politicians paraded by the APP.
Unfortunately, since after that 2003 debacle, Imo APP has lost its taste, even after the party changed name to All Nigeria Peoples Party,ANPP, with Dr Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe as the State Chairman.
Therefore, if the APP which was making waves in Imo State in 2003 can collapse like a pack of cards today, who says PDP cannot throw away its good will in the State and become the second party, after APC?
Already that is happening, even though Imo PDP members are too arrogant to acknowledge that the PDP in the State is gradually losing its influence.
How can a Political Party that lost two Governorship elections consecutively be boasting that it controls the State? How? The major diadem in a State election is the Governorship seat, which is a collective election of every citizen of the State and not the Senate, House of Representatives, or House of Assembly elections that are zonal and individualistic.
Therefore, whether anybody likes it or not, Imo PDP was not in charge of Imo state Government in 2011, and is not in 2015, which is an indication that the party has lost too much grounds and needs to gird its loins, by first of all taking a sober reflection, and realize the situation it has found itself, and seek the way out.
The party has been lucky since 2011 because the Governor of Imo State Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is not a benevolent and generous leader in the mould of Chief Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim who are free spirits. Had Okorocha been a politician with open arms to embrace all, and allow others to operate at their own frequencies and opportunities, only a remnant would have been left in Imo PDP today.
Everybody saw what happened in the last Governorship election when Okorocha needed help and opened his arms. Did Senator Ifeanyi Araraume,Chief Jerry Chukwueke, Chief Jafac Idika, Chief Charles Amadi (Charlvon) Chief Achonwa Njemanze (Onyiga) and others not jump Ship? Therefore, if Okorocha had thrown his doors wide open all these while and is ready to allow others free entrance and opportunities in APC, Imo PDP would have by now been in coma.
Frankly speaking, the problem with Imo PDP since 2011 has been that of leadership. When a leader shows the way, others will fellow. Till date, the most successful Chairman Imo PDP has ever produced was Dr Alex Obi. Although kudos must go to Chief ID Nwoga for nursing the party into life.
Alex Obi breathed life into Imo PDP and was able to make the LGA Chairmen do his biddings, not by force, but because of his pedigree in managing party resources, by accommoding everybody.
During the time of Alex Obi, PDP swept every election because the power of the party was handed to the grassroots, and not in the hands of money bags and numerous leaders looking for relevance. Obi realized that power, the real political power, lies with the poor masses, the down trodden of the earth, who can make or mar you at the village square during election day.
He combined this by being open to his LGA Chairmen, who took the same method down to the ward levels. Was it not Alex Obi who bought Volvo vehicles for all the twenty seven LGA party Chairmen? His word was his bond, because he knew his LGA Chairmen and they knew him.
One is not saying that Alex Obi is a saint. But there must be something about him that led the Party Chairmen supplicate before him, and gave him results which resonated in the entire State.
It was when Chief Marcillinus Nlemigbo (Marco) assumed office that Imo PDP started the degeneration that has now led to cancer. His emergence produced the worst ever Imo PDP Governorship primaries which led to litigation and eventually the loss of the Governorship seat to the Peoples Progressive Party, PPA, under the candidacy of Chief Ikedi Ohakim ,who later returned to PDP.
That bad spell continued under Bar Eze Duruiheoma, as PDP again lost the Governorship election in 2011 to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, with Okorocha as the candidate. The era of Chief Nnadi Anyaehie continued the lack of vision and lost again the Governorship seat in 2015.
But the real truth remains that after the 1999 election which Udenwa won, PDP has wobbled and fumbled due to internal treachery and sabotage .Udenwa would have lost his second term election, but only that the likes of Nze IMO Umunna and Alex Obi fore- saw what would happen and floated the “Redemption” otherwise called “Onongono” which they used to execute Udenwa’s re-election. Had they relied on PDP machinery to deliver the goods, Udenwa would have suffered the same faith that befell Ikedi Ohakim in 2011 and Ihedioha in 2015.
Though Ohakim had his “New Face of Imo” but he did not divorce the Group completely from the PDP machinery. He depended much on PDP, with a little reliance on “New Face of Imo” and was surprised how PDP leaders sabotaged him, mostly in Orlu Zone.
In the case of 2015, PDP went to the election with a chairman, who is a good man, but not a good politician and was a neophyte in political management.
The office overwhelmed him, and he was confused on what to do among the various Governorship Aspirants who politically and even by age, are his seniors. In the end the primaries ended in chaos with fingers being directed at the State Executive over graft.
A few weeks ago, the media was awash with allegations and counter allegations, as Governorship Aspirants made accusations on those in the Imo PDP Executive who collected Dollars to bend the rules.
Whatever be the case let the forth coming August party congress clear the augean stable. It will help recreate and rejig Imo PDP. It will give the members the opportunity to throw away the bad eggs, and bring in new bloods to run the party. The congress will inject new vista into Imo PDP, as the members have gone tired with the old faces running the party at all levels. If the PDP wants to survive in Imo State, after consecutively losing two Governorship elections, it must conduct a transparent congress in August where members will freely chose those to lead the party. Any hanky-panky will spell doom for PDP in the State. The patience of members has been over stretched and anything short of a free and fair congress may elicit a reaction and implosion which the party will find difficult to contain.
Presently, Imo PDP looks rudderless as no single person can claim to be the point man; the over- all accepted Apex Leader. Every “Leader” in the party has his own followers, who only look onto the head of their political Cell. Who is the over- all accepted Leader? Is it Emeka Ihedioha, Hope Uzodinma, Ikedi Ohakim, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Viola Onwuliri, Kema Chikwe etc?
The party is divided to the roots, so who will bell the cat? Only a transparent congress will set Imo PDP in motion for a better tomorrow only if the leaders will not tear themselves apart in the course of producing the next State Executive Council.
Already, each zone is laying claim to the Chairmanship position presently occupied by Chief Nnamdi Anyaehie who hails from Nkwerre LGA in Orlu zone. But Okigwe zone is saying it will produce the next State Chairman because since the inception of PDP in 1999, the zone has never produced a substantive Chairman, accusing Owerri and Orlu zone of dominating the plum seat.
Unfortunately, this is another hurdle waiting for Imo PDP to scale-over.
Before, offices in the party were shared on the outcome of the Governorship elections in the State.
When Orlu produced Udenwa as Governor, Owerri zone filled the State Chairmanship position through Alex Obi and Marcon Nlemigbo, and Okigwe produced the Deputy Governor Engr Ebere Udeagu. That was throughout Udenwa’s tenure from 1999-2007.
But when Ohakim became Governor and Owerri produced the Deputy Governor Dr Ada Okwuonu, Orlu filled the Chairmanship position with Bar Eze Duruiheoma (SAN).
Now, PDP has no Governor in Imo State. So, how would the party chairmanship position be handled now that Okigwe zone has raised this issue of zoning the position to it?
Under this scenario, will Orlu zone relinquish the position, even though the Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is from that zone, but of APC stock?
Does it mean that Aspirants from Owerri zone will not participate in the chairmanship race? These are the salient issues staring Imo PDP in the face. This may be the final opportunity to rescue Imo PDP from its self-induced cesspit, or finally bury itself. The choice is in the hands of the Leaders.
If PDP fails to win the Governorship election in 2019, I doubt if the suffering grass root members will have that patient to continue to wait, while the Leaders always use them to pave their own ways. As time goes on the gullible grass roots get more enlightenment, which opens their eyes to know their rights.
If Imo PDP gets it wrong this time, the angry teeming members will help it bury itself. It happened to APP and this may be the turn for PDP if it bungles this chance.