By Henry Ekpe
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP remains one of the oldest political parties in Nigeria today and easily the largest. Since 1998 the party was formed, it has remained a strong force in Imo State till date.
There are reasons why Imo State remains a strong hold of PDP which includes that some of its prominent sons and daughters were present when PDP was formed from the scratch. They include Late Chief Emeka Echeruo, Late Chief Innocent Nwoga, Late Dr Nnanna Ukaegbu, Chief Charles Ugwu, Hon Oliver Enwerem and Others.
Ever since PDP was birthed, the party has ruled Imo State, either in presence or in proxy.
In 1999, Chief Achike of PDP won the Governorship election. His successor, Dr Ikedi Ohakim left PDP weeks after which he picked the Governorship ticket of Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA in 2007, and was voted into office by majority members of PDP, where he returned after a year on the seat.
In 2011, a former PDP Governorship Aspirant in 1999, Chief Rochas Okorocha moved to All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA, to win the Governorship election. And in 2019, another PDP stalwart, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha won the election, only to be removed from office by the Supreme Court. Yet again, a PDP former Board of Trustee BOT member, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who is presently leading Imo State with a State Executive made up with 95% of former PDP members, became Governor.
Therefore, there is no gain saying that Imo State is PDP whole and entire, but with politicians who pursue their political ambitions through other political platforms, whenever their attempts to make use of the political machine of PDP fails them.
In other words, history has shown that all the Governors that ruled Imo State, or on the saddle now, had their political tutelages under PDP political school.
The pioneer chairman of PDP was Sir Innocent Nwoga, a renowned technocrat and disciplined personality.
Among others who had chaired PDP in Imo State are Nze PC Onuoha, Dr Alex Obi, Chief Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), Chief Marcon Nlemigbo and others.
These are men of tested integrity and impeccable pedigree, who till date have remained unblemished in their various field of endeavours and businesses.
Imo PDP has remained a party of emulation to other political parties, and has remained the political party to beat in all elections in the State since 1999.
After Chief Ikedi Ohakim lost election in 2011, Imo PDP stayed without political power or a Governor for eight years, with its followers intact, as the party rose again to give a sitting Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha the biggest political scare of his life in 2015, as it took a supplementary Governorship election for Okorocha to beat PDP and its Governorship candidate Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha by the whiskers. But till date many people still believe PDP won that elections if not for the intrigues that took place in Oru Nation.
In 2019, against all permutations and every plot to subjugate and wipe out PDP in Imo State by Okorocha, the PDP still came out to defeat his chosen candidate, presumed successor, and son inlaw, Chief Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance AA. The PDP also trounced the candidate of the Ruling Party at the centre, APC, Senator Hope Uzodinma and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume of All Progressive Grand Alliance APGA.
For the records, the 2019 Imo Governorship election was the most contentious, highly contested and tough. Yet PDP that was without a Governor for Eight years, rose from the ashes and defeated all comers, but only took the Supreme Court to retrieve the mandate from the party.
Now, the usual prophets of doom have predicted that Imo PDP will gradually fizzle away, much more with a hostile sitting Government that is bent on demolishing and decimating the party in the State.
Every method has been adopted: Intimidation, Poaching, allegations, accusations, brigandage, Court, Police, DSS at all by the sitting Government to shut out PDP.
It was under this hostile condition that the party went into a State Congress, which was disrupted earlier by the Covid 19 crisis, after the Local Government and Ward Executives had been elected months ago.
From the beginning, many had hoped for an implosive State Congress that would tear the party into shreds to the benefit of those wishing Imo PDP dead.
Plots were made by the opposition elements to infiltrate the party with a sponsored Aspirant who will serve as an agent of destabilization during the exercise.
But that plan was decoded as the Aspirants showed commitment to PDP by shunning outside influences.
To show that PDP remains alive in Imo, not only that more than five Aspirants joined the race for the chairmanship position, but those who showed interest were men of high degree of pedigree that the Elders of the party and Delegates got confused on how to vote.
The “Squad” was made up of both the old and young. It became a tall order for the Leaders to arrive at the best way of electing a new State chairman of the party for the next four years.
Will it be Comrade Emeka Nwokeke or Chief Chucks Ajaelu? Is it Hon Ngozi Ogbu or Chief Charles Ugwu? What of Prof Obioma Iheduru?
Infact, rather than the Congress turn to an exercise of rancor” and disagreement, it brought PDP members out in their droves to interface with each other once more after they lost power on January 14, 2020 through Supreme Court Debacle.
The Delegates arrived at the various points of accreditations with pump and happiness and endured all the vagaries of weather and nature until they arrived the venue for voting, at Kanu Nwankwo Sports Stadium, Owerri.
At the venue there was no pushing, not even single gun shot or harassments as the Delegates queued up peacefully to cast their votes; from one Local Government to other, until the three thousand, one hundred (3,100) Delegates peacefully voted, and waited for the final results.
In the end, Chief Charles Ugwu emerged the chairman, Sir Martin Ejiogu (Deputy), Hon Nze Ray Emeana (Secretary) Nze Law Biaduo (Organizing Secretary) Bar Kissinger Ikeoku (Legal Adviser) Comrade Greg Nwadike (Youth Leader) Bar Josiah Eze (Treasurer) Mrs Maria Mbakwe (Woman Leader), Bar Bede Ojinmadu (Financial Secretary) and Chief Godson Nwaobasi (Auditor).
This exercise brought to an end the search for the replacement for Bar Charles Ezekwem who left PDP for APC after Governor Emeka Ihedioha was removed from office.
Indeed, Ezekwem’s defection to APC certainly affected the choice of the present Imo PDP chairman. Had Ezekwem not left in ignominy, which questioned his age and confidence the PDP hierarchy heaped on him, may be a more younger person would have emerged as Imo PDP State Chairman.
Ezekwem’s anticedents left a bad sour in the mouth of most Imo PDP members, who resolved that the party needs a more mature person and a father figure this time to restore peace in the party.
Ezekwem was given everything: Commissioner’s slot, Okigwe LGA’s Chairmanship slot, and other pecks, crowned with the Chairmanship Seat of Heartland Football club, yet he went public to denigrate PDP and Ihedioha, claiming that he was left empty handed after the party won the Governorship Seat.
With this scenario where a man given all these spoils of war and privileges lamented he got nothing, it therefore became expedient for Imo PDP to look for a self-maded man in all ramifications. And the lot fell on Engr Charles Ugwu.
He is a pioneer member of PDP, who was at the forefront of the party’s formation. So, he has more stake than many in seeing that Imo PDP is back, solid and strong.
Having seen it all: former Governorship candidate in 2007, former Chairman Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, former Minister, and Industrialist of repute and of no mean standard.
A rich man and mature by all standards, only God knows what could be dangled before Ugwu to sale Imo PDP.
Age is not on his side, as raised by some critics, but he remains agile because he takes good care of himself and does not look his age.
Moreover, there are other youthful strong members in the State Executive Council like Sir Martin Ejiogu his Deputy, the hardworking Trojan incharge of the Secretariat, Nze Ray Emeana, and the restless Organizing Secretary, Nze Law Biaduo to run the Engine Room of the party.
This is a perfect combination that will propel Imo PDP to greater heights.
It is now left for other political parties in the State to conduct their own Congresses. They must emulate the PDP, especially the ruling party APC, whose State Chairmanship is still under litigation, with various factions and cells controlled by different Big Men.
Despite all, Imo PDP remains under one umbrella, one chairman and one Apex Leader which are not under contention. It is Down of a new era and Imo PDP has got it right. Bravo! Imo PDP.
By Henry Ekpe