By Henry Ekpe
The Head office of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Imo State chapter, located at Okigwe Road, Owerri, has turned to a beehive of activities as Aspirants obtain and submit forms for the various elective positions.
This is in preparation for the general elections which comes next year, to culminate with the swearing in of a new President on May, 2023.
Therefore, it is very necessary to advise the Imo PDP hierarchy to be wary as the success of Imo PDP depends on the present exercise that has consumed the party officials and Aspirants respectively.
The success of every election begins with a seamless process of choosing the best candidates that represent parties in the main election.
In other words, it is pertinent to note that election is a process which begins with internal democracy within the political party, commencing with party primaries that produces the candidates for the parties.
Therefore, how prepared and committed is the PDP to give Imo State the best of candidates that will carry the party’s flags in the House of Assembly, House of Representatives, and Senate?
For now, Imo State is not saddled with the contentious issue of Governorship, as that will come later next year.
The reason is that Imo Governorship election calendar has been distorted because the current Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma emerged through the Court on January 14, 2020, pushing Imo Governorship election further than the original May 29th swearing in date.
However, the survival or not of Imo PDP as the elections approach lies in the hands of the Chief Charles Ugwu led State Working Committee SWC.
The future of Imo PDP would be determined by the outcome of the various primaries. It is therefore a litmus test that must be handled cautiously to avoid Banana Peels that may stumble the peace witnessed in the party now.
The results of the primaries will make or mar Imo PDP, depending how the State Executive of the party, and those to be sent by the National Office in Abuja handle the primaries.
First of all, the party must make sure that all Aspirants are given a level playing ground to exhibit their rights as party members, protected by the transparency that will exist in the day of the primaries.
The post primary election squabbles usually disorganize parties, when what should occupy every body’s mind should be the major election ahead.
Therefore, in an outcome of a transparent primary, the loser would have no option than to go home and lick his wounds, with they believe that he/she did his best, and then after quickly support the party for the election proper.
The Ngor Okpala by-election primary should be a template for the party, as that exercise was a model, and led to the peace that existed in Ngor Okpala PDP, before, during and after the election.
Certainly, every politician must have personal interest, but those charged to handle Imo PDP primaries must endeavour to bury their individual preferences for the general good of the party.
However, there are peculiarities in every Ward, Local Government, Federal Constituency and Senatorial Zones.
The party must study those challenges, and treat them according to the various areas, in order to arrive at a decision that will favour the majority, and help sustain PDP success.
There are areas that base their positions on zoning. But PDP must also realize that circumstances may warrant otherwise, which would be for the good of the party.
This is because, in some circumstances name and face win elections. While in some places money does not count, other places it does, and in some other areas as what matters is the candidate rooted for by the electorate.
In such situation, the party must use its wisdom to handle such issues for all involved to arrive at a compromise after wide consultations and agreements.
PDP must also take note of the fact that as an opposition party, winning should be the major thrust of planning, even though some decisions may hurt some vested interests and individuals in the pursuance of this goals.
This is where Chief Charles Ugwu, a pioneer member of PDP, who has remained in the party since its birth in 1998, must apply mastery in diplomacy, crisis, resolution and experience, which was one of the reasons he was call up to manage the party.
It is hard, though to believe, that PDP has been an opposition party in Imo State since 2011. Yet the party remains ever dominant in Imo politics.
The party still live boisterously, with new members trooping into the party every day.
Activities taking place in Imo PDP offices across the State, from the Wards, cannot be compared to that of the ruling APC, whose offices are closed every day, except for occasional “Stakeholders Meetings” in Government House, Owerri.
Therefore, the general identification with PDP by the Imo masses is an indication that the electorate root for PDP in Imo State. But the party must not bungle the opportunity.
The dexterity, commitment, perverance and support of the teeming members of PDP party across Imo State have sustained the party these years, even as they shun APC carrots.
Imo PDP members have shown consistency in followership, obedience to the party, fondness and stout resistance to overtures by other political parties.
However, it is now left for the Leadership of the party to maximize this good will of the devoted members for a 2023 electoral success that will “chase the Bald Heads out of Town”.
Across Imo State today, the seven months magic of PDP in office is ever green, and seen everywhere, represented by the abandoned projects the party started in the various Local Government Headquarters that APC does not know how to handle.
Imo electorate every day remember PDP with the now dilapidate rural roads that were attracting attention through RAMP, but are today history.
What of our Local Governments that became engine rooms of development in seven months, with LGA chairmen executing gigantic projects that before seemed like “Rocket Science”.
How far is the Imo Economy today compared to when it was described as the fastest growing in Nigeria during the PDP days?
How many of our children are employed today, at least through Government appointments that trickled down to the Wards when PDP was in power?
Therefore, Imo masses are waiting for PDP, but elections are not won with emotions.
What happened in Ngor Okpala bye-election where electoral exercise became a total war should serve as a warning signal to Imo PDP. You may win election, but can only be valid if protected to the “Announcement Desk”.
And again, Imo PDP is welcoming heavy weights arriving from other parties, with fame, deep pockets and razzmatazz.
It is a good omen, and busting the population of the party with more members to the seams.
However, this latest success and boost in the party must be handled with every sense of wisdom. As the party welcomes new members, it also must put into account the contribution of old members so that both the new and old would enjoy the party with respect.
Imo PDP is always accused of lacking a reward system, which was reason given by some of those who left the party in the past.
Therefore, the party must avoid such a repeat, and bring everybody together.
In the coming season, I pity Chief Ugwu and his Executive, as their strengths would be stretched to elasticity with both political and administrative challenges.
Indeed, that was reason they were elected. And records show that the Imo PDP Executive has men with tested records.
The Deputy Chairman, Chief Martin Ejiogu. I met him first when he ran for Isu LGA Chairmanship seat about twenty years ago. He is an astute politician with a liberal mind and has remained in the party till date.
The Secretary, Hon Nze Ray Emeana was a former member of Imo House of Assembly, and Ex-Lecturer. He has manned that office jealousy with productivity.
The Organizing Secretary, Nze Law Biaduo showed what he can offer with the most transparent primaries ever conducted by the party in Ngor Okpala a few months ago.
To whom much is given much is expected.
Imo PDP is certainly poised to rebound back to reckoning, even as APC’s fumbling is added advantage.
The success or failure of Imo PDP is in the hands of the State Working Committee. Chief Charles should remember this. And I don’t think the urbane and hard working industrialist cum politician will fail.