For the Imo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the just concluded governorship election had put a knife in the cud that held it together, the centre can no longer hold, reports Peterclaver Egbochue
Like its Lagos State chapter, which has been embroiled in crisis resulting in the sack of its state chairman, Capt. Tunji Shelle, the Imo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not known peace since after the election.
The party lost the governorship contest to the incumbent governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha as well as the State House of Assembly election. Since the loss, its state apparatus appears to be in disarray with some of them speaking from both sides of their mouths and contradicting themselves.
This scenario which has already been adjudged evidence of confusion in the Imo PDP camp, has seen the party’s leaders openly expressing anger and frustration, leaving observers wondering when they will settle down and address their situation more reasonably and responsibly.
At a recent meeting at the home of the deputy Speaker and its governorship candidate, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, was said to have descended heavily on party leaders demanding explanation for the failure of the party in the last election.
Present at the meeting include Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, Hon. Chuma Nnaji, Chief Tony Chukwu, some of the victorious National Assembly candidates and some other party henchmen.
According to reports, Ihedioha, while responding to Chief Iwuanyanwu’s excuses about how the All progressives Congress (APC) and their governorship candidate, Okorocha violently intimidated and manipulated the elections to their advantage, was said to have shouted at him profusely.
He wondered what they were doing when the opponents were violently intimidating them and manipulating the elections.
It may be recalled that at polling unit, ward and local government levels in the state, nearly all Imo PDP leaders, excluding Ihedioha, lost the elections to the APC candidates. Consequently, in addition to APC winning the gubernatorial election, they also won 21 seats at the State House of Assembly, leaving only 6 for PDP.
In fact, the state of the party has worsened with the resumption of Ihedioha at his post as Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives. Since his return to Abuja, the Imo PDP is in a sort of disarray with none of the leaders seen to be able to appear freely in public and speak about the party.”
Before the election, the PDP looked good until gubernatorial aspirants started accusing one another of attempting to hijack the delegate list and even when there were claims that former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, succeeded in doing this with the help of Sen. Hope Uzodinma, the result of the primary election proved otherwise.
For analysts of Imo politics, the outcome of the election simply showed that the PDP did not analyse and understood why it lost Imo State to PPA in 2007, the party on which Ohakim contested and won the election before decamping to PDP later. Similarly, the party did not understand why it lost in 2011 the governorship election to Okorocha.
In 2007, the PDP went into the election a divided house. There was the Abuja group made up of the national assembly members then and there was the Owerri group headed by the then governor, Chief Achike Udenwa. Chief Udenwa found an ally in the then President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume, who won the PDP primaries belonged to the Abuja group but Obasanjo and Udenwa reportedly ensured he was denied the victory by making sure a non PDP member was installed governor of Imo State. The beneficiary of this alleged injustice was Chief Ohakim.
Unfortunately, when he re-contested for the same office on the platform of PDP in 2011, he lost to the present Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
In 2011, Imo PDP was again not united. A former governor and former minister, chief Achike Udenwa, at the federal level under PDP in order to realise his ambition of becoming a senator decamped from the Party on whose platform he became a governor and a minister to another party the ACN. By this time, he had reconciled with Senator Ararume who joined him in ACN.
Although many had no problem with the Senator’s decision to seek a better political fortune elsewhere given the treatment he received from the party but others blamed him on moral issues, given the fact that it was the PDP that made him. This and other in- fighting coupled with the fact that the then Governor Chief Ohakim’s style of leadership distanced him from the electorate thereby costing PDP the governorship.
Watchers of Imo politics argue that the current fate of the PDP was unexpected given the manner it conducted its governorship primaries which produced Ihedioha as its governorship candidate. It is believed that the primary election was manipulated in favour of Ihedioha who at the time was not the most popular candidate.
Speaking on the state of the PDP, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, one of the governorship hopefuls who ditched the party few days to the election to support Okorocha, declared the party dead in the state.
Addressing his horde of supporters in Owerri, Araraume said, “I don’t want to talk about the PDP because for me, the PDP is dead. Our collective efforts have yielded fruit. As I told you, the Governor came to me and pleaded for support to win the election. I told him that for me, I don’t have any problems in accepting his request. My problem has always been about the fate and welfare of those who have been following me all theyears. Some of them want to be commissioners; others want to be chairmen and councillors of Local Government Councils.
“There are those who want to be ministers and those who want to enjoy government patronage in terms of contracts. That has been my problem. I told him that as long as these people are happy, I am fulfilled. I also told him that I will not ask him for a kobo to partner with him. I emphasized that my interest is in the welfare of my followers who have allowed me to enter into this partnership.
“I want to tell you that all over the world, the trend now is on partnerships and collaborations. In the business realm, they call it mergers and acquisitions. In 2003,General Buhari (retd) contested for the presidency and lost. He contested under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He contested in 2007 and failed.
“Again, in 2011, he contested under the platform of the Congress for Peoples Change (CPC). He failed to win in all these outings but in 2015, he collaborated and partnered with the other political parties in what could be described asa political face of mergers and acquisitions and this resulted to a great victory for him and his followers.
“During those years, he made futile efforts to win, some of his followers did not abandon him, even though they were passing through financial challenges. But in 2015, Providence has provided him all those wings he lacked in the past. Some of his followers who did not have food to eat will be among the good millionaires of the future”.
It would be recalled that in the build-up to the governorship election in Imo State, political leaders from Okigwe Senatorial Zone in PDP had demanded that the zone should be allowed to produce the governorship candidate.
The Harmonization Committee, led by Col Almadu Ali, then appeared disposed to considering the appeals by stakeholders and leaders of thought from the area to allow the zone complete her second tenure of four years in order to soothe the frayed nerves and re-unite the party for the general elections.
The intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan according to sources close to Aso Rock Villa, followed an interim intelligence report mounted in Imo State to ascertain the possibility of securing a second tenure of four years for Ex-Governor Ohakim.
The interest of the presidency on Ohakim was said to be predicated on the fact that his candidature would be the only one from Okigwe Zone that could guarantee a single tenure of four years before allowing Owerri Zone before the governorship shifts to Owerri zone which has been nursing the ambition since 1998.
According to the highly confidential intelligence report, the attempt by Ohakim to get back to Douglas House was could not fly as a result of the content of the report. The report contains issues of incompetence, corruption, high handedness and arrogance as going to weigh down any ticket offered to Ohakim irrespective of how attractive the single tenure conundrum could be.
Another content of the report was that Chief Ohakim was indicted by an Imo Government probe panel headed by the former Deputy Governor, Sir Jude Agbaso, a tool Governor Okorocha could easily use to disqualify him from the race. He was accused of embezzling close to N65B.
Ohakim who once berated Araraume for an intimidating long convoy of police patrol vehicles who said the cost of purchasing and fueling those jeeps in the convoy could provide jobs for Imo youths turned out to have maintained a longer convoy once he was sworn-in as Governor and so could not be trusted with power again.
On Araraume, the intelligence report claimed that though he was currently enjoying a high level of political goodwill, and support especially from the business community, the fear in several quarters that he would not let go in 2019 is rife, and a minus to his candidature.
It added that several aspirants would want to leave PDP immediately he emerges the candidate in protest they will be victimized and therefore recommended that a replacement be sourced from Okigwe Zone while Owerri Zone which is currently the greatest beneficiary in the infrastructural transformation embarked upon by the duo of Okorocha and Ihedioha should tarry awhile.
Most members of the party have ditched it for the APC while those staying behind are not confortable with its current state. The question in the lips of many now is who will save Imo PDP from total collapse?