There is no doubt that despite the obvious challenges of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State the people still hold so much expectations for the party. The PDP has not been able to hold itself together since they lost the 2015 presidential election, though political analysts say such condition is common with ruling parties that lost elections.
But the PDP problems seem to have been compounded with its internal crisis leading to sharp divisions among the leadership, so much that the masses who depend on the party for credible opposition seem to be confused with the goings on in the party.
But hope seems to have breathed on the people of Imo State as the Makarfi group of the party led by Barr Charles Ezekwem took the state in what might be considered a shocking move when on Sunday 23 April 2017 it held its stakeholders meeting at the home of Representative Ezenwa Onyewuchi.
The meeting which was planned for about 4,500 people, for only the LGA and ward executives of the party, ended up being a rally of some sort as the premises of Hon Onyewuchi was filed to the brim with countless party faithful pouring into the street for lack of space. Following the shockingly impressive turnout of people at the event the organizers were left with no other option than to order 2,700 more seats, yet people could not be accommodated in the compound and still had to hang outside. This is not withstanding the patience with which the people listend, even no money was shared.
Among the dignitaries present at the PDP “rally” were Chief Barr Charles Ezekwem, Prof Jude Ejiogu, Hon Nnaemeka Maduagwu, Chief Joe Ikunna, Hon Ray Emeana, Lady (Mrs.) Maria Mbakwe, Hon Ichie Ken Agbaegbu, Sir Ambrose Ejiogu, Dr. Douglas Acholonu, Nze Osita Nwaneri, Chief Benji Azike, Chief Vitalis Ogueri, Chief Barr Mike Ahamba SAN, Dr. Kema Chikwe, Hon Jerry Alagbaoso, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Chief Ebere Udeagu, Chief Achike Udenwa, Chief Dr Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Chief ThankGod Ezeani, among others.
As factionalized as the PDP is in Imo State, it was reassuring for many to hear from the Chairman of the Party, Chief Barr Charles Ezekwem, who said that the meeting was that of the Imo PDP and that the crowd he saw reminded him that he had a responsibility. “When I saw this crowd I realized I have a huge responsibility on my shoulders”, he said, adding that many people had left the party because they felt bad at the outcome of the Court of Appeal on the lingering leadership crisis rocking the party at the national level.
“We will continue to do more. We have been working and we will continue to do more. The PDP is a strong opposition in Imo State and we will continue to do our best to hold the government to account. This Okorocha government is not doing well. We will do all we can to make sure we go back to the state government house in 2019”, he assured.
Reassuring the members of the party that he had not abandoned the party as speculated in the media, Hon Jerry Alagbaoso who represents Oru East/Orlu/Orsu in the Federal House of Reps said that “this rally was jointly funded by all the members of the House of Representatives from Imo State under the PDP and we asked that the venue be at Hon Onyewuchi’s house. And we thank God we have such huge space here.”
Speaking on the leadership tussle in PDP Orlu Zone between Senator Hope Uzodimma and Chief Achike Udenwa, he said: “We have one leader in Orlu and he is His Excellency Chief Dr. Achike Udenwa. He is capable of resolving our problems. When we have problems we take them to him and whatever he says we take it like that. Nobody is contesting that.”
He added: “There are some people who claim to be in the PDP but they end up being with another party. We don’t have any other party other than the PDP. Onwa is the only leader we have and we will rally round him”.
But Chief Iwuanyanwu almost moved the party members to tears when he took time to narrate for the first time the genesis of the leadership crisis currently rocking the PDP. He said: “You know it is my duty to bring you up to date on the leadership crisis rocking the PDP at the national level. You know I will not lie to you. I will only tell you the true position of things in the party.
“After we lost the 2015 general election, someone was chose someone to be the Chairman of the party when Muazu left. Some of us opposed it because we knew he was not a member of the party. Today I have been vindicated.
“We opposed Sherif because he was new to the party and had not fulfilled the period of probation in the party before he could occupy such position. The BoT opposed him, but we later agreed he would stay for three months. We did not know he had in mind to run for the presidency in 2019. This man’s behavior is the cause of the turmoil in the party now. He was to stay for three months but he had started making contacts for running for the presidency and had got someone to run with him as Vice President. Everything we have done was legal and in line with the constitution. It was an error to bring Sheriff to the party. He is not qualified to lead the party.”
But what could be the icing on the cake was delivered by the former Governor of Imo State, Chief Dr. Achike Udenwa, when he issued an order that the leadership of the party at the ward level should go home and get more people into the party. He assured that the battle ahead required more people as few people could not achieve such feat.
“When I see the quality of people here it means we are doing very well. At this stage what is more important to us is mobilization. The fight in Imo State will not be easy. It requires many hands. The greatest mobilizers I know are women and they are the ones that will help us to mobilize. The fight for 2019 is not to try our luck. We are going to win the gubernatorial election and others.
“We have been assured by Iwuanyanwu that we will win the appeal at the Supreme Court, but if that does not work, we are making alternative plan. We pray it (the Supreme Court case) does not go that way, but we are together and anything that happens we will move together.”
Udenwa’s statement of alternative plan B on Sunday was the second time the issue of alternative plan by the Makarfi faction in Imo State was made open. The first time was when Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioiha let the cat out of the bag and shocked many with the news of the Plan B. But my worry is that the Plan B does not portend good omen for the entire PDP family in Imo State.
If anyone in the PDP family should rejoice at the news that Makarfi faction has a Plan B to press the exit button, then I should wonder what could make him sober. Of course, the Imo State PDP should never show anyone that it has short memory and therefore cannot recall recent history. Just in 2015 after the governorship primary election of the party, some top members of the party decamped and joined or worked for the ruling opposition party in the state, and that contributed greatly to the emergence of Governor Okorocha for a second term. I recall that Senator Ifeanyi Araraume led the pack of those who left the PDP, and things fell apart. I recall too that Chief Chukwueke left too. Chief Charles Amadi of OZOPOLF fame also ditched the PDP and joined the Governor. The list is endless.
Rewind to 2010/2011 when Chief Achike Udenwa led the pack of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, Dr. Charles C. Ubah, Dr. Alex Obi, Senator Chris Anyanwu and others and joined the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Things did not remain the same for Imo PDP because the equation changed. It was worse to that many of those who remained in the party did not work for the party but for the Rescue Mission Campaign. The outcome was that the Udenwa group did not win the election but the PDP did not win either. And that is what has brought the party to its sorry passé in the state.
From the political experiences in the PDP as re-enacted briefly above, it is only in the realm of imagination that one could attempt to fathom the consequences of the mass move anticipated, or planned, by the Makarfi PDP in Imo State. I do not doubt that whatever party becomes the beneficiary of the Plan B by the Makarfi group would make an impact, even if they did not win the elections; but worse still, they could rock the boat for the PDP. This is a dilemma and the PDP should put its thinking cap do and do something fast. I don’t know what it is they are going to do, but it is something, and they should do it with some sense of urgency.
My thinking is that it could be suicidal for any group to play with a committed group of people, no matter how small, let alone a group that was able to muster the kind of crowd that moved the Chairman, Ezekwem, to confess he had a responsibility. If anyone thinks that the Makarfi faction in Imo State should go to hell, the person should rather sit down and take cool breathe and ask himself some salient question, whether the PDP has the capacity to withstand the shock and the attendant consequences, even if it happens that Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha or anyone of their choosing for the governorship election, did not win. What I see is an evil wind that would blow no one any good. The only good is that after the 2019 governorship election the losers on both sides of the PDP would begin to regret and make useless confessions and form new alliances. It has happened before and could happen again.
Those who thought for one reason or the other that they were fighting Ikedi Ohakim in 2010/2011 have woken up to the reality that they are the worst losers, because all their labours at installing the Okorocha government has been in vain and they have been forced back to hardship and pain and opposition for 8 rough years, while the man they connived to remove has been smiling and re-strategizing.
I want to re-echo the sentiment of Dr. Kema Chikwe, that destroying the PDP means destroying Nigeria; and that of Hon Ezzenwa Onyewuchi who said: “Some people say that the PDP is a sleeping lion, but today I tell you that the PDP is a roaring lion”. Then I want to warn that the leadership and members of the party should not render the “roaring lion” to “a tale told by an idiot, full of fury, signifying nothing”.