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THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF PDP IN ENUGU

THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF PDP IN ENUGU

Ahead of 2015 general elections the crisis rocking the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) whenever a general election is approaching has gradually reared its ugly head in Enugu State chapter of the party.

The impeachment of the former Deputy Governor of Enugu state Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi by the state House of Assembly has ignited a fresh round of crisis in the party.

Former National Auditor of the  party Mr. Ray Nnaji has described recent developments in Enugu sate chapter of the party as unfortunate, saying the ongoing impeachment proceeding against Sunday Onyebuchi was not discussed by the party.

Nnaji warned that the impeachment plot which he alleged was planned by certain persons in the leadership of the party in the state could boomerang if it succeeds as it is capable of creating crisis that would work against the interest of the party in the coming elections.

He accused the Engr. Vita Abba  led state PDP executive of allowing itself to be used to  destabilize the party by “becoming a  rubber stamp in the hands of Governor Sullivan Chime,” adding that he would return to court to reopen the pending case over who is the authentic chairman of the party in the state.

Nnaji, who is a legal practitioner and PDP chieftain, told Journalists in Enugu that rather than submit to the tenets of the party, certain officials who were not part of the formation had carried on as if they were above the party.

Nnaji, who recalled how he emerged the state chairman of the party after its congress in 2008, and how the faction loyal to Chime conducted a parallel congress where Abba emerged and the suit he filed over the development, vowed to reopen the matter to ease out the incumbent leadership which, he said, was part of the problems of the party.

He said: “I had to concede my position as PDP chairman to Vita Abba on certain conditions which have not been met and I am now going back to reclaim  that position so that the correct thing can be done.  We have to correct terrible things happening in our party.  These are people, who do not know when this party was formed, who did not contribute to the party and now want to destroy the party; we will not allow them to do so.

“What is happening to Sunday Onyebuchi is not good for this party; we should not allow certain things happening now to have negative effect on the party on the forthcoming elections.  The peace we have in the party is the peace of the grave yard and it will explode any moment from now.”

He further noted; “The problem is that PDP has been turned into a one man’s affair who decides what to do at his own time.  The state executive has become the rubber stamp of the government.  A party where a deputy governor is being impeached and was never discussed by the party before you started the process.  If the ongoing process succeeds,  it is  going to give room for a  lot of  problems and misgivings, bitterness and rancor and by the time we allow it to get to that level it will be difficult  to handle.  Party members are no longer talking and even when  you come to meeting, it will look like rubber stamp agenda.  This is not the type of politics we expect in the party, we have served at the highest echelon of the party and parties are not run that way, that is why we have to speak out.  We have to sacrifice to ensure we liberate this party from the hands of people who are determined to destroy it pretending to be promoting the tenets of the party.”

Stating that Abba was not the rightful Chairman of the party in the state, Nnaji stressed that he conceded the position to him at the instance of Governor Chime, adding that the agreement they had that led to it had not been met till date. “I am now questioning his legitimacy as the chairman because he is not doing what he supposed to do.  The party is supreme and even the governor is supposed to respect the tenets of the party but vita is a rubber stamp and not doing anything.  The suit is still alive and I am going to reopen it to tell him that he is not the legitimate chairman of the party; he is not helping matters and has become part and parcel of the problem. Let the right person for the position go in,” he said.

But the Enugu State |(PDP) led by Abba has dismissed as untrue and misleading the statement made by Ray Nnaji, that he conceded his position as state chairman to vita Abba on certain conditions which were not fulfilled by Governor Chime.

In his reaction, the state chapter of the party, who spoke through its publicity secretary, Dr. Okey Eze, said the comment published in some National Dailies was aimed at misleading the public and “paint the leadership of the party in a bad light as a means of registering his alleged grievances.”

The party said that there was no crisis in the state chapter as it had established a new order of peace and stability in the state.

The party said” “In the state publications, Nnaji among other false and baseless issues alleged that he conceded his position as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Enugu State in 2008 to Engr. Vita Abba “on certain conditions.”

Ordinarily, the state leadership of the party would have wished not to descend so low to join issues with the character in question, knowing full well his antecedence and style of politicking, but since he has raised some fundamental issues that could mislead the public and tarnish the image of the party, the need to react become imperative.

“The party therefore wishes to sate categorically that the allegations made by the  former National Auditor of the Party are  false, unfounded, baseless, laughable  and  smacks of a ground design by those who are uncomfortable with  the steady progress being made by the party and its Government in Enugu State.

“It is therefore spurious for Nnaji to allege that he emerged the Chariman of the party after its state congress in 2008 and conceded his position to  Engr. Abba, when in the first instance he (Nnaji) was never elected as the chairman of the Party in the party’s state congress organized in 2008.  What is even more laughable is the fact that the tenure of the state Chairmanship position which he fruitlessly canvassed in court in 2008 and which he is now threatening to reopen in court has long expired as at February 27, 2012, consequent upon which a fresh state congress was organized in March 17, 2012 and elected a new set of state Executive of the party under the leadership of Engr. Vita Abba.

“The allegation that the state Executive of the party is a mere rubber stamp to the state Government is also baseless and unfounded.   The state Leadership of our party since its inception has lived up to its responsibilities without any interference by the state Government.  We have established a new order to peace and stability in the party till date.  The party will not be deterred by such deliberate and mischievous ploy to undermine its integrity by such self-seeking individual.  We therefore   call the entire public to disregard the false impression being created in the said publications.”

Reacting to the party’s claim that he was never elected chairman of the party in the state, Mr. Nnaji said that the matter was now before the court, adding that if they claim he was not elected chairman of the party, “how come Governor Sullivan Chime begged me to allow Engr. Abba to lead the party and why did they go to Appeal Court to challenge earlier ruling of the court that authenticated my chairmanship.”

However, it is no longer news that the self acclaimed largest political party in Africa is not new to crisis both at the national and state levels of the party.  Since the formation of the party in 1998, there has never been any general elections that passed in Nigeria without the party experiencing a very serious crisis prior to its congress and national convention.

It could be recalled that without the prompt intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife the party would have lost Enugu state to the opposition in 2011.

The wife of Nigeria’s President, Dame Patience Jonathan, waded into the crisis rocking the Enugu state chapter of the PDP to stop the party from losing the state in 2011 general election.

Following the seriousness of the crisis the First Lady, after meeting with all the parties involved at the Presidential Villa, and favoured the conduct of a   fresh congress in the state, to ensure that the party goes into elections with one house.

Those who attended the closed door meeting were Mrs. Jonathan, the National Chariman of the Party Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Enugu State Governor Sullivan Chime and his wife, Clara.

The First Lady reportedly asked Nwodo to say what he wanted in Enugu and promised to make sure that the Governor met his demands.

The PDP National Chairman replied that he had no interest but only to make sure that PDP members decide the people to represent them in the party and political offices.

Nwodo further told the President’s wife that he could not address the issues in Enugu PDP properly without the stakeholders who own the party and suggested that she grants audience to them.

President’s wife also heard from Chime and his wife, who instead said that there was a plot by supporters of Nwodo to hijack the party and deny the Governor nomination for a second term.

The First Lady granted audience to delegation of selected 21 stakeholders, to hear from them, having heard from the National Chairman, Chime and his wife.

The stakeholders who have among them, former ministers and senators, insisted that only fresh congress could bring peace to the PDP in Enugu and the First Lady reportedly told them that if a fresh congress was the solution, then they should go ahead with it.

The PDP National Working Committee (NWC) has since set up a panel to conduct the congresses but the exercise was stalled by an ex-parte order, obtained by the Governor’s faction of the party led by Vita Abba.

Consequently, the intervention of the President’s wife sparked of a fresh controversy in the state, with both camps trading words over the aftermath of the visit to the Presidential Villa.

Former Chairman, Ray Nnaji who has re-aligned with Chime’s camp, said all elective positions in the forthcoming primaries in Enugu state as the only option upon which they would stop their battle against the Abba executive Committee of the party in the state and embrace peace.

But Reuben Ochi, who succeeded Nnaji as factional Chairman, dismissed the claim of his former principal, saying that Chime’s wife, Clara was the person that took the matter to Mrs. Jonathan and not the national chairman.

He stated that Governor’s wife went to her senior in Aso Rock weeping and begging her to intervene in the crisis in Enugu PDP.   “Mrs Jonathan in her usual sympathetic manner promised to intervene in the matter, and invited the National chairman, Chime and his wife.  She asked Mrs. Chime to repeat what she told her and the Lady said the same thing.  Nwodo now said that it was not what he could discuss without the stakeholders and Patience Jonathan invited them,” Ochi said.

Ochi also made it clear that Nwodo does not lead his faction or any other faction of PDP in Enugu, but has only insisted that the era of governors imposing people on the party was gone and that internal democracy must thrive in the party.

He further noted that if Nwodo really wants to hijack party structure in Enugu as claimed by the Chime faction, then he has to do the same in Anambra, in Abia, and all the 36 states  and in Abuja.

However, observers are of the view that Nnaji’s plan to factionalize the party ahead of 2015 general elections should not be overlooked as he may not be alone in the game.  Even before now it has been established in several quarters that in  Enugu East Senatorial district the likes of Former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani who was reported to have returned to PDP and the Former Minister of Information, Chief Frank Nweke and Senator Gil Nnaji are contesting against Governor Chime’s Chief of staff and preferred candidate Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo.

Analysts are of the view that another interesting contest is the battle  for who will represent Enugu South Senatorial District at the Senate between the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Governor Chime.

Nnaji, a close ally and friend of Nnamani is said to be working for the duo of Nnamanii and Ekweremadu who are seriously regrouping to factionalize the party in the state.

AMEN Super News gathered that the relationship between Chime and Ekweremadu worsened since the former hurriedly got the  state caucus of the party to endorse the zoning of governorship to Nsukka, to make the latter ineligible to contest in 2015.  But coincidentally Ekweremadu was in attendance at the said meeting held in Enugu Government House and he had reportedly voiced out his displeasure with the governor’s style, especially his predisposition to acting on gossips.

It could be recalled that Ekweremadu’s governorship posters had earlier been seen in some parts of the state, though he denied nursing such an ambition.

Chime is said to have stirred up the hornet’s  nest when he announced in a  meeting that he would not allow long serving members of the National Assembly retaining their seats in 2015.

The governor was quoted as saying that “Enugu being a  poverty stricken state, membership of the National Assembly should be seen as poverty alleviation programme.” He insisted at the meeting that those who have served as federal lawmarkers for two terms (eight years) or more must have had their hearts beating for them and should therefore give way and look towards other things, so that new people would go and have a  share of the pie.

Chime, however, did not foreclose the opportunity of the affected lawmakers holding other political offices outside the senate and the House of Representatives. Ten out of the eleven National Assembly members from the sate were said to be at the meeting when Chime made his position known to them.

The members of the National Assembly affected were said to have resolved not to allow the governor have his way.

The deputy senate president and other affected National Assembly members are reportedly not relaxing. Meanwhile Ekweremadu’s camp, on Friday told Abba to resign his position.

But in a swift reaction, the party chairman in a statement, said the call for his resignation was an attempt by a few people from Enugu west in the PDP, to cause distraction and  foster their selfish agenda in the opposition political party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), adding that it was not only baseless but also laughable.

Abba said that as a democrat, he had been running the affairs of the party since 2008 in line with the PDP constitution without any fear, favour or bias, and “cannot, under any circumstance, deviate from this noble responsibility entrusted on me by our party members.”

Addressing a press conference in Enugu, on behalf of Ekweremadu’s camp, chairman of Enugu Peoples Forum, Hon Paul Anikwe, decried political high handedness in the state including the harassment and intimidation of party functionaries, town unions, stakeholders, traditional rulers and civil society over the ambition of Governor Chime and his candidates.

Anikwe who was former chief whip of Enugu State House of Assembly, also drew attention to the harassment and illegal efforts to remove the Chairman of PDP in Udi Local Government Area by some state government functionaries with the blessing of the state chairman for his refusal to pander to their undemocratic interests.

He said four royal fathers, who joined their subject under the auspices of Ezeagu Local Government stakeholders and leaders of thought on an appreciation visit to Ekweremadu over the numerous development projects attracted to their communities, are on the verge of losing their stool.

Anikwe condemned attempts by some state government officials and the state PDP chairman to rairoad various government functionaries and party executives into hasty endorsement of the governor  and his preferred candidates for elective  political positrons in the forthcoming 2015 elections.

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