By Henry Ekpe
Since the inception of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Imo State chapter, in 1998, the party has never gone through such contentious challenges facing her presently.
When PDP arrived Imo State, it was the darling of politicians, as the likes of Chief ID Nwoga, Chief Emeka Echeruo, Chief Charles Ugwu, Dr Mrs Kema Chikwe, Late Chief Livy Okereafor etc with the younger ones like Hon Oliver Enwerenem and co moulded the party into a behemoth.
Then, the likes of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Arthur Nzeribe, Chief Evan Enwerem were in All Peoples Party APP, with Chief Ifeanyi Arararume as the pioneer State Chairman.
Indeed, by that time, what was the major task was to scale through PDP primary, and succeed with the ticket. The moment you emerge a PDP candidate in Imo State, your main election is as good as pronounced victorious.
The PDP ruled Imo State, and was the Majority Party in the House of Assembly for many years. The Party cleared the Federal House Seats and Senatorial positions across Imo.
Infact, nearly all the politicians today holding one position or the other, of Imo extraction, got their political tutorials, development and exposure through the PDP.
Today, the Imo State Government led by Senator Hope Uzodinma has 90% Personnel who passed through PDP School. And this includes the Governor, Chief Hope Uzodinma himself.
However, as the 2023 Imo Governorship election which holds on November 11, draws nearer, the Imo PDP still seems to be enmeshed in fresh issues that may create more wedge on the smooth ride of the party’s victory, as it faces a serious uphill task posed by the APC, Labour Party, and others.
For sure, the Imo PDP has remained the main opposition party in Imo since 2011 and the challenge faced by Governor Uzodinma and his party, APC. The PDP was roaring like a Lion, marching the Ruling Party in all ramifications, and presented a good opposition to the Government, which put her on its toes and alert to its duties to Imo electorate.
Suddenly, all that fizzled away as Imo PDP began fighting itself. And this squabble continued until its major contender and feared Governorship Aspirant, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha withdrew from the Governorship race.
It will be a glaringly understatement to say that Ihedioha is a force in Imo PDP and his withdrawal from the Party’s Governorship race has affected the party in Imo State. This is because one of the strong gladiators is missing in the Battle front.
However, since that had happened and Ihedioha is no more in the race, the party ought to have continued from where Ihedioha stopped and moved on by healing old wounds and appeasing the hurt.
Unfortunately, nearly all the State Working Committee members SWC of the party pulled out in unison leaving a big vacuum that must be filled for the party to find its bearing quickly, as the election comes near.
However, the ominous signs coming from various parts of Imo State indicate that Imo PDP has not learnt enough lessons yet from the tragedies bedeviling her in the last few months. The Party needs no other distractions now, or self inflicted injuries.
Except the party threads cautiously now, the last straw that may derail the entire party to the foundation is the issue of replacing members who were officials of the party, but defected to the ruling APC.
Rightly, the Party has a Governorship candidate, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (SamDaddy) who the Imo PDP’s life or death case now rests on his shoulder.
Today, Anyanwu, who hoists the Party’s ticket should endeavour to apply the strategy that will bring all the members together, by exhibiting a father figure, for the sake of the party and the success of his Governorship project.
The National Secretary of the party, Senator Anyanwu is aware that the PDP has rules and guidelines that are followed to the letter in replacing these vaccums for peace to reign within the party, and as well give every member a sense of belonging to march on as one Body.
Anything that will cause further crisis in Imo PDP must be avoided because the colletral damage at this critical period would be enormous, and difficult to quench as the Governorship election approaches.
In replacing these defected officers, the party must adhere strictly to the zoning formula as enshrined in PDP constitution.
Certainly, nobody should deny the Governorship candidate the opportunity to exercise some measures that would help him execute his project successfully. But due process must be followed in order not to throw up more problems.
It is the prerogative power of the candidate to set up his campaign council, by choosing those dear to him he would want to pilot his campaign machine. He cannot leave his enemies to direct his campaign organ. But party must live and run to support the candidate as a different entity.
As the PDP replaces these defected officers, some certain areas produced the outgone officers, and the PDP constitution says that the replacements must come from the same zone until they serve out their tenure.
The beauty of politics is Lobbying, which is the ingredients that run the engine room of politics. There must be qualified personnel from these Zones. Therefore, with Lobbying the preferred persons can still emerge with contributions from the candidate. Not with imposition and impunity. That will raise more dusts.
If Imo PDP mismanages this developing matter, the damage will be humongous, except the party is not ready for the November 11, Imo Governorship election.
It is quite unfortunate that many of the crevices on the wall of the party are rather widening than closing.
Instead of the Party being busy with reconciliation moves, further cases are about reopening with the issue of replacing defected officers.
The APC has been busy poaching top PDP stalwarts, cornering their best Media Brains, and invading the grassroots for PDP members.
The APC is doing all these even as the party in power, meaning that it realizes that the November 11 election will be dicey.
As the main opposition Party, the PDP should do more, by opening her hands and welcoming more members, by engaging in acts that would create peace, togetherness and team spirit. All divisive attitudes must be abandoned now, while those that will enthrone peace should be adopted.
The PDP Governorship candidate has been blackmailed severally with allegations of “just occupying space” . He therefore must not give enemies and opponents the leeway to justify their red herrings.
Those around the candidate should advise him right, and remove their own selfish interests, as the outcome of the November election should be the focus point and a collective battle.
I believe, Imo PDP is not running the election for the sake of running, but to win. And the party has the potentials to achieve that, but it must sincerely speak to itself and reinvent itself because the battle ahead is not cheap and requires all hands on deck.
Whoever is underrating Imo PDP, because some of those seen as the “Big Men” have left the party, are doing that at their own peril.
Imo PDP still habours huge members across the State, but it depends, how quickly and effectively these materials are harnessed.
Every day, news of Groups endorsing Uzodinma across the State rent the air, no matter how banal of fictitious they are.
And if the major opposition Party PDP is busy dueling over a simple matter as replacing defected officers, even when the PDP constitution states out the modalities, then there is problem.
Imo PDP should rally round and work harder, because Imo people still have sympathy for the Party they ever knew from the beginning.