By NBF News

No issue has generated the type of interest and controversy in recent times like the battle for the chairmanship of the much touted largest political party in Africa, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It got to a point where some people started asking if Nigeria in practice was not a one party state, for such importance to be attached to that office.

No matter how one looks at it, the occupant of that position is important considering the fact that in the last 11 years of our present Republic, the PDP has remained in power, producing the president and majority of other elected and non elected officials across the country. In effect the party determines the pace, quality and colour of policies and the direction the country goes, hence the attention the helmsman attracts.

Since the exit of Prince Ogbulafor, it has been bedlam, as competing interests and personalities have been jostling for the coveted position. As the contest raged, the more confusing the picture became. However, today the picture is clearer and it looks like the former Governor of Enugu State, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo will become the next Chairman of the PDP.

Unfortunately before Nigerians finished saying Alleluia that for the first time in recent times, a PDP contest ended without elongated acrimony, the hired spoilers are on the loose. Their single agenda is to drag the party in the mud and malign an innocent man whose only crime is that his fellow party men adjudged him the best candidate to lead the party at this historic time that the PDP yearns for renewal and reawakening.

Only a stranger in Nigeria will feign ignorance of the erosion of values, brigandage, lawlessness and disregard for the party constitution that has become a tradition of the PDP in the last few years. Many prominent members whose call for the democratization of the party was ignored and their lives made unbearable had no choice but to leave the PDP.

It is no secret for those who are receptive to straight talk, that the PDP had burnt her bridges and goodwill and needs to reconnect with disgruntled members and the people of Nigeria.

Even in his missteps Ogbulafor realized the need to reach out to these discontented members and constituted the Alex Ekwueme Peace and Reconciliation Committee which Nwodo and others took advantage of and returned to the party they sacrificed so much to found and build. Since it was revealed that Nwodo may succeed Ogbulafor as the new PDP Chairman, isolated sponsored write ups and protests have surfaced, churning out spurious allegations that hold no water and has started sounding like cracked records.

The truth is that they found no serious dirt to throw but to satisfy their pay masters, they had to dig up something even if it lacked substance. While some say he was indicted in the National I.D. Card scam, others claim he had not spent a specified period of time since his return to the PDP. The Enugu State Chapter of the PDP has already clarified the issue of eligibility and waiver in a letter it sent to the National Vice Chairman South East of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metu dated 16th April, 2009.

In the said letter signed by Chief Vita Abba, Chairman PDP Enugu State Chapter, the PDP leadership was informed of the waiver granted Chief Nwodo by no less a person than the former Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, in line with the recommendations of the Ekwueme Committee. Besides, if other highly placed individuals like Governor Ikedi Ohakim who left the PDP can be welcomed back to the PDP and after six months of returning is allowed to lead the party in his state, denying Nwodo the Chairmanship on the account that he left the party at a certain time would be selective injustice.

On the issue of the National I.D. Card scam, it is laughable that indictment and prosecution now translates to a guilty verdict. For the records it is important to point out that a court of competent jurisdiction after six years discharged the case and no one or agency up till today appealed the courts decision or restarted the prosecution. More importantly it is the belief of many Nigerians that the so called indictment and prosecution was politically motivated and those behind it knew from the out set that it was not going to stand.

Indeed what should be paramount in the minds of true and patriotic PDP members is the competence of the individual that will lead the party at this auspicious time when the PDP needs to refocus and recharge for the challenges of the future. There is no doubt that for sometime now the party has been denied an effervescent and focused leadership that is determined to serve the party and not personal interests.

What PDP needs today is a team player who will complement the transparency, enthusiasm and zeal President Goodluck Jonathan has shown in his effort to take Nigeria to greater heights. The Party needs a man with experience and fulfillment who will provide selfless service and not sell his conscience for a pot of pottage, someone with a plan and a purpose, someone with a mind of his own who will stand for the rule of law and what is fair, right and just no matter who is involved, a patriot who will not be different things to different people -a bridge builder.

This exalted position needs a man with pedigree who will not be intimidated by the office or influenced by the appurtenances or perquisites of his position. It needs a detribalized mature mind, with the sagacity and dynamism to manage the multiplicity of human resources and ideas required to turn around the PDP and reposition it for today's globalized world where there is a standard rule of behavior even for political parties. It is the sincere belief of many political pundits and majority of party members that Okwesilieze Nwodo fits into this position - a square peg in a square hole.

A scion of the distinguished Nwodo family and a successful medical doctor with specialization in pediatric surgery, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo was a one time Governor of Enugu State and a foundation member and first National Secretary of the PDP. It is on record that the PDP primaries of 1999 which took place under his watch remains the most democratic till date.

•Obiora Ilo wrote from Enugu