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L-R: Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo (left), National Deputy Chairman, Alhaji Haliru Mohammed Bello welcoming Kalu during the re-alignment at the party's National Secretariat, Abuja, Monday. Photo 2: Some of the other members of the PPA, who returned to PDP with Kalu. Former FCT Minister of State, Odom (right) and Esin. Photos: BAYO OBISESAN

Former Abia State Governor and Chairman of Board of Trustees of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, yesterday made good his intention to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The former PPA presidential candidate came to the party National Secretariat at 1.55pm in company of the National Chairman of the PPA, Chief Larry Esin, Deputy Governor of Abia State, Chief Chris Akomas, former Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Chuka Odom and many national officers of the PPA to declare their intention to return to the PDP.

The former governor left the PDP as sitting governor in 2006 to form the PPA and emerged its presidential candidate for the 2007 election. The party won two states, Abia and Imo after the election in addition to seats in the National Assembly. Speaking at the event, the former Abia governor premised his intention to return to PDP on the assurance he got from the new National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, to restore internal democracy in the party and expressed confidence that Nwodo would keep to his words.

'I want to say that the promise I made to you I am keeping it today, because when you told me that you were going to be back as National Chairman, I said the moment you are National Chairman, I would come back to be with you. Today, I am fulfilling my promise I consider it reasonable and viable for us to come back in a hall which all of us started. Myself, Nwodo and other members of this party started this party in 1998 in Lagos.

The aims and aspirations that were in our minds when we formed this party, we didn't see again and that's why all of us left. I left gallantly and I am coming back gallantly. I left like a General, I was challenged and I said no, I couldn't be de-registered. I didn't leave the party. Myself, Nwodo and most of us, were de-registered and if Nwodo is back in the party today, there was an agreement that all of us, the founders of the party, would gradually come back.'

Kalu expressed the hope that sanity would return to the party with Nwodo in the saddle. 'PDP is going to be another African National Congress (ANC), if Nwodo is going to implement what the founding fathers had visualised, when we were forming this party.

As long as there is internal democracy, which I know that the present executives are capable of doing. The President has promised credible elections and I want to say that if PDP gets its internal democratic process right, then the national election would be credible. There must be discipline in the party. There must be understanding. There must be ethos that made the founding fathers of this party to make it a great party. This party is capable of holding on to power, if we do the right thing. The most important thing is to do the right thing. We are in this party, as long as the party would subject itself to the rules.'

The former governor assured members of the PDP National Working Committee, (NWC) of his readiness to assist the party in its membership drive, while he submitted that he had no reason to feel ashamed over his return to PDP.

'I have no reason to feel ashamed to come back to the family house. We built this party together. The high and the mighty that formed this party started on the floor of my house in Lagos. I have been living in my own house, I am back in the family house. Those we have offended, we plead that they pardon us. Those who offended us, we have forgiven them and that's why I am back.'

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Esin told the leadership of the party that the assurance of a new PDP informed their decision to return to the PDP.

' It is a great day for all of us to be back here today. The new climate in PDP has allowed this to happen. Today, we have a new PDP that is under the leadership of a National Chairman that shares the aspiration of many of us in this country. We are back to this party, because today, we have a common goal. That goal is to cater for the needs of Nigerians that are unable to enjoy the dividends of democracy.'

National Chairman of PDP, Nwodo, expressed delight at Kalu's return to the PDP, along with leading gladiators of PPA.

'Today, we are making history in our march to enthrone democracy in our country. A march that brings us to the frontier of breaking down all human barriers that have impeded our journey to true democracy in Nigeria.

'For our member, who for one reason or the other left the fold of our party, founded a formidable party that fielded presidential candidate, won elections into the National Assembly, either as Senators or members of House of Representatives, won elections to the state House of Assembly and won election to local councils and today, made this historic journey to the PDP, I believe that this is a formidable history in the annals of politics in our country. With PPA closing shop today to come back into PDP, I think it is a great statement that's being made. The statement that's being made as far as I am concerned, is that no matter the injustice that saw them out, be it marginalization, be it electoral manipulation within our party, that people are ready to forgive and forget, as long as justice would come back to the throne,' he said.

Nwodo assured Kalu to keep his own side of the bargain, by restoring internal democracy in the party.

'The promise you made today and the covenant we made today is that we are determined to enthrone true internal democracy in PDP. The days of not doing primary and being nominated as candidates, those things are over and over forever', Nwodo assured Kalu.

National Vice-Chairman of the PDP, South-East, Chief Olisah Metuh, described the former Abia governor as an asset to the party in the South-East, having formed a party that was the biggest headache to PDP's grip on the party in the zone.

'With PPA, we were faced with challenges of acceptance in the South-East. Our biggest problem in the entire South-East has been the PPA. It is because of the grassroot support Kalu enjoys. Today, the wall of Jericho for PDP in the South-East had been pulled down. Orji Kalu is well-loved by my people. I am happy that he is back. I am happy that he will make himself available for PDP to sell the new PDP in the zone. If you join us, we will re-establish our firm control in south east,' the PDP national Vice Chairman, enthused.

Kalu later went into a closed door session with members of the PDP National Working Committee.