Enugu PDP: Caught in its own web; INEC: 'Time is of essence'
The on going factional fights in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Enugu State has really given out the party as one that will never go by the rules and whose culture of impunity appears ingrained with the practising elements of the 'largest Party in Africa.'
Since the start of the primaries or the preparations for them, it has been claims, counter-claims and posturing of personalities, factions and miniature groups.
It also goes to show the organisational paucity of the Sullivan Chime group, which, though, tries to claim perfection and refinement, has tended to have ingrained the style of deception, oscillation and brutality: Deception in his now celebrated game in saying something and meaning another; oscillation in back and forth gestures and brutality in the use of his chief security officer, CSO, to brutalise opponents.
Prior to the emergence of the Okwesilieze Nwodo faction, Chime's group, which is also the government group, had been locked in an endless fight with a faction, then, led by Ray Nnaji, a rather loquacious and vacillating lawyer. In the build up to the 2008 convention of the party, Nnaji's group held its congress at a run-down hotel named MacDavos and presented the list of national delegates to the convention. That list was accepted and applied. On the other hand, the government side held its congress at the imperial structure of the equally run-down Hotel Presidential, but its list never made the compilation of the national delegates list.
That was how the battle started. On account of the recognition of its list, added with the fact that four of the five designated monitors from the national headquarters attended its own congress, Nnaji's side laid firm claim to recognition. On the other hand, the government side, headed by Vita Abba, hitherto unknown Aba-based trader, claimed that since an INEC representative attended theirs, added with the presence of the governor, who, by PDP tradition, was the leader of the party in the state, it had the upper hand. Well, it was true that Chime was (and is) the legitimate leader of the party, but the issue of INEC being present was neither here nor there, as the law providing for INEC to be at a congress came into force in 2010.
As the arguments and legal fireworks were underway, INEC simply ruled and firmly stayed with the position that Enugu was one of the states in which congresses were not properly conducted.
Of course, when Nnaji crossed over to the government side, leaving his colleagues in the lurch, it looked like the opposition had collapsed and government was going to have the day.
The situation was hanging that way when Nwodo returned and the avalanche broke. Rather than moving decisively as any leader would - that is dissolving the contentious executive - Nwodo simply vacillated, expressing fury; raging about failure to acknowledge him as coming of a famous political dynasty, there, and inclining to playing hide and seek, for all times; and the situation did the expected: Worsened! Now, it has spiralled out of control, Nwodo consumed and INEC rule clearly disobeyed!
As at the time the primaries for the 2011 elections were due, there had emerged over seven other factions, each holding its congress, electing its executives and conducting its own primaries. Now, a matter of 'every man to himself', nobody for the Party.
It was at this stage that INEC wrote to the PDP, maintaining that Enugu, among eight states, had not conducted satisfactory congresses, to produce credible executives, which would, in turn, conduct reliable primaries. INEC ended its letter to the PDP with the admonition that, 'time is of essence.'
Perhaps, in quickly realising the mess, which was unfolding, Nwodo now remembered to put his foot down as in other states. 'The proper congress must be held,' he thundered and stayed with it.
It was now the time for the government side to go to court, praying that its executive committee, state exco, be left in tact. Then, INEC wrote again, this time, reiterating that time was going and that since the case was in court, it would wait for the verdict. Now, despite being in court, the government side went and held its primaries, using the same disputed executive committee of the party as platform. This was after a hide-and-seek game appeared to produce a sharing formula of 50-50 per cent between the government and the Nwodo factions.
This was when people began to ask, what manner of struggles Nwodo had embarked on? Was he in pursuit of due process or merely seeking positions and bread for self and followers? The unfolding scenario clearly showed him a confused man, hardly appreciative of the import of his office, blinded by his rage against a previous government, travestied in his pretension to aristocracy and hounded by his naivety.
Now, Nwodo has been undone. For naivety and inclination to playing to the gallery, especially in laying too much claim to oratory, as if that solves all political problems, Nwodo failed to comprehend that a war with the bare knuckles was being waged against him. While he treated Chime with kid gloves, the governor went for his below-the-belt, with swiftly unhinged sword.
Yes, Nwodo is down and out and disgraced. But has the problem been solved? Far from it! At least, the INEC order has to be obeyed.
While Nwodo and Chime fought - one as if in a kindergarten game, the other as a formidable Roman gladiator poised for the kill – they appeared to forget that there was a case of due process hanging over their heads. Although both sides had worked out the selfish 50-50 per cent arrangement, it did not remove the necessity to hold the proper congress, which shall, in turn, conduct the credible primaries.
The question now is, will INEC lick back its spittle and sweep due process under the carpet? Or would the umpire make peculiar rules for PDP in Enugu State, after all, it is their thing and PDP knows no law other than itself. That will be the first hard bullet into the skin of the approaching general elections.
Indeed, some analysts had argued that neither Chime nor Nwodo believed he would go for elections, having failed to do what INEC said should be done, having paid more attention to ego trip than attempts at meeting the stipulations of INEC and largely having realised that each other's selfishness and unnecessary poise for endless war would knock them out of the time zone of the INEC schedule.
Who knows, INEC is in Nigeria and the ruling PDP is known to disobey orders with impunity. But, in reality, should INEC ever allow any of the contending PDP lists in Enugu State to get its nod for the elections, then we know that Attahiru Jega has not actually set to be the David but the Nebuchadnezzar of our time! Then, we can say, good-bye to any credible elections.