What Manner of Party is the PDP in Anambra?
Since losing the state to Peter Obi inspired APGA following the 2003 election that temporarily produced Sen. Chris Ngige as governor, the PDP has become a workshop for “political merchants” who continue to use the party for their business interests. The PDP stalwarts who are age-long in this trend, as the last election revealed, include; Mr. Chris Uba, Nicholas Ukachukwu and brothers, Prince John Emeka, Ken Emekayi, Ben Nwankwo and recently others joined, including Sen. Stella Oduah, Ifeanyi Ubah and almost all the PDP House of Representatives members from Anambra State.
They specialize in nurturing their own political structures in the State to place them at an advantage at the negotiation table during every election year. They use the strength of their so-called structures to earn higher negotiating power and send them to work for the highest bidder during elections. The highest bidder is usually from another party. To them, anti-party is just a word. This has gone on for so long that it now seems normal with the PDP in Anambra State without any consequence.
Enter Peter Obi. That trend was destined to change. Once the former Governor, who is widely seen as one of the best governors in the history of the country, was forced out of APGA by the party leadership and dragged into the PDP by an irresistible entourage that stormed his Onitsha residence on that fateful day in 2014. Obi began to gradually change the face of PDP in the State and started putting up a strong base for a re-launch of the party in the State.
PDP had agreed that Governors will automatically become leaders of the party in their States while it will be immediate past governors in States were PDP are in opposition. That officially handed Peter Obi the leadership of the party in the State and set the stage for the rancor by the political merchants in the party who deemed Peter's presence an eternal frustration of their age-long business. It proved to be so as the party, for the first time in a long while, attracted a personality such as Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze, a globally-revered diplomat whose career at the United Nations was replete with excellence and not just that, the PDP also for the first time in twelve years conducted one primary election which was televised live on national television as against multiple primaries that obtained previously. It was unthinkable!
That angered the business lords whose deal was burst with the introduction of transparency into the PDP. They tried to derail the party as Ken Emekayi and Ifeanyi Ubah did, and were hit with suspensions. Both, in addition to Hon. Ben Nwankwo, eventually defected officially and worked for APGA. Others including Stella Oduah, the Ukachukwus, Chris Uba and all other PDP National Assembly members, excluding Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu and Hon. Chris Azubogu, worked for APGA while still maintaining that they are PDP members. Figures that circulated on the social media showed that they were heavily paid by the incumbent governor to work for him. Some allegedly received over N600 million while the lowest payout was N50 million. They worked against their party and ensured it lost the election.
Barely two weeks after betraying their party, they are back to the same party to maintain the structure that feeds their pocket as the Ward, Local Government and State Congresses commenced and it left me to wonder if God is so unkind to leave these ones without conscience? How can one be so brazen in impunity? I expect PDP to bite hard at all those that engaged in anti-party activities during the election. Failure to do so will mean there is no PDP in Anambra State for certainty. This practice is killing the enthusiasm of those who want to genuinely join the party.
Beyond that, they now have a harder nut to crack. It was only Peter Obi about a year ago, now Mr. Oseloka Obaze, as the candidate of the party in the concluded elections, is the leader of the party in the State. If I know him well, he will insist on global best practices in the Anambra State PDP. He won't take anything less and that is why another battle is on by the political business merchants to hijack the party from him. This is a battle they are destined to lose.
Anambra PDP has an amazing opportunity to rebuild itself with the mouthwatering Obaze - Obi combination. If they get the needed support from the National PDP, Anambra State will boast of the best PDP state structure soon, especially with 2019 around the corner. PDP needs to pamper Obaze and Obi well enough as they have very few of their ilk as members, losing them will be suicidal for the party's survival.
There are rumours that Governor Obiano is very interested in PDP structure in the State to ensure that those members who worked for him are firmly in control of the party.
I am sure the party's national Chairman, HE Ahmed Makarfi is not ignorant of all these. My dilemma is; will they allow these individuals that publicly sabotaged the party to remain in the party? Is PDP planing to close shop in Anambra? As Obaze recently said during his speech at a State function, “the best way to immortalize Alex Ekwueme is to rebuild PDP in Anambra State”.
Nwanna Chidozie is a Political Scientist and a Social Commentator. He writes from Awka, Anambra State.