S' EAST GOVS UNITE FOR NWODO
Governors of Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra yesterday graced the reception organized for the new National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo. The governor's show of solidarity and perceived new born desire for unity in the zone is coming less than 24 hours the Governors' Forum agreed that none of them should contest the 2011 presidential elections or offer themselves as running mate to any candidate but to work together for the benefit of the people of the zone.
Tongues went wagging at the venue of the event, Okpara Square, Enugu over the presence of Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State who recently joined APGA from PPA but the arrival of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, who is also the chairman, South-East Governors' Forum, was enough to douse speculations that Orji may have decided to join the PDP.
Governor Obi, who received cheers from the crowd as he spoke, said the decision of the governors to attend the event was in line with the new spirit of unity, which the governors had vowed to uphold.
He noted that for the first time in the history of the zone, governors agreed to relegate personal interest to the base by accepting not to be a running mate or contest the 2011 presidential election but to support any candidate that would guarantee a better interest for the zone.
'We are not here to talk of this party or that party but we have come to honour a worthy son of Igboland for his appointment; his appointment is for the Igbo's and we all are supporting him. We want Igbo unity.
'I have seen great Igbo sons here, and I want to use this opportunity to urge these illustrious sons to help us build a united zone.'
Governor Obi called for support and solidarity for the new party chairman and warned that for whatever reason, no Igbo man should attempt or join in any attempt to undermine his tenure as national chairman.
In his speech, the new Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, who could not hold back his joy said: 'I am happy that the unity we have longed for in the zone is coming now that I am made the national chairman of the party; a unity we have not seen for a long time.
'By this show of unity, you are sending a message across the land that the Igbo's can be united; that even if we have diversity, we are united. That we can sit at home and plan for Nigeria; that we want gains of democracy for our people not presidency or vice presidency.'
'Let this massage be spread that we have come to a stage where we look at merit, where we look at integrity, where we look at dignity not a time where leadership is based on tribe or religion. I am happy to be an Igbo man today and together we would build a great nation.'
'Our country has been bastardized, our country has been trampled upon, and the culprits are our own people. That is why I am on a mission of restoration in the values of the PDP that will in turn guide Nigeria. That's why I urge you to join me in this new change, this new direction because it has profit and it is a journey that will uplift you and me.'
Nwodo promised to rebuild the party, entrench internal democracy and restore the confidence of Nigerians in the party. 'We want to restore the power of the people to choose their leaders.
'Nobody in a democracy can take that power away from you; and to get your power back, all man made obstacles will be removed; we'll break down all chains of slavery and intimidation.'
In his speech, representative of President Goodluck Jonathan, Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gonak, expressed happiness that the emergence of a new PDP chairman had re-united the South East.
'I will report back to Mr. President and I will tell him that if there are generals in the army, that we also have generals in politics; what is happening today is also a testimony that Nigeria has crossed the boundary of political maturity.'
He described both the emergence of the president and that of the national chairman as God's intervention in Nigeria and urged the political leaders in the zone to maintain the unity initiative, which had already started to work.
Governor Sullivan Chime who was the chief host said the people of the state are happy to belong to PDP: 'We are a big family here and I can tell you that all the major stakeholders in the state are all members of the party.'
He noted that the party in the state had long adopted internal democracy in its affairs employing dialogue and consultation and expressed hopes that the new national party chairman would further boost the party in the state.
Among politicians who attended the crowded ceremony were former Vice President Chief Alex Ekwueme, former Governor of old Anambra State Chief Jim Nwobodo, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, former military administrator of Imo State, Commodore Anthony Oguguo, former ambassador to Greece, Chief Frank Ogbuewu, former governor of Akwa Ibom, Obong Victor Attah.
Others are former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, Senator Ayogu Eze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, members of National Assembly from the zone as well as speakers from the five states of the zone.