HOW NWODO KISSED THE CANVAS
He came barely six months ago on a blaze of glory. He was imbued with zeal and passion to change the old order of things in the ruling People Democratic Party (PDP). A party widely acknowledged as a behemoth, with an awkward style.
He preached endlessly about the restoration of 'true values' and returning the party to the dreams of the founding fathers. The applause from within was subdued, but outside deafening. Dr. Emmanuel Okwesilieze Nwodo, a former governor of old Enugu State and National Secretary of the party, pressed on.
Before his emergence as boss of the party, President Goodluck Jonathan was tipped off about his close relationship with former vice-president Atiku Abubakar. A friendship that dated back to his days as scribe of the party, when Atiku, held sway in the party and amongst the governors.
The president was not deterred by the alert. Indeed, he confronted Nwodo about the information during his exploratory meeting with him at the Villa. Nwodo confirmed the story, but informed the president that he actually told Atiku about his return to the party from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) about two years ago.
He, however, affirmed his commitment to the new vision of the president on the party, and his desire to retrieve it from the shackles of the governors and other hawks, known as 'godfathers' in popular parlance.
His confirmation as chairman came in a jiffy. His predecessor, Vincent Ogbulafor had fouled the air and there was an urgent need to clean up the place. He mounted the saddled imbued with the new vision, armed with the drive from the presidency. Soon, he was on full throttle, criss-crossing the nation with the message. His first spin was on the governors. He told them to stay clear of his house, and for better effect revealed he sent one of them packing from his house with his 'Ghana Must Go' bag.
From that moment, the movement to ease him out began. An underground work by the governors in liaison with key members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party began earnestly. Most of them resented his style of leadership which they claimed was unduly individualistic, self-serving, and dictatorial. Nwodo had murdered sleep. Petitions and reports began to fly about.
The presidency was under pressure. The president was told his 'error' in anointing him; how he ran the party as a personal fiefdom without consultations; how the party ran the risk of losing the April elections, because of his style, and how he was working fully for Atiku to grab the presidential ticket of the party in the guise of bringing reforms.
Before long, former President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) Olusegun Obasanjo, joined in the 'struggle.' He loathed him. A calm Jonathan took in all in his stride, but bidded for time.
The new PDP
Nwodo anchored his mission on the new PDP. A man with great oratorical skills, he confused Jonathan with great talks on it. Somehow he swallowed the bait. The e-registration, a direct assault on governors and godfathers took off. It was launched with fanfare with the president on the first take. An instant vicious reaction from the governors halted the march and the party was back to the starting point. But Nwodo, remained undaunted. He pushed on. But he was oblivious of the looming danger. A carefully conceived plot was laid out for him. At this point, he has been persuaded that the new style is not in the president's best interest.
And to make matters worse for him, he single-handedly gave Atiku the much needed waiver for him to contest in the presidential primary.
The presidency was alarmed.
Tales that he deliberately disbanded state executives of the party in states sympathetic to the president's aspiration grew stronger .
In Enugu and Oyo in particular, he was accused of working against the interest of jonathan by not supporting the antics, manouevres and machinations of the governors who were clearly working for the president. Nwodo, woefully failed to recognize the president's body language. He could not read his lips. He was obsessed with his desire to change the system. A member of the NWC, from the South-east, told Daily Sun, early in November last year that it would be a miracle if Nwodo will see through the primaries.
That boast has come to materialize.
In the run-up to the primaries, there were clear signs that his days as the party's number one man were numbered.
His dissolution of the state executives of the party in 8 states was the lynchpin. He was said to have done that with reckless fiat, without factoring in the interests of the president and his henchmen. That was the height of the affront. The hawks, surreptiously moved in for the kill.
A campaign against the ex-chairman was unleashed in a manner that was with obvious presidential backing. He was pitched against his colleagues in the NWC, the governors, and other party chieftains. In fact, it was learnt that certain party decisions were taken behind him at the Villa, with Chief Tony Anenih as the architect.
He fought back to regain control. Nwodo was in the struggle of his life. Through this melee, the president never for once confronted him on his sins. Jonathan nursed a personal grouse against him. He secretly felt he made him to lose on a number of occasions to governors based on bad advice. Those he stepped on their toes rebounded ferociously and with ubiquity.
The institution of the chairmanship of the party was under siege. His exit, was clear but what remained was the strategic part. Then the idea came. The president should continue to be aloof. Let a party, big-gun in his own state of origin approach the court to seek his removal. It worked.
It was to be passed off as coming from the direction of his state governor, who had been in the trenches with him, or better still, Atiku, his estranged buddy. Stung by this confetti of betrayal, and the unseen hands of the President, Nwodo decided to fight the whole long log.
He hurriedly rushed to court to vacate the order, rushed to the convention, where he forcefully took over proceedings in clear breach of warnings. The plotters were woken up; and they ensured his late surge was thrown off. Unknown to him, as he went back to court to revalidate his hold on power in the party, his fate had already been sealed. They had found good reason to strike with precision. Nwodo, had, walked into the elaborate trap, by taking the party to court.
An emergency national executive meeting was called. And the end came for the activist, messianic chairman.
An ethnic dimension had popped up in his removal. Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural organistion of Ndigbo's sees his removal as yet another epic chapter in the endless humiliations of the race.
The body argues that in four years, when the senate presidency was zoned to it, the ethnic group was ridiculed, producing as many as four people to occupy the position. Again, now the zone has the slot of chairmanship of the party, the 'musical chair' has begun. But, Nwodo's removal goes beyond the narrow ethnic interpretation.
The president's spin-doctors had strategically canvassed for a Northern chairman of the party to calm the North's nerves in the aftermath of Jonathan's victory as the standard bearer. Though some had argued that the move should be done in the event of his becoming president after the April polls. But he didn't want to take chances. Since the North must be appeased, even before the elections. Somehow, this new manipulations have left the South-East barren without any principal position within the intervention period of January-April. How this will pay off for Jonathan remains to be seen.