NORTH CAN'T INTIMIDATE US â€“GRAHAM-DOUGLAS, SOUTH SOUTH LEADER
Mastery of the soap box, the ability to speak to convince all is the trademark of a good politician. In his acceptance speech as National Chairman delivered at the 51st National Executive Committee, [NEC] meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Okwesilizie Nwodo, left no one in doubt of his grasp of the enormous challenges facing the Party and the ill feeling the PDP has courted for itself.
“ We rode to power on the massive support and enormous goodwill of the Nigerian people. Over the years, we have squandered this goodwill to the point that even some of our members and other Nigerians say that the problem of Nigeria is the PDP…`
At every forum he has been opportune to speak since his assumption of office, he continues to speak on his commitment to paradigm shift: retrieve the PDP from the abyss it has sunk and restore normative values in the troubled party.
Those familiar with the circumstances surrounding the forced exit of Nwodo`s predecessor in office, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and forces that propped up Nwodo took his agenda with a pinch of salt. A month and few weeks after, the new PDP national chairman has left no one in doubt of the sincerity of his mission.
But Daily Sun investigation revealed that the reform has since run into troubled waters.
PDP Governors` gang up
Even when the governors sacrificed Ogbulafor for Nwodo to emerge, they left no one in doubt that they would not let go their grip on the party. While they indulge in their grandstanding, the new helmsman at Wadata Plaza took a poise that was not lost on the governors: Nwodo wanted to keep them at arms length, politically.
Whatever doubt some of them had was obliterated, as the PDP national chairman declared that he would not entertain nocturnal, or private visit from any of the PDP Governors.
“ I have told our governors not to come to my home. If they want to see me, let them come to the office,` the PDP National chairman had said at a media parley.
It has since been taken as an open declaration of war.
Online registration in a hitch
The governors who were waiting to take their pound of flesh had since reacted, by dealing a fatal blow on the project that would enable Nwodo to walk his talk of retrieving the party structures in the States from the PDP governors—the online registration of members.
Before the signing of the final agreement with the consultant handling the project, Identification Services Limited and the consortium of banks, the PDP national chairman had left the cat out of the bag, by declaring, at every given opportunity that a noble scheme that would permanently empower the Party financially and make it autonomous of those who get into public office on PDP platform was underway.
Representative of the consulting firm, Identification Solutions Limited, Foluso Falaye, told Daily Sun that the innovation would ensure that members of the party and intending members could approach the designated banks and pay a sum of N1,200 as annual membership fee. “Proceeds is to be shared in the ratio of 35 percent to the consultants, Identification Solutions Limited,[ ISL] and the partnering banks while 65 percent would go the Party.“
For a party in control of the central government, 28 states in the federation and the National Assembly, the scheme would have afforded it a handy source of revenue.
Dr Nwodo also restated the import of the online registration on the occasion of the signing of the final agreement.
“We are entirely grateful to our consultants whom we have worked very closely with to arrive at this innovation.
We are very grateful to our five participating banks, who are partnering with us to do this innovation. We are going to collect our members dues directly captured into our banks without any intermediary.
That's the most seamless and fool proof way of getting our money into our accounts. I don't think we can devise anything more transparent.
Secondly, it offers our members a seamless operation to get registered with the party, without being unduly obstructed by factionalisation in any of our party branches.
It also gives us a ready data with which to carry on our operations in the party, because with our data bank, we can tell you how many females are members of PDP in Nigeria and how many males are members of our party and we can get the same data, for each of the geo-political zones in Nigeria, each of the state, each of the local government, each of the ward.
We can also, twenty four hours a day know how much is taken into each of our account as the registration goes on.“
But noble as his intention was the governors spoke in unison against the scheme and their position was adopted by the Party NEC which met penultimate Thursday. At the 52nd NEC meeting, the governors advanced the logic that the project was ill timed, as it was too close to the conduct of the party primary and general elections.
PDP chieftains who spoke with Daily Sun advanced reasons for the Governors position on the issue of online registration.
A PDP gubernatorial aspirant in Osun State, Barrister Tunde Odanye aligned himself with the governors` submission.
`Yes, the governors have a point, that it is too close to the election. Any radical change might destabilize the system .I also believe that our members are ill informed and the party needs to do further sensitization before embarking on the project. Changes are always resisted, it is in the nature of people to do that. Not everybody will buy reform. Some, maybe they need further information, others, because they feel threatened that it would undermine their privileges“.
Odanye however did not agree with the insinuations that the governors spoke against the scheme, because they felt threatened that they might lose their grip on the party structure in their states.
“It is in the nature of politicians to be suspicious of any initiative that is out of their control, or they feel they can not manage. No doubt, Nwodo has the best of intentions, but you never can tell what the field officers could do. I believe electronic data basis is good, not only for PDP, but for everything we do in this country. Having a central data basis is the way to go.
Again, I think it would be wrong to assume that all the PDP Governors are against it. You know some of them are serving their last term, statutorily. They know that if they don't buy reforms now, they would eventually be at the receiving end. It will also be wrong to assume that all the governors are the political god fathers in their states. So the argument that they are all against online registration is a media hype.“
Chyna Iwuanyanwu also shared the position of Odanye that the scheme is not practicable now.
“ When the national chairman called me to discuss it with me, I told him that online registration wasn't practicable .Do we have electricity in the cities, not to talk of the rural populace? Where you have computers, there is no light. The rural people have no knowledge of ICT. That could give the field officers the advantage to corrupt the process.
We may end up registering people only in Lagos and Abuja, while inadvertently, deregistering not only the rural populace, but our members in major cities. I told Dr Nwodo all these.`
But Iwuanyanwu also offered the `real reason for the governors position.“
His remarks: “The governors want to rig the party primary, by de-registering some people. It would backfire on PDP. They want to retain their grip by deregistering their perceived opponents in the Party.“
Senator Ameh Ebute however expressed indignation over the attitude of the PDP Governors and advised the beleaguered national chairman of the Party to be firm on any policy that would bring sanity to the PDP.
“Nwodo is trying, but he should be more courageous. He should be ready to damn the opposition within the party. If I were him, I will not dance to the tune of anybody.
He should emulate Ahmadu Ali. Nwodo needs to be bold. To begin to bend according to threats from members of the Party isn't the best. Once he makes a pronouncement on any party policy, he should stand by it.