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PDP chair: Who does the cap fit?

By Henry Umoru
WEDNESDAY, 13th May, 2010 will ever remain fresh when writers of history of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP settle down to put to book what will be in the archives of the party.

It was not a day set aside for the party to celebrate its success story, it was not really a day for celebration especially for those who were affected even though most beer parlours must have closed down because of celebration for those who may not like the person who made history that day.

It was a day the carnival finally closed for the embattled National Chairman of the self acclaimed largest party in Africa ,Prince Vincent Eze Ogbulafor, who resigned as leader of the PDP’s National Working Committee, NWC.

He ended for himself that journey which started March 8, 2008 at Eagle Square when the present NWC came on board.

Ogbulafor’s  leaving as Chairman of the Party came at a time the PDP was yet to come out with its guidelines ahead of the 2011 general elections and it came exactly sixty-seven days into his second year in office as Chairman of the party he once said would rule for sixty years.

The man Ogbulafor was a former member of the All Peoples Party (APP), former Minister, Special Duties (Economic Affairs), former Secretary of the party, before he became the National Chairman , the position he resigned from after what could be described as intense pressure from within and outside the party.

For the record, the Abia State Prince was the fifth National Chairman of the PDP and the second to have resigned under duress; he led the path of the Benue State Chief, Audu Ogbeh, who was forced out of the party for writing a letter on the way forward if Nigeria must move.  It was then seen as an insult on the President.

Going down memory lane, Chief Solomon Lar was the founding chairman of the PDP, a position he held till the party held its convention in 1999. At the party’s first convention , the fight to clinch the position was between the late Chairman of Arewa Consultative forum and the Aro of Mopa, Chief Sunday Awoniyi and Chief Barnabas Gemade.
Then Late Chief Awoniyi had the support of the G18 and G34, but the powers that be did not allow him; Gemade had his way and became the chairman of the party with the backing of the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Audu Ogbeh had to replace him when the honeymoon was over between Obasanjo and Gemade.

In 2004, crisis reared its head, Ogbeh who was the newest bride in 2001 fell out with Obasanjo, leader of the party, Dr Amadu Ali was brought in and ratified at the party’s convention in 2005, though there was no election, placing on record the only one for now that occupied the position without being elected and he left the stage for Ogbulafor who resigned on Wednesday, 1
3th May, 2010.

Ogbulafor’s resignation is now history, the very big challenge the party must contend with now is who replaces him as the sixth National Chairman . The Search for his replacement becomes heightened everyday with series of nocturnal meetings being held at least to get a manageable size. The chairmanship position was in 2008 zoned to the South-East and with the exit of Ogbulafor, a replacement must be sought for from the zone just like what happened when Chief Audu Ogbeh from the North Central resigned and Amadu Ali from North Central took over though the former from Benue while the latter from Kogi State.

It also happened when former National Secretary, Chief Ojo Maduekwe who hails from Abia became a Minister, Bernard Eze from Enugu State replaced him, same as when the Present Minister of Environment, John Odey who was the National Publicity Secretary became a Minister, Lady Ime Udom from the zone replaced him until a convention was held.

This arrangement is in line with Article 14.5 of the 2009 PDP amended constitution which says, “Where a vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the Party, the Committee shall appoint a substitute from the zone where the officer originated pending the conduct of election to fill the vacancy”.

It is against this backdrop that those interested in the position are increasing everyday, but at the end of the day, one person must emerge.  It may not be the first time the number of aspirants for political positions in the South-East will swell to such a large size. In 2008, the Chairmanship aspirants were twenty-six while during the Anambra State primaries to get who becomes the governor, they were forty-seven at the end of the day.

At the initial stage, it was gathered that those who indicated interest to replace Prince  Ogbulafor were the likes of former Minister of Education, Sam Egwu, ex-Minister of Commerce and Industry, Achike Udenwa and they hail from Ebonyi and Imo States respectively. These names have since disappeared, indication that they are no longer interested.

Other aspirants are former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, former Secretaries of the Party, Okwesilieze Nwodo and Bernard Eze both from Enugu State. Also lined up to become the National Chairman are Chief Dan Ulasi from Anambra State, Engr. Ezekiel Izuogu, Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu, Mrs Carol Nwosu, Chief Rex Onyeabor; Chief Ogbonnaya Aja-Nwachukwu, Chief Sonny Iroche, Senator Polycarp Nwite, Chief Noel Chukwukadibia,  and former Nigeria Ambassador to Togo, Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi.

As  each day passes by, with intrigues, meetings in place, the hand writing is already on the wall on where the pendulum would move to, while some are saying that Anyim Pius Anyim, Nwodo, Eze and Ulasi are favoured to clinch the position, others are saying especially the 2008 former aspirants that if injustice done to them must be corrected, one of the them must be.

It is for this reason that Ulasi and Anyim, Izuogu may have the chance to get it, while Nwodo is said to be having the backing of the Presidency and Eze that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Ulasi is also seen as Obasanjo’s man as well as that of the Presidency and some very powerful party members from the North also believe in him because of what they described as his principle mindedness and party experience. He was said to have handled the party well as Caretaker Committee Chairman, PDP, Anambra State during Chris Ngige and his NRC days.

But Nwodo and Eze hail from Enugu State, Nwodo for now is also favoured, but what may work against him is the fact that he left the party for  Action Congress and only returned recently. Nwodo is articulate, he handled the party well as the Secretary, but except if there is a waiver of Article 8.9 of the PDP constitution which says, “Persons who desire to rejoin the Party after leaving it shall, unless exempted by the National Working Committee, be placed on probation for a period of time not less than a year”.

Senator Ike Nwachukwu, a strong member of the party had once left for the NDP, but he has since returned where Ogbulafor saddled him with the responsibility of chairing the PDP Elders’ Reconciliation Committee and he travelled round the country where he tried at resolving the crisis in the PDP states, this may work for him, but as at Wednesday, his names appears silent.

Former Senate President is a strong contender, he is a loyal person, he also has the record of stepping aside from PDP. He is a full member, highly respected by members and his former colleasgues at the National Assembly.

he may have their support, but what about that of his governor, Martins Elechi and the board of Trustees, BoT chairman, Chief Olusegun Obansajo.

As events unfold, the question is who replaces the Abia Prince,  Ogbulafor, time shall tell.


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