By Ben Umoru
SENATOR Uche Chukwumerije representing Abia North Senatorial District has dismissed the PPA as nothing but an extention of the business empire of Chief Orji UzorÂ Kalu. Announcing his resignation from the party, Chukwumerije cited alleged lack of interestÂ in the party.
Chukwumerije said the PPA wasÂ a family business where the shareholders are Madam Eunice UzorÂ Kalu and her children, andÂ all the members of the party are employees. The query givenÂ him by the partyâ€™s national chairman, Larry Esin, heÂ likenedÂ toÂ the â€œvoice of Jacob, hand of Esauâ€.
His words, â€œBut why the medium of a query? The medium is a perfectly appropriate systemic expression of the organisation of PPA. It reflects the character of the proprietory family structure of PPA. Whatever its exterior postures, PPA is not a political party, a public property. It is a family business in which the sole shareholders are Madam Eunice UzorÂ Kalu and her children. All the members of the party are employees.
â€œIt is true that the practices of all Nigeriaâ€™s political parties fall short of internal democracy in varying degrees. But it is sadly true that PPA stands out both in degree and kind from the rest. The familiar art of godfatherism and selection, in place of election, has been refined in PPA to a routine standard mode of royal hand_pickings.
â€œThe method of royal hand pickings operates through an unwritten patronage network:_ sole control of all key posts, elective or appointive, division of Abia State into zones of pasture among the share holders like the hunting spheres of predators, the pivotal role of an ostensibly cultural body, Reality OrganisationÂ (not known to PPAâ€™s constitution or Nigeriaâ€™s Electoral Laws and owned by â€˜Mother Excellencyâ€™) as the sole dispensers of state patronage and, finally, the adroitÂ use of the law to subvert the law via a charade of captive conferences and occasional resurrection of â€œparty organsâ€ to rubber_stamp resolutions of family party Board meetings. It is a network of compliance mechanisms to ensure totalitarian control in Abia.
â€œSadly, todayâ€™s PPA is at the polar opposite of its original format and intentions. PPA began as a robust protest against President Obasanjoâ€™s kill of internal democracy in PDP. The outstanding courage of the then governor, Chief Orji UzorÂ Kalu, the concerted energy of the mobilized masses and the glittering vision of a new dawn of popular democracy induced the birth of the party. But in no time PPA quickly malformed into a private estate. The kindest explanation to this sad phenomenon, as is evident from the nationwide turf struggles between incumbent governors and their predecessor godfathers, is the inability of our political leaders to manage either success and succession or fear and trauma of eclipse. But for Abia, any one who wonders about the wizardry behind the success of a half_illiterate corporal Hitler in foisting ruthless Nazism on Germany should study the rise and dominance of PPA inÂ Abia.
â€œFamily political control brings us to the issue of political economy of Abia State. Three control posts â€“ (i) control over key posts, (ii) control over a network of paybacks and tithes, and (iii) control over state business contracts â€“ operate in a triangular relay to frame and define the political economy of underdevelopment of the state. Abia is virtually a sole family business in which its owners retail their franchise to political surrogates.
â€œIt is now obvious that an incurable systemic flaw has brought PPA to a road end. The family proprietory structure, unable to meet the vigorous requirements of internal democracy demanded of a political party, suffers serious self_contradiction and faces prospects of a stunted growth. It cannot meet the basic and mandatory demands of participatory democracy in a third_world country.
â€œFirst and foremost, the hand_picking mode of processing political manpower destroys accountabilityÂ and institutionalizes corruption. The grim harvest is a festering cesspool of professional sycophants, praise singers and political jobbers.
â€œEqually dehydrating, the deep dichotomy between the political share_holders and employees breeds widespread alienation. The value foundation of our democratic culture is daily undermined by the rumoured plan and determination of UzorÂ Kalu family to clamp a 25_year_old political dynasty on Abia people â€“ a move bound to be resisted by the gallant freedom lovers of Abia as a provocative insult to their republican spirit.
â€œAbove all, the structure is not hospitable to the prospects of emergence of a wider regional platform that can carry out the immediate task of steering East and South East back unto its rightful place in the federal arrangement and thereby reinforce the stability of Nigeria. It does not require a prophet to see that the imperative of Nigeriaâ€™s political stability demands a return to regional accommodation as the military interregnumâ€™s rigid centralized structure of the last four decades increasingly thaws out in response to the dynamics of our plural societyâ€.