By Tony Edike
ENUGU — MORE trouble appears to be on the way of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, in Enugu State, as the factions battling for the control of the soul of the state in 2011 have decided to explore legal options, since efforts to resolve the matter through dialogue had failed.
The end to the tussle, which is mainly centred on the quest for political power and relevance, has escalated, following a fresh case instituted against Dr. Nwodo by one Collins Amalu at Enugu State High Court, challenging his qualification to occupy the position of PDP national chairman on the grounds that he (Nwodo) was not a registered member of the party.
Nwodo, who had been severally accused of trying to bring through the back door “political dead woods” to control the administrative machinery of the state, had been at loggerheads with Governor Sullivan Chime, following the Independent National Electoral Commission’s, INEC, declaration of Enugu State as one of the states in the country without valid congresses.
INEC’s declaration is viewed by Chime’s camp as masterminded by Nwodo in his bid to instal “handpicked” executives.
But some PDP members in the state have seen this as a calculated attempt by the national chairman to justify his bid to take over the state’s party structure.
According to the people, Nwodo’s predecessor in office, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, has recognised the Vita Abba-led state executive committee and worked with the members before his coming. He wondered why the former governor, who is now on the saddle, would want a fresh congress conducted.
Disturbed over the crisis rocking Enugu PDP, former National Auditor of the party, Mr. Ray Nnaji, in a statement pointed out that a few self-centered individuals in the state, who had lost political relevance, “are now hiding at the back of INEC in an attempt to manipulate and hijack the party structure through the influence of their godfather, the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo.”
Nnaji who was reacting to the recent visit by some political stakeholders from the state to the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, was angry that Mr Reuben Ochi is now addressing himself as the factional chairman of the Enugu PDP.
He said: “I am highly compelled to state categorically without fear of equivocation that Reuben Ochi is not in any form a factional chairman of the party in the state as far as the 2008 PDP congress in Enugu State is concerned. It is on record that I was the only factional chairman that existed as far as the 2008 PDP congress is concerned.
“Secondly, it is spurious and the greatest act of deceit for the Nwodo’s group to allege that the 20_man delegation hand_picked by the national chairman himself, and led by his ‘all powerful’ younger brother, Nnia Nwodo to meet with the First Lady of the Federation represents the true stakeholders of the party in Enugu State.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth. Even a lay man in the street knows who and who form the statutory stakeholders of a political party in a particular state and Enugu State PDP will not be an exception just because the party’s national chairman is from the state and has vested interest.”
According to Nnaji, his “exit from the Ebeano group which Ochi now falsely claims to be their chairman and the revelation that the national chairman of the party was only encouraging the Ebeano group to register renewed grievances over the 2008 Congresses in order to create for himself a golden opportunity to take a firm grip of the party structure to the detriment of the group, all the members of that executive (Ebeano) had officially left the PDP for another political party called the People for Democratic Change (PDC).”
He, therefore, requested to know which faction of the PDP Ochi is chairing, asking whether it is the Nwodo faction or the Ebeano faction.
Similarly, members of the PDP in the state loyal to Governor Chime are unhappy over the heat generated by the issue of the fresh congress, saying that other parties such as the ACN, ANPP and CDC had conducted their congresses without making much fuse over it, saying that the issue of fresh congresses in Enugu State had been over dramatized.
They pointed out that the Enugu executive had in the past taken decisions which were well received by the party and found to beneficial to it like the waiver it granted to Nwodo himself, saying that the national chairman would have considered some of these things as a good party man who wants the progress of the party.
“As a man of honour as he claims to be, he should have written to INEC that the congresses in Enugu were in order as was done by his predecessor, especially as he was in the ANPP when the congress was held,” the PDP members said.
They, therefore, raised the alarm that the PDP may just be toying with the eight states it has called for fresh congresses, saying that the states are President Goodluck Jonathan’s strongholds even as they advised Nwodo to take a tour of the troubled states to calm down the party faithful and advised the warring parties to sheathe their swords.