*The people have spoken – Bamanga Tukur
BY Henry Umoru
LAGOS—Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, political office holders and major party stakeholders from Abia State, yesterday, with one voice raised their opposition to alleged moves by former Governor Orji Kalu to return to the party.
The party stakeholders led by Governor Theodore Orji including all three senators, members of the House of Representatives and House of Assembly belonging to the PDP from Abia State, told the PDP national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur that Kalu carries a major credibility baggage that would negatively affect the cohesion and unity of the party in the state.
The immediate past governor of the state who is presently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, the stakeholders said would neither add quality nor quantity to the party’s fortunes in the state.
Orji who succeeded Kalu, and was elected in 2007 on the platform of Kalu’s PPA in supporting the decision to bar his predecessor, said Kalu’s return would be a distraction for the party in the state.
This is the second time that party stakeholders would be blocking Kalu’s purported re-entry to the party which he left in the months leading to the 2007 general election.
In 2010, the party stakeholders then led by Chief Emeka Wogu, the Minister of Labour and Productivity had led a similar campaign to frustrate the re-entry of the former governor to the party.
Wogu who was at the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting and Chief Ojo Maduekwe, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada were not involved but are believed to be supportive of the action.
In the position paper presented to Tukur by the National Vice-Chairman, South East, Col. Austin Akobondu, rtd, the party stakeholders said: “While our doors remain open for more reconciliation where needed and without prejudice to our commitment to ensuring a level- playing field for all members, there is unanimity that the readmission of any former member, whose presence would cause disaffection or return us to the battlefield of hostilities, would be stoutly resisted.
‘’Since his exit, PDP in Abia State has gone round the crisis cycle and emerged from those experiences an entirely different entity which today celebrates a prevailing atmosphere of unanimity, being relieved of the common source of deep-seated animosities and resentment.
“You may have also heard it elsewhere that the exit of the former governor was the rallying point in reconciling aggrieved members and setting the party on a sounder electoral footing. If the rumours making the round presently, that he has been making surreptitious moves to be readmitted into the party’s fold are correct, then there will surely be cataclysmic consequences for the party in Abia. This controversial and wholly unnecessary move will re-ignite the fire of trench- warfare among otherwise reconciled members.”
Also in his remarks, Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, said: ‘’Your Excellency, we have come with full hearts to show the world that we support you. Secondly, this is democracy. My people have spoken and I don’t need to repeat what they have said.”
Reacting to their position, national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who assured them that their remarks would not be discountenanced, said, that ‘’democracy is about choice. The people have spoken. People who talked here mentioned one thing: peace, harmony. That’s what I want. My mission is reconciliation without confrontation.”