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PPA in tatters: Decimation of a party

By Anayo Okoli

Umuahia – This is not the best of times for the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, as a disagreement between the leadership and its only remaining governor climaxed with the defection of the governor.

The rank of the already battered opposition to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, seems to have been  further depleted with the defection, last week, of the party’s remaining state governor, Theodore Orji of Abia  State, to the rival APGA.

The party’s only elected senator, Comrade Uche Chukwumerieje,  has also abandoned the party which he dismissed as a business outfit of the founder, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, the immediate past governor of Abia State.

The party’s other state governor, Ikedi Ohakim of Imo, abandoned the ship some months back, and pitching his tent with the PDP with which the PPA has a working accord.

The founder of the PPA himself,  Kalu, was originally in the PDP and left only in the run up to the 2007 elections  on account of his disagreement with  former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

But the joy did not last long in Imo State as Ohakim defected after  two years of being  PPA governor. This generated a lot of altercation between the governor and Kalu who is also  the party’s BoT chairman. Two of them traded accusation and counter accusation, alleging one fraud against each other. But when the dust settled, Ohakim had gone and PPA lost one of its states. Abia State therefore remained  as the only PPA state. Following this development, the responsibility of funding the party fell squarely on the governor of Abia State. The party concentrated its leadership and activities in Abia State, where the PDP turned opposition.

However, the story has changed for bad for the party following the current crisis which saw  Orji leaving the party for APGA. The party now has no power base, apart from the law makers in both  federal and state legislatures. The impact of the governor’s exit must no doubt be felt in the party more so now that 2011 general elections are approaching. It is obvious that the bulk of the fund for keeping the party’s flag flying was coming from the governor  and perhaps with complimentary contributions from the law makers and other political office holders. Funding of political party, especially in election year,  is not a child’s   play. And for a party that has been in control of two states and  expected to grow bigger, the exit of the two governors has become a sad and tragic story. To the people of the state, the exit of the governor from the party  is  liberation from bondage. Perhaps, the party did not envisage that Orji could muster the courage to leave the party going by the long relationship between him a
nd  Kalu who is his political mentor.

To  the party leadership, it was like it would never ever happen  that  Orji  would   part ways with the PPA  and by extension his political mentor, the founder and BOT chairman of the party.  They were seen as being too close, having worked closely for long and shared a lot of confidence.

This belief is held because the relationship between the governor, his party and  Kalu had been very cordial till sometime last year when some political groups emerged within the party, clamouring for the governor’s second term bid. This did not go down well with the party and the BOT chairman. In fact, this led to the unceremonious removal of the former chairman of the party, Chief Kalu Eke Kalu, and replaced  with the current chairman, Ezeogo Emeka Onuoha, a kinsman of the former governor. The groups were seen as trying to shore the governor’s popularity and give him the leverage to be independent. The matter was however resolved and the relationship continued but on shaky ground, while  both parties consistently denied that any rift existed.

But the public started noticing clear rift following some level of mistrust between the governor and his deputy, Comrade Chris Akomas, believed to be very close to the BOT chairman. First was when the deputy chief of staff, Chief Charles Ogbonnaya, a kinsman of the governor who works with the deputy governor, was said to have reduced the security personnel attached to the deputy governor, an action said to be beyond his power. Reason was that it was speculated that Akomas was nursing the ambition to contest the 2011 polls. Even though this was resolved, the relationship between Orji and Akoma had been strained.

The exit of   Orji from the party may  lead to the total collapse of the party. This is because since he announced his exit, the state  radio, Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State [BCA], has been airing  announcements of  groups  commending the governor for leaving the party and declaring their intention to join him in APGA. Even traditional rulers have been praising Orji  for his courage to jettison PPA which they see as the liberation of the state.

Indeed, the exit of the governor already has  negative impact on the party.  Ditto the defection of the PPA only  senator, Chukwumerije.


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