By Dayo Benson
With the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission not to recognize the existence of the Peoples Democratic Party state executives in eight states, including Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Kogi and Plateau states, where it said the 2008 congresses did not comply with provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010, the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has put up measures to conduct fresh congresses in th affected states.
The decision of Nwodo’s executive to conduct fresh congresses in some states, have been given a more than passing interest by many, who believe that it comes with a lot of imports, different from the official explanation. Even though the party insists that the exercise is in fulfillment of the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which said it did not recognise its executives in nine states because of flawed congresses, many analysts believe that it is all part of a plot to skew the entire electoral outcome next year to favour some interests.
Following the changing tide of political calculations in the country, some new forces have emerged in different states, with determination to control their individual politics. One of the outcomes is the attempt by them to determine who gets what.
Thus, while President Goodluck Jonathan, seen as the main force in the entire calculation, appears sure to take charge of the PDP machinery in his home state, Bayelsa, in addition to the national executive, Nwodo, who had been sidelined for a long time in the party he was a co-founder is said to be rooting to take back Enugu.
However, one of the states where the new scheming in the party appears quite evident is Delta, where the matter of replacement of its executive is now before the courts for determination. Indeed, the party in the state appears to have known no peace since the emergence of Peter Nwoboshi as the chairman.
The crisis that emanated, which has dogged it ever since, is believed to be a fallout of Emmanuel Uduaghan’s emergence as the state governor in 2007. Nwoboshi’s emergence was rejected by some party members who felt due process was not observed.
The protest was anchored on the shoulders of Chief Edwin Clark, an Ijaw elder and former Minister of Information. Thus, the target is actually believed to be the governor, who the Ijaw leader has never hidden his reservations about. Clark, it was, who told then PDP National Chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, that the relative peace in the state was on the edge of being compromised as a result of the manner the party’s executive emerged.
His grouse was that Nwaoboshi’s candidacy was unconstitutional “as he was not duly elected.” Consequent upon that another faction led by the octogenarian, has been fighting to reverse the situation.
In fact, every attempt by Ogbulafor to calm frayed nerves by appealing to the faction to accept the leadership of Nwaoboshi since he was the party’s choice, failed. He was said to have vowed that it was a matter of time before the Nwoboshi executive is rooted out.
That time seems to have finally come now and Clark and his camp seem to be doing everything to seize the moment. Some people see Clark gaining advantage as a result of his fellow Ijaw, Goodluck Jonathan becoming the President, an outcome observers see as enough instrument to wield enormous powers, whether he obtains the President’s approval or not.
Already, politics in the state has become sharply divided with one group gravitating towards him and another to the governor. That in itself, underscores the new wave of political events in the state.
With Ogbulafor gone, Nwodo is now in the saddle and the tide appears to be changing fast and observers say it could deal a deadly blow on its target, except something is done to either change its course or stem it completely. Nwoboshi, however, appears to also understand the intensity of the dangers ahead, the direction it is coming and its destination.
For him, the new onslaught is nothing but mere witch-hunting. Indeed, there is the belief in his camp that involvement of eight other states in the letter sent by INEC directing the dissolution of the state executives, was a decoy, as Delta was the actual target.
The camp is pointing fingers at Regina Omo-Agege, INEC’s director of Political Parties Monitoring (PPM), who issued the said letter. Latching on insider sources, the camp argues that Omo-Agege was making covert moves to ensure a restructuring of the state executive in order to pave way for her blood relation – Augustine Ovie Omo-Agege, who is one of the strongest opponents of Uduaghan in the past and now, to emergence as governor in 2011.
Clark, on the other hand is believed to be pushing for a fellow Ijaw man and his alleged godson, Godsday Orubebe, Minister of the Niger Delta for the office. It is yet to be determined how things would eventually play out in the collaboration between Omo-Agege, who is Urhobo, by the time the real contest begins, but analysts say the first task now for the two camps is to remove the Nwoboshi executive, considered a collective enemy.
The embattled camp, which is alleging that INEC’s position constituted interference in party affairs, an act, which it claims, was not in its purview, insists that it was validly elected.
The argument is that Nwaoboshi emerged as a consensus candidate, being the only one who picked the form for the chairmanship position. However, another argument has arisen as to whether the party’s constitution or the Electoral Act allowed for such a process or not.
But the supporters of the chairman answer in the affirmative, saying it was not the first time that party positions had been awarded to consensus candidates. The late President Umaru Yar’Adua, they stated was a consensus candidate selected by the party, so was Ogbulafor.
They wonder why the question of irregularities would still arise two years after electing the present executive, adding that it would not serve the interest of the party or natural justice for some aggrieved members to want to forcefully snatch its machinery from people who had worked for it since its inception in the state.
Predicting that the party’s chances would be greatly jeopardised in 2011, if this happened, Nwaoboshi and his team, have since gone to court, where they secured the interim court injunction ordering INEC and the PDP national executive to desist from nosing into their affairs pending the hearing of the case at the Federal High Court in Abuja, which has been adjourned to October 27.
Arati Abdu-Kafar, who presided over the matter, had specifically ordered that INEC should refrain from instigating or calling on the PDP to dissolve its Delta executive. He also ordered PDP, by itself, servants, officers, agents, privies from acting on the directive of the commission to dissolve the executive and preventing it from exercising and discharging its functions.
“The first defendant (INEC), either acting by itself or through its officers, agents, servants or privies or otherwise, howsoever, is restrained in the interim from excluding the plentiffs (Nwoboshi’s executive) from participating in the process of taking actions and decisions in respect of the forthcoming 2011 general elections pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.
“That an order of injunction restraining the first defendant from refusing to accept and/or recognise candidates to be sponsored and/or nominated from Delta State as a result of actions and decisions of the State Executive Committee of the PDP, Delta State pending the determination of the Motion on Notice, is also granted.
For now, even the six states Anambra, Bayelsa, Enugu, Imo, Kogi, and Oyo, where the congresses were supposed to have taken place at the ward level during the weekend, in compliance with the INEC letter, have been asked to wait, owing to what the party explained was the absence of interim executives to oversee the exercise.
It would be quite interesting to see how the current set of debacles end, not only in Delta, but other states ahead of 2011.