By Tony Edike
Tension heightened in Enugu yesterday as the two factions of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state grappled with the challenges of fresh congresses ordered by the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party to resolve the crisis that had since engulfed the party in the coal city state.
In the past few months, a camp loyal to Governor Sullivan Chime and the other working with the national chairman of PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, have done the political battle at various levels and the verdict of the NWC on Monday seemed a resolve to break the perennial logjam.
The fresh congresses begin today with the election of executives that will run the affairs of the party in all the electoral wards in the state, as rival camps which had been at each other’s throats over the issue of new congresses, are at daggers-drawn at the moment.
At the height of the groundswell of tension yesterday, leaders of the faction of the party working with the national chairman of the party, raised an alarm over alleged plans by the rival camp to unleash violence at congress venues and country homes of former senator, Chief Fidelis Okoro, and former Information Minister, Chief Nnia Nwodo.
Again, there were indications yesterday that Chime’s camp had become embattled as cracks may have emerged in its ranks as governor’s chief strategists tried to find ways of rallying itself to redemption during a meeting at the Governor’s Lodge on Monday.
Speaking on behalf of the leaders of the camp, Hon. Okey Ogbonna, who is also the secretary of Nsukka caucus of the group, alleged that there were real threats coming from the rival camp to the effect that homes of the former senator and former information minister will be bombed.
The group also alleged that classified information available to them indicate that rival camp have planned to unleash violence at the venues of the fresh congresses because it appears to the governor’s camp that it has lost the battle to stop the exercise.
Ogbonna who spoke to our reporter after a closed door meeting of his camp on how to maximize the gains inherent in today’s ward congresses stated that “we are billed to conduct the congresses beginning from tomorrow as directed by the NWC but threats are coming to our leaders, Senator Fidelis Okoro and Nnia Nwodo.
“Our sources have told us that their homes will either be bombed or burnt down. They are also planning to attack the venues of our congresses, using political thugs that have already been engaged for that purpose.
“That is why we are calling on the police and other law enforcement agencies in the state to rise to the occasion and protect law-abiding party members from these planned attacks, and we have, accordingly written to the commissioner of police in the state.”
“We are appealing to all the heads of the security agencies operating in the state to avert any such calamity”, he stated
Asked why he thinks the other camp wants to cause the alleged planned violence, Ogbonna who was a state secretary of PDP and one-time commissioner for Establishments in the state said “they have always insisted that the congresses rejected by INEC were conclusive but you can see that the NWC did not want to allow this matter to continue to jeopardize the chances of the party as we prepare for the 2011 elections”.
On the seeming cracks in the ranks of the governor’s camp, it was gathered that contrary to the decision of the leadership of the camp that National Assembly aspirants members should not go to Abuja for their screening as directed by the party, many of them may have proceeded to Abuja for the exercise that holds today.