By Tony Edike, Enugu
For a greater part of his first term which is expiring in three months time, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has kept a low profile, keeping off reporters. But all that changed recently when the governor who is fighting the battle of his political career voluntarily gave an unimpeded access to newsmen from the print and electronic media establishments to interact with him. The governor offered to take any question.
One of the issues which the governor took time to reflect on was the recent conflict between him and the former National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo. From the governor’s comments, it was clear to decipher that his unflinching support for the ascendancy of Nwodo to the exalted throne of PDP leadership, was a great mistake and a wrong political calculation.
In an emotion-laden voice, Chime said “events of the past few weeks have proved me wrong, because of the problems we brought upon ourselves” That problem, he admitted, was the support and resources deployed by the Enugu State Chapter of PDP, which he leads,to ensure Nwodo’s emergence as PDP National Chairman.
Enugu State has been in the news lately largely on the strength of the PDP primaries and the removal of Dr. Nwodo, an indegene, as PDP National Chairman all of which seem to have caused distractions.
Well, the distraction did not actually come from people you referred to as PDP members but rather it was in our bid to receive everybody and bring them under the PDP umbrella. It was as a result of the open door policy we introduced to welcome all and in the process some people not used to real democratic ideals the PDP has always been known for entered and joined us. They came with what they called reform and internal democracy. And we were carried away by those slogans.
They came on board and even ascended to the highest position within the party. But unfortunately and from nowhere when they got the power, we began to see their meaning of internal democracy. Little did we know that what their internal democracy meant was to pick people from nowhere and replace the elected officials, the powerful people to handpick the candidates and not allow people to vote through the normal primaries.
Initially when it started, I thought it was a joke because what I was confronted with was the request for the change
of their ward chairman of the party. I thought it was a joke, from the ward chairman to their party chairman in the local government, the zone and then the State. Their reform and internal democracy is all about how to share political offices, delegates. That was what distracted us. We found strangers in our midst.
But thank God it is now past tense. I thank God that what happened has happened. They are undemocratic democrats. They are non PDP members who took the advantage of our open door policy. It was a complete distraction we did not expect.
Is it true that the former National Chairman of PDP Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo was denied registration as a member of the party in his ward?
On the denial of registration to the former PDP National Chairman Dr. Nwodo, I can say that it is still the same thing revolving round. The same thing. Not knowing the system, not knowing that he had to properly register as member before anything, he came to us and told us that he had come back as a party man and we encouraged him. When the issue of chairmanship came up, we all encouraged him and he was welcomed to the party at Okpara Square.
Under the constitution of PDP, if you are a member of PDP, you must go and register, your name must be on the register and they will give you a card as evidence and you pay a fee for it. He did not do those things and eventually, he became the National Chairman and caused us all the embarrassments. So we did not refuse to register him. It is only that he refused to do the right thing.
In the past few weeks we have witnessed problems in the executive council of PDP in the State. The national headquarters dissolved the State Exco and ordered fresh congresses and today there is the issue of the authentic executive list between the Vita Abba-led PDP and the Okey Ogbonna faction. Can you clear the air on this?
The State Executive of the PDP was not dissolved. It is only that some strangers came in and did the is unconstitutional. The National Chairman has no power and will never have the power to dissolve any State Executive of the party. The power to dissolve the State executive lies with National Executive Committee of the party. The National Working Committee has been delegated with powers or authority to exercise those powers in cases of emergency only and thereafter subject it for ratification by the NEC of the party.
So not even the NWC has final power to dissolve any State Executive Committee. So what happened was that our brother and friend assumed power and decided to arrogate to himself all the powers of the party. So that was why he was able to get his personal aide to issue that statement and the party immediately distanced itself from the action of the National Chairman.
Since then, we have had several NEC meetings, National Executive Committee meetings and the representative of the State branch of the party, or the State Chairman of the party has always attended the meeting as a member of the NEC. So there is no question and there has never been any question as to who is the real executive. The present PDP State Executive was elected in February 2008 and they have consistently been recognized and functioning as such.
A certain group in 2008 that called themselves Ebeano laid claims to a parallel congress. They fought until they were tired and moved to PDC. As they were leaving, another group came up and started laying their own claims. So, they can continue laying claims. The present State Executive will be there till 2012 when their term will expire. So we do not have problem with that. We have one State Executive of PDP.