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At Mbutu Mbaise, rebranded Imo PDP reveals new strengths

A DAY in a political life can reveal more spectacle than star gazers can imagine. For Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, the last Saturday in September was longer than any other day in his telling political life history.

It was a day he caused some heavy guns in Nigerian politics to be moved to his Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise country home in solidarity. Name them: Senate President David Mark, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, state governors, senators and honourable members serving and retired, captains of industry, society’s movers and shakers.

Ihedioha showed why his meteoric rise through the national power grid did not happen by accident. His hat-trick of garlands was meticulously planned and executed with the precision of a Swiss carnival.

The unprecedented idea of combining the celebration of his dear mother, Dame Dorothy 80th birthday with the dedication of a Church building in her honour as well as the commissioning of a PDP office for use in his ward attracted a huge crowd of associates and admirers, the calibre and size of which has not been witnessed in Mbaise in recent memory.

However, it was the new alignment of forces reshaping politics in Imo State and the South East zone on display that set the event’s tone of discussion.

Leading this new coalition was PDP’s National Vice Chairman, South East zone, Colonel Austin Akobundu (rtd.), who led the party’s big wigs in a show of solidarity to Mbaise, putting a public face to an enterprise around which new winning template is being fashioned.

Imo State, once considered one of PDP’s safest bets, was lost to the All Grand Progressive Alliance, APGA, in the long-drawn, hotly contested 2011 governorship election, a shocking loss which altered the political calculus in the South East.

One year after, however, both APGA and PDP are experiencing different strokes. APGA is enmeshed in terminally crippling crises, which pundits predict will lead it to extinction.

The exit of Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu dealt APGA a crippling blow. APGA still controls Anambra and Imo states, but just. A former Secretary to the state government in one of the South Eastern states who was a guest openly bragged that the party was writhing in the throes of imminent death. In his estimate, by publicly humiliating and antagonising Governor Peter Obi while banking on Imo’s Rochas Okorocha, a flighty political bird with no preferred nest, APGA is brewing its own suicide potion.

APGA’s succession intrigues are tearing the party apart in Anambra and the centre can no longer hold. It is a platform on the verge of implosion and political talk in the East now is of a post-APGA era. The party now resembles a freshly bereaved family of a powerful oligarch whose wayward children, with no understanding of what their late father stood for, are determined to destroy his legacy to prevent rival brothers gaining any advantage over the other. The fight between APGA chairman Victor Umeh and Governor Obi is seen as APGA’s last ritual dance before decapitation.

PDP, on the other hand is enjoying a new bounce. The party is steadily regaining its magic, winning elections, welcoming former members and reconciling grumbling ones, along a path scripted by Akobundu, who promised in his acceptance speech to work for the reconciliation and repositioning the party in the zone.

First Raphael Nnanna Igbokwe of PDP defeated APGA’s Chidi Ibe in the re-run of the Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise federal constituency late February 2012. Then PDP’s Eugene Dibiagwu won the Oguta state constituency by beating APGA’s Walter Uzonwanne to a distant second.

In the midst of the euphoria, Imo’s fumbling Governor Okorocha handed PDP a big stick to beat him in public. Okorocha sacked all the 27 local government council chairmen and councillors he met on assumption of office on May 29, 2011, an illegitimate act robustly challenged in court by PDP’s lawyers.

In July, the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division handed the party a historic victory, nullifying the sack of the chairmen and councillors, a ruling that placed PDP on a moral high ground while reducing APGA and Okorocha to a bunch of anti-democratic adventurists with an ill-defined urge to pander to cheap popularity. How times change.

The Akobundu/Ihedioha partnership is Imo’s new game changer.  Both entered the political arena intellectually equipped and battle-ready. Akobundu, a former Army Signals Officer and immediate past National Ex-Officio member earned his political laurels in his home state Abia as a leader with integrity. Akobundu alone fought Governor Orji Uzor Kalu in Abia PDP’s 2003 primary election.

By  AMBROSE UWAKWE a commentator on national issues wrote from Mbaise, Imo State .


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