By Vincent Ujumadu
GLOOMY faces greeted the first meeting of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stakeholders in Anambra State in Awka since the party lost the governorship election to the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. One could hear murmurs from aggrieved members, who without mincing words, were pointing accusing fingers at some of their members who were also seated there at the meeting in Awka.
Primarily, the meeting was to brief the stakeholders on the guidelines for the planned congresses of the party ahead of its national convention in December.
The meeting was attended by the governorship candidate of PDP in the November 18 election, Mr. Oseloka Obaze and his wife, Ofunne, as well as one of the governorship aspirants, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, secretary of the state caretaker committee, Iyom Josephine Anenih and very few members of the committee.
Conspicuously absent at the meeting was the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, as well as most of those who participated at the primary that produced Obaze. Also, many chieftains of the party did not show face, an indication that all is not well in the party.
Mrs. Anenih, who presided at the meeting, following the resignation of the chairman of the caretaker committee, Professor ABC Nwosu on Monday, pleaded with PDP members not to lament so much about the loss, reminding them that they could still regain the lost ground during the 2019 general elections.
She said: “The party does not belong to any individual. The party belongs to all of us. We all have equal right in the party. We have to start again and there is no better time to start than now. We want to move forward and build a strong, resilient party that will win elections in Anambra State. Some people were masquerading under PDP when they were actually working against the party, which was very unfortunate.
“We must say no to deceit. PDP has lost the Anambra governorship election and very soon those people who worked against the party will come back to tell us they are members of PDP. We must not allow them. We are going to lay a new foundation and anybody whose plan is to derail our programes must be shown the way out of PDP.
“The greatest honour we can do to our great leader, the late former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme is to rebuild PDP in Anambra State . We must therefore hold our congresses, which should be the first step forward.”
To Senator Margery Okadigbo, “If one does not like PDP, he is free to leave the party and form his own, instead of pretending to be a member of PDP and destroying it from within”. She recalled that it was her late husband, Senator Chuba Okadigbo that coined the slogan ‘power to the people’ because he believed that it is the people that own power.
Chief Frank Oramulu, a former state chairman of PDP observed that many members of PDP worked for APC and APGA during the election, adding that they have come back to pretend to be PDP members. “We knew how many of them worked. They even held rallies for APGA at Osumenyi and in Nnewi, but very soon, they will tell us that they are PDP stakeholders. After sabotaging our efforts, they will come back to start fighting for structure with us in PDP. You should listen only to our authentic leaders in PDP. The question is, why are we doing this to ourselves?”, he asked.
Former deputy chairman of the party, Mr. Ngozi Agudosi was very blunt in apportioning blames on why PDP did not do well in the governorship election, suggesting that the best solution to PDP problem in Anambra State was to go back to the drawing board and see how to move the party forward.
He said: “Even as we are talking of congresses, some people who call themselves stakeholders have already compiled list of their cronies as party officials. In fact, we have it in good authority that some of the people being listed as officials of the PDP in Anambra State are loyalists of the state governor, which means that the governor of this state will be controlling PDP, in addition to controlling his party, APGA. If that happens, PDP will not have any chance during the national assembly election in 2019,
“What PDP needs is true reconciliation because without reconciliation, we won’t have a party. And I want to challenge members of the National Caretaker Committee that if they want PDP in Anambra to succeed, they should suspend the congresses and listen to the leaders of the party.
“For instance, Iyom Josephine Anenih cannot assume the position of the state chairman following the resignation of the chairman of the state caretaker committee, Professor A.B.C. Nwosu. The party did not even want to find out why he resigned. We cannot jettison somebody like ABC Nwosu in this party. Something is wrong somewhere. The proper thing is that once the chairman of the caretaker committee resigns, the entire committee stands dissolved because the members are not elected and they do not have the mandate of the people. So to me, the idea of issuing guidelines for the congresses is a charade.
“And trust our people, if they discover that the remaining members of the caretaker committee are going ahead with the congresses, court injunctions will start flowing from all the corners soon.
“Even the caretaker committee is divided. There is one faction led by the former majority leader in the state House of Assembly, Mr. Humphrey Nsofor and there is one led by Professor ABC Nwosu, who has resigned. So there is no caretaker committee of PDP in Anambra State in the strict sense of it.
“In this gathering of stakeholders, there are only three members of the caretaker committee out of 30. Does that mean we are moving forward or going backwards? “I spoke to most of the caretaker committee members and they said they would not attend the meeting because it would not yield anything. It is unfortunate that somebody somewhere is manipulating the process and with this we cannot rebuild the party.”
At a stage during the meeting, it was obvious that the anger of many people in attendance could no longer be controlled as they were prepared to start mentioning names of people who allegedly worked for APGA during the election.
For instance, when a member of the state House of Assembly was given the microphone to speak, he shouted the PDP slogan and there was thunderous shout of ‘APGA’, a sign that he worked for APGA during the governorship election. In fact, due to objections from the audience, he could not speak and he was forced to sit down. Unable to bear the humiliation, he left the scene immediately and was booed as he was leaving. The feeling of the people was that he was among hundreds of PDP chieftains that worked against the party during the Anambra governorship election
A female leader of PDP also received the same treatment when she rose to address the audience. Once she shouted PDP, the response from the people was ‘UPP’, indicating that she worked for UPP during the election. At that stage, the meeting almost became chaotic and further speeches were suspended.
A governorship aspirant, Dr. Obiogbolu who came second at the governorship primary, expressed disgust at the role played by many PDP members during the election. He said: “As a Christian, I always believe that the will of God should be done. I must not be governor before contributing to the development of my state. We know some of our members who were given money for campaign, only to work for another party. God in heaven sees the heart of men and God has the final say in everything.”
The PDP candidate, Oseloka Obaze, who rounded off the speeches, commended those who worked genuinely for PDP during the election. He said: “Power comes from God and that is why I am at peace with myself after what happened. It is a new dawn and I believe we can make the party stronger. The party does not belong to any individual. The power belongs to the people and the umbrella is big for everybody. We must take ownership of this party. Our leaders must respect the wishes of the people.
“There are those who are generally aggrieved and those who are pretending to be aggrieved. PDP has the structure, having been in power for 16 years at the centre and I believe that if we are united, the party will return to the winning ways.
“We should not forget that even up to the last general elections in 2015, PDP had always won the national assembly seats in Anambra State, which is an indication that it is well- rooted at the grass root level.”