By Emma Nnadozie
Deacon Okey Ogbodo is a household name in the polities of Enugu State having been around in major political positions since the advent of the 4th republic. He was commissioner for Budget and Planning, Finance and later Lands. He was touted as the next chairman of the People’s Democratic Party in the state about a year ago, until some unseen superior forces ensured it didn’t happen. He remained an unhappy member of the PDP after that disappointment, and so, it was easy for APC strategists to lure him, indeed draft him into the party to seek to end the part’s dismal pedigree in elections in the coal city state since inception.
The APC stalwarts, particularly in Abuja, did not just want Ogbodo to be member, but bring his famed political sagacity to bear on the party in the state, as head of the state Executive. However, Ogbodo and his band of loyalists have not found things as easy as projected, having run into stormy waters since the ill fated last congress of the party in the state. He asserts he was duly elected chairman, but pioneer state chairman Dr. Ben Nwoye, counter- claimed, insisting he remained the part chairman, having apparently been endorsed by the Oyegun regime.
Ogbodo spoke to Sunday Vanguard in Enugu and maintained, among other things, that he was the authentic chairman of APC in Enugu State. Excerpts:
It does appear there are two parallel state executive committees of APC in Enugu, how did that come to be?
I do not agree, there is only one state executive committee of the party headed by me. Anybody else parading himself as chairman will soon realise he is making a false claim.
What actually happened?
The stage was set at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium for the state congress; delegates were accredited and voting completed. Some people who sensed they were going to lose, as the counting of votes was concluded, left the venue, and in their desperation, took the result sheets along. The congress was concluded and the result known, but does running away with result sheets nullify results of an open congress? From this account, do you honestly believe two excos have emerged? The answer is NO!
What do you think brought about the anger of the disgruntled members?
I would never know for certain, but it is obvious that some people who had held down the fortune of the party since inception are desperate to continue. It is only in this clime that those who lead their political parties even to consecutive defeats wouldn’t bulge. Since the emergence of APC, these people have not managed to win even a councillorship election, yet are desperate to continue. But the masses who own the party say no, and are ready to bring about a change. That change is the executive committee headed by me.
You went to court before the other claimant to chairmanship received the certificate of return, what is the position of your litigation?
That is the reason I told you I am the authentic, indeed the only legally authorized chairman of APC in Enugu. We have a valid and subsisting court order, which was disobeyed. They were duly served, but being desperate people, they went ahead to take an action which was clearly in contravention of the injunctive order of court, which is yet to be discharged. I am aware there is an established system for courts to deal with people who have no respect for court orders. The process is on.
You are in APC now, what do you think lies ahead for the party not only in the South-East, but also across the region in the coming elections?
I am optimistic, and so many party faithful are, that his Excellency, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, will steady the ship of APC very soon. He is a mobilizer par excellence, and tested organizer of men and materials. The current crisis in APC was deliberately foisted on the party by the retreating Oyegun executive as a show of frustration after a failed self-succession attempt. But a Daniel has come to judgement. Our party, the APC, deserves a better leadership. We have to respect the right of the people as demonstrated at that state congress in Enugu. President Buhari deserves the benefit of politicians and tested party administrators to expect and indeed guarantee a change of electoral fortune next year in the national elections. I have utmost confidence in the capacity of our new national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to put things right and ensure the enthronement of internal democracy as was the case during our congress.