By  Clem Aguiyi

In 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, learnt the hard way when disillusioned Nigerians voted the party out of power. As if led by people under a spell, the party to the disappointment of many has not been effective as an opposition party either.

First, it allowed an All Progressives Congress, APC, mole to become the National Chairman of the party. The mission was to decapitate and destroy the party. This mission was a near fait-accompli but for the saving grace of God.

The same forces that foisted Ali Modu Sheriff on the party eventually shoved him aside and foisted Uche Secondus whose regime again was impervious to correction. Granted that APC has plunged Nigeria into bad shape and we all agree on that, but how on earth will an opposition party battling to redeem its tattered image and offer hope to Nigerians be engaging in hopeless indulgences or allow illegalities upon illegalities to characterize its inner sanctuary.

The Secondus’ leadership soon proved they were nothing but scavengers. The rumours of extortion and corruption grew from whispers to loud echoes. It became a common knowledge that you get nothing in the party without paying bribes. This again dampened the people’s spirit. Rather than grow, the people’s interest in the party waned considerably. When Secondus and his gang were eventually removed from office, nobody shed a tear. To many, their removal was a good riddance to a bad rubbish.

The removal of Secondus ushered in the leadership of Senator Iyorchia Ayu as consensus candidate from the North-Central. The new leadership raised some hopes due to the respect and the personality of Dr. Ayu commands. I have personally known Dr. Ayu from when he was the Chairman of ASUU in University of Jos to his opposition to the ill-fated contraption called Interim Government imposed by the then retreating President Ibrahim Babangida. Ayu was later to serve as the Minister of Education under the regime of General Sani Abacha and has held other high-profile positions. I must confess that I have personal likening for Ayu. I admired his Marxist intellectual background and found him a principled gentleman; hence I am not in a hurry to conclude that his leadership is another mistake even though I am noticing some avoidable foibles.  Some of his EXCO members has turned WADATA House into a casino, thereby creating undue and unnecessary crisis.

In any election where more than one person is contesting there is bound to be a winner and some losers. When the conduct of an election is free, fair and credible, it reduces rancour and becomes easier to mend fences.

When, for example, Peter Obi decamped from PDP to Labour Party, the reasons he advanced that prompted his defection coupled with the moral clarity of his messages to Nigerians placed a heavy burden on the PDP. In the South -East, for instance, despite the openness and transparency of the recently conducted and concluded presidential primary election which returned Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as winner, some people still believe the party treated the South-East zone immorally. There is something to learn from both the success of the presidential primary election and the decision of the party not to strictly zone the ticket to the South-East.

Some of the important lessons is the need for the party to adhere to their own rules, respect the wishes of the people and adhere to the dictates of democracy and not to be dictated to by a few individuals and compromised people who believe its either their way or the high way. That’s the kind of impunity that destroyed PDP in 2015, destroyed the Secondus-led administration and God forbid may destroy the current leadership of the party as there is no way the party will go into the 2023 election and wrestle power from APC with a divided house. A house that is divided against itself fails, hence certain acrimony like that brewing in Ebonyi State is needless and unnecessary and should be nipped in the bud.

The parties involved in this crisis should find a way to make peace and work together. If politics is about interest and not about permanent enemies, I believe an experienced leader like Senator Ayu can broker such peace that will find political solution without betraying his conscience, democracy and the rule of law.

Let me reiterate that while one recognises party supremacy, the party is bound by law to respect its own rules and regulations. A loser who participated in an election that was duly contested and conducted cannot in any good conscience turn around to seek cancellation or suspension of the said election simply because the outcome is not favourable. The outcome of an election sometimes creates upset which though may not be palatable to some but must be respected if that is the expressed wish of the people. In the case of Ebonyi State, 45-year-old billionaire Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii who will not be a parasite to the party was confirmed as the PDP’s flagbearer. The business mogul polled a total of 349 votes to defeat his closest rival, Chris Usulor, who scored nine votes.

The primary election took place at the PDP party secretariat in Abakiliki on Sunday May 29, 2022 as announced by the party.

The gubernatorial committee for Ebonyi State was appointed by the PDP National Working Committee with the specific mandate to conduct the primary election for the state, with Rotimi Olalekan as the Chairman.

The primary election was successfully conducted and the Chairman of the gubernatorial committee in declaring Chukwuma Odii as the winner said the exercise was free , fair , credible and transparent as it was done in the open. It wasn’t just the PDP gubernatorial committee that witnessed the election and turned in a positive result, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Police and DSS also monitored the election and have their reports on the election process and outcome. The PDP, therefore, should be proud for conducting a free, fair and transparent election. It’s shameful that some individuals who felt it must be their way or the highway turned around to now pressure the party to jettison a transparent exercise. They purport that the Publicity Secretary, working in concert with others who cared less about legality of their actions, suspended the election.

First, only the NWC which inaugurated and approved the date for the said primary election has the power to sit and suspend it. There were no indications that the NWC sat to agree to suspend the Ebonyi primary election. More so, the NWC cannot purport to suspend an action which has been completed. The NWC can cancel the outcome of the election if there were reported irregularities or contraventions to the provisions of its rules.

In this case, both the Ebonyi State PDP Gubernatorial Committee and INEC which monitored the election confirmed it was transparent and conducted in the open and in no less a place than the party secretariat.

On a final note, I wish to urge the National Chairman in particular to avoid falling into the trap of some intellectuals in politics. I wish to implore him to be guided by his conscience and the dictates of democracy and not to be dictated to by people who cannot accept politics is not just about them having their ways at all times. The best that can be done under the current circumstance is to bring the warring factions together and broker a political solution that will accommodate all interests within the party in the state.

Odii, the declared winner, is loved by the people; he has a cult followership and has over the years grown in influence through his unmatched philanthropy. He has the capacity to reclaim Ebonyi for PDP without being a parasite to the party. He is humble and respectful and open to work with all stakeholders and fathers of the party.

Aguiyi, a political analyst, wrote via: totalpolitics@ymail.com

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