By John Mgbe
It is heartwarming to hear that the PDP has suddenly come to terms with its mistakes which cost it the presidential election in particular and the governorship elections in most states including Imo. The national body of the PDP has already apologized to Nigerians on its numerous fumbling and bungling which culminated in its disastrous outing in that poll. In Imo State, we are expecting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to tender unreserved apology to Imo electorate who felt disappointed at the poor performance of the PDP in the 12 years it ruled Imo State. At a time like this, what should be uppermost in the consciousness of the PDP members is the need to enter into critical synergy with one another in order to get back to its winning ways. Having lost the election in Imo State in a very humiliating and shambolic manner and having lost its Governorship petition in all three courts (Tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court) on technicalities, the PDP members should wear sack cloth and show a sense of penitence and remorse for betraying the hopes of the electorate who turned out en-masse to actualize its victory in the poll, especially the Guber poll.
At this juncture, I wish to express my grouse over the recent exchange of hostile viewpoints between two media professionals in Imo State. The two analysts are Mike Nwachukwu and Amby Uneze whose articles were published in the Nigerian Horn newspaper of October 28-29th and the THISDAY newspaper of 20th October, 2015 respectively. Mike Nwachukwu’s article is a rejoinder to the one earlier written by Amby Uneze. It is pathetic that both media professionals descended to the arena as they tried hard to defend the roles played by their two principals in the PDP both before and after the 2015 polls. The time is not auspicious for such libertarian concept (say the truth and be damned) of journalism, more so at a time the PDP should be wearing sack cloth and licking its self-inflicted defeat in both the governorship and House of Assembly elections. Rather than engage in such incendiary and inflammatory analyses, those who have sympathy for the PDP should assist the party to ascertain the reasons for its very poor performance in that poll. The pertinent questions are: “How did PDP in Imo State which scored over 80% in the presidential poll, 100% in the senatorial poll and 80% in the House of Assembly poll, suddenly perform so abysmally that it lost the governorship poll and succeeded in winning only six out of the 27 seats in the state legislature in the election held just two weeks after the presidential and National Assembly election. What factors were responsible for the poor performance of the PDP in the poll? Why did the well packaged and iron-clad evidence which the PDP/Ihedioha legal team put up collapse like a house of cards on the grounds of technicalities? Why did the PDP become so torn apart at a time they needed to pull resources together? In the state today, about three factional groups have sprung up from the ashes of governorship defeat of the PDP, all claiming to represent the authentic PDP. Is it not shocking that just two days after the supreme Court defeat of PDP on Thursday,19th October, 2015 a faction of the PDP went to launch their platform in a public event in a part of the state capital. The pertinent question is: “Were these people celebrating, bemoaning or mourning the defeat of the PDP in the Supreme Court?
These are the sort of analyses we expect from our commentators at a time when the emphasis is on a turnaround template for the PDP in order to enable it to start running again. It was wrong for Mike Nwachukwu and Amby Uneze to embark on a spate of analysis which intent was allegedly to tarnish the reputation of two chieftains of the PDP in Imo State, thus putting them on a collision course. Most of us who are media professionals are not in partisan politics. As technocrats and professionals, we should keep our heads when politicians are losing theirs. The fact that we have sympathy for some party or politician should not make us to continue to fan the embers of acrimony, discord and enmity among our political class. Unlike politicians who see everything from political binoculars, we must rise above mundane comments which intent is to massage the ego of some politician, more so, at a time when we are not in an electioneering mode. We should use our agenda setting role to bring our battle-weary politicians from the contagion of swashbuckling to the ambience of compassion, love, group cohesiveness and rapprochement.
In spite of the intra-party crises and travails of the PDP which culminated in its surprise defeat in the Governorship and State Assembly polls in Imo State, the state cannot continue to be in an electioneering mode for four years. There is no gainsaying the fact that in the PDP today in Imo State, each zone has its apex leaders who must be given their due cognizance if the PDP must reinvent itself. In Orlu zone, we have the like of the bubbling Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chief Achike Udenwa and several others; in Okigwe zone, we have Chief Ikedi Ohakim and the others; while in Owerri zone, we have the inimitable and irrepressible Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and others. The defection of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume to the Governor Okorocha-led All Progressives Congress (APC) has defused the interminable conflict in the Okigwe zone of the PDP. It is pertinent to emphasize that while addressing members of his political party at the Onitsha Road secretariat of his political campaign Organization, Senator Ararume said: “My partnership with Governor Okorocha is a lifetime relationship”. He went ahead to say that he was through with PDP and that he would have nothing to do with the party again. His decision to dump PDP appears to be a good augury for the party as it tries to restructure and turnaround the party.
There is a need to concur with some of the observations made by both Mike Nwachukwu and Amby Uneze; it’s just that time is not auspicious for such analyses, especially the one that makes a direct criticism of any of the PDP chieftains. In Imo State, we also expect the PDP to make a profuse apology to assuage our grouse over the cavalier and perfunctory approach to issues in the last poll which culminated in its defeat in the governorship poll. The splinter groups that have emerged from the PDP in IMO state since the Supreme Court judgment is worrisome as it does not augur well for the much anticipated turnaround of the PDP. It is our hope that the chieftains of the PDP in Imo State must come together in an ambience of conviviality in order to put the past behind them for the sake of their teeming faithfuls who feel betrayed on account of present realities. There is a need to remind our media professionals that at a time like this we should do more of developmental journalism instead of the so-called Libertarian Theory of Journalism (aka “write and be damned”).We need a very strong opposition political platform if our state should be pulled back from the brink of a bottomless chasm and the PDP appears to be that opposition party.
Finally, I must emphasize that the circumstances that culminated in the defeat of the PDP in the last election are both endogenous and indigenous. They will be discussed in the fullness of time. The most important factor is the prevalence of impunity in the PDP. The PDP committed blunders when it failed to comply with Chapter 8(9) of its Constitution. The section says:”There shall be a minimum of two year membership span for a member to be eligible to stand for election in any public office, unless the appropriate executive committee gives a waiver or rules to the contrary. It was very fatal for the PDP to have allowed the returnees to the PDP in 2014 or thereabout to participate in the 2015 Governorship race. Such people would have been shut out of the elective offices, especially the governorship race. There would not have been any justification for any waiver because those who were already in the race were people of very high integrity. Just think of the like of Emeka Ihedioha who had spent 12 years in the House of Representatives and the No. 6th person in the country; Ikedi Ohakim who was former state governor; Barrister Njemanze (SAN); Professor Jude Okere, former Vice Chancellor of the prestigious Federal University of Technology (FUTO) and others. With such a galaxy of high grade contestants, it was not necessary to use waiver to bring any other person in the governorship race. I wrote a viewpoint on that at the time but I was talking to the deaf. That mistake destroyed PDP 2015 Governorship Agenda. Again, the state leadership of the PDP was weak and comatose as they could not rise to the occasion. They did not possess the wherewithal to run the bureaucracy of such a big political party. It is hoped that as the PDP goes into another congress for the election of its leaders in the state (EXCO), they must search for people of integrity who can take hard decisions without minding whose ox is gored. I will elaborate elsewhere. As we wait on the PDP restructuring agenda to take off, it is hoped that the PDP will emulate the example of the national body and tender profuse apologies to their faithful in Imo State.