In the year 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State was an institutionalized party with reasonable level of public confidence. Therefore, it then won governorship seat in the State with Chief Achike Udenwa as its Governor. In 2003, Udenwa was re-elected for a second under the same party.
In 2007, Engr. Charles Ugwu was anointed by Udenwa’s political structure called the Redemption ’98 to fly PDP flag for that year’s election but his nomination was nullified by the Supreme Court courtesy of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume’s suit. Ararume then was not in Udenwa’s structure. Ararume was among the so called ‘Abuja’ Structure that finally controlled PDP in the state. Finally, in 2007, Udenwa’s faction nicknamed ‘Onongono’ worked against its own PDP to produce Ikedi Ohakim as Governor from the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA). Nevertheless, before the end of Ohakim’s tenure, he joined the PDP and later contested for a second term in 2011 as a PDP candidate and lost to Owelle Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) who is currently in charge the state’s administration.
However, for me, PDP as an institution last won Imo Governorship Election in 1999. That was 13 years ago. Let me prove my case. In 2003, Udenwa was able to get re-elected because of his ‘Onongono’ group. When the PDP doubted this feat, the same structure again proved it in 2007 by going outside PDP to have Ohakim produced as Governor from PPA. When Ohakim doubted the potency of this same structure, what remained of it also plotted for his defeat and it worked for Rochas of the APGA. The rest today is story.
Nevertheless, part of story today is that Udenwa introduced a peculiar type of politics which is the bane of partisan politics in Imo today. That is introducing structure within a party and making that structure stronger than the party. Many politicians in the state have also consciously and unconsciously tried to imbibe this type of politics. Ararume used his Destiny Structure in 2007 but it could not make him win the governorship election that year. Ohakim also tried to copy the style by instituting the New Face. But when the heat of his re-election started, because his New Face was an arrangement on the short run, he tactically abandoned it and set up a PDP he could manipulate as his one and only structure. The rest today is history.
Currently Governor Rochas Okorocha is also using Udenwa’s style whereby he has made his Agenda Structure a preferred child to APGA. Today, APGA in Imo cannot stand as an institution. As a party, it cannot control its members occupying public offices or make inputs in a government supposedly run in its name. The party is also completely tied to the Governor’s apron strings begging for relevance and the Governor has smartly refused to give it that desired relevance. Most of the Governor’s men do not even identify with the party or sponsor it. Till the time of this write-up, I can’t even remember the name of its current state chairmen unless I make a research. Generally, nobody knows what plans the Governor has for the party for the time being or in future. The rest is not yet part of history but will one day be.
Having worked under Ohakim’s government, I could be termed a PPA member because I worked under a PPA government. I could also be called a PDP man because Ohakim carpet-crossed to the PDP midway in his regime. I could also be said to be an APGA man because I am to do a consultancy job for an APGA led government in Imo State. However, for this write-up, like William Shakespeare, I have only ‘…come to bury Caesar not to praise him..’ because ‘…the evil that men do live with them and the good is oft interred with their bones…’.
In his doctrine of Checks and Balances, Sir Baron Lois De Montesquieu, said this; ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Therefore, one power should be made to check another’. Therefore, any society that does not have checks and balances in its system is likely to suffer dictatorial and autocratic governance.
One of the instruments that checks abuse of power in a democratic system is political parties that are not in control of government. In a more liberal system, the party in control of government if well positioned can also provide checks against its members in government. Be that as it may, the current PDP in Imo State lost in the last governorship election. However, the party still has their man as the president of this country. Coming to Imo State, the party also has majority in the Senate, House of Representatives and a reasonable number elected into the State House of Assembly. But to my surprise, the party seems to be sleeping as far as opposition is concerned. A typical example is the humiliation the party is suffering after the Appeal Court ordered that its sacked local government chairmen be re-instated. Is it that nemesis has caught up with the party in Imo? Instead, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and other parties who are in the minority seem to be more pronounced in opposition against the government of the day in Imo State. In as much as PDP lost the gubernatorial race in the state, it should not be a reason why the party should become impotent. It should even be the reason why it should get stronger and more organized. When I flip through the pages of the newspapers, I see more of ACN press statements trying to put government of the day on its toes. Even the one-man- riot squad of ANPP in the state looks more vibrant in its opposition activities. May be PDP still thinks that Rochas will one day, carpet-cross to its party as Ohakim did. No way! ‘One cannot eat his cake and still have it’. I know Rochas very well. He is one of the smartest politicians in Imo State. He must have gotten enough experience from losing almost all the elections he contested in his life. Having followed him closely for a very long time, I can correctly predict him. If you watch, most of the things he does in Imo today are anti-PDP in nature. Most of his policies are to discredit PDP and its style of governance. So it will be foolish for any right thinking person to think that Rochas will one day join PDP.
The fact remains that Rochas has already started gunning for re-election as Imo governor come 2015. Time will vindicate me as usual. I know that Imo PDP is not used to opposition because they have always been in government enjoying. The greatest problem the party has suffered in the state is internal crises. Too much ‘dribbling’ has subjected the party in the state to public contempt. You know, when a master dribbler dribbles every opponent in the field of play, if he does not see any person more to dribble, he may be tempted to start dribbling its teammates and may end up dribbling himself also to score an own goal. Selfishness, greed, indiscipline, insincerity, injustice, lack of internal democracy etc have destroyed the party in Imo. Whether we like it or not, some members of the Imo public see Imo PDP in bad light. Such things like election rigging and slogans like PDP!! Share the money!!! are associated with the party in the state. It is not like that with the party in states likeEnugu, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Delta etc. It is an enigma that needs to be addressed. But unfortunately, the party has still refused to address this problem till date. In 1999, Imo PDP was a darling to many. I quite agree that the party has a lot of big heads and as we know, the bigger the head, the bigger the headache. But still, I have looked at all the political parties in the state. Respectfully, it is still the same PDP that has what looks like a party that can be re-organized and re-positioned for good. This is because it seems to have the structure and the resources. The problem is that in Imo, its structure and resources are most at times used negatively against the progress.
Therefore, Imo PDP just like any other party that wants to progress needs a good leadership that is not tied to the apron strings of politicians or public office holders. I mean leadership that can make a party an institution like how it is now in the ACN of the western part of the country or what Ogbonnaya Onu is trying to do in All Nigeria Peoples party (ANPP). PDP also needs to reconcile its former members who have some grouse with the party. It was the ‘re-conciliation’ and sense of belonging given to aggrieved former PDP members that moved to ACN that made the PDP win in the last re-run election for Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency seat. This should be a tit for tat. If these are more challenges are not addressed, 2015, like other years, will definitely be another year of doom for the party. This is because he who is now in charge is politically shrewd and greater than what is assumed. I am done.
Submitted By Barr Emperor Iwuala