By COLLINS Ughalaa
Before I continue with this second part of this series started few days ago, let me first of all thank the leadership of the Makarfi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the meeting they held at the residence of Hon Ezenwa Onyewuchi, and Hon Ezenwa Onywuchi himself for standing in the gap and proving to all that after all the PDP remains a roaring lion.
Fact remains that the Sunday meeting has demonstrated that the PDP still enjoys the support of the people and remains a crowd puller. No doubt, but there are issues to that Sunday meeting. One of the outcomes of the Sunday meeting is that it should afford the leaders of the Makarfi faction, and indeed the entire PDP family in Imo State, the golden opportunity of self-examination. The PDP should not be deluded with the crowd that showed up even at short notice. The crowd shows the people are ready. But are the leaders ready?
It is not enough gathering a crowd of people to an event. It is more important managing the crowd to achieve a given task, and this is where I see the greater work for the Makarfi group and the entire PDP in Imo. If the crowd I saw at the Sunday meeting can work to discredit Okorocha, because you cannot by actions and utterances destroy your party and at the same time want to install a new governor on the same platform, then the crowd could serve some purpose. When you are not taking the bull by the horn and oppose the government in power and you are not telling the people the truth they want to hear, on what basis would you want to install a new governor?
Take for example the major issue of the Sunday meeting, Governor Achike Udenwa who spoke on the Plan B for the Makarfi group was Governor of Imo State for 8 years, what has he said about the Okorocha government? In 2012 budget, Governor Okorocha said he gave Achike Udenwa a house. It was written in black and white and delivered in the public, on the floor of the House. What has Udenwa said about it? The whole Nigeria, including Achike Udenwa, knows that Okorocha did not give him any house. But has Udenwa said that Okorocha told a lie against him? Imo people and Nigerians in general want to know what Udenwa’s problem has become, that he cannot stand toe to toe with Okorocha and defend his name.
Udenwa as a two term Governor and the first Imo man to become Governor on the PDP platform, and the only PDP man to do full terms of 8 years, remains the biggest beneficiary of the PDP platform. But what has he done for the PDP after he left office? Instead in 2010 he jumped ship and embraced the ACN. From ACN he formed APC with Rochas. I can remember very well that the Governor raised his hands after a meeting at the Government House as the leader of the party in Imo State. If Achike Udenwa had advised his followers to remain in the PDP and show some more gratitude, the PDP wouldn’t have been destroyed today in Imo, and Udenwa wouldn’t have been talking about getting power back from an opposition Governor through the Plan B.
Up to now many people in Imo State still do not understand why Udenwa jumped ship in 2010 after ruling for 8 years as Governor. But recall that Ohakim’s administration was made up of about 80% of Udenwa boys, but because of what seems to be more of personal feeling or mere power jealousy, which leadership could have assisted someone to overcome, they ganged up and destroyed the PDP. Not done, the Udenwa group played very crucial role in the making of Governor Okorocha and sold him as a good man to Imo people. It is now the duty of Udenwa and others to tell Imo people that what they sold to them was bad product. It is on that honest point that a good and meaningful journey can commence.
No matter what anyone thinks, current developments in the state have shown that Ohakim is a factor no one can ignore as far as the governorship election of Imo State is concerned. This is outside the logic of whether he runs and wins or not. Truth is that it could be suicidal for anyone to dream of installing good governance through the PDP and at the same seek to destroy Ohakim. The reason is that the PDP has two former governors who served for 12 years and they are both alive. If the PDP must regain power it must be able to seriously defend its 12 years of governing Imo State and not look at the two years in the persons of Ohakim and Udenwa and seek to destroy any. The 12 years were PDP years in Imo State. And if the PDP is not proud to defending the 12 years rule but are happy to destroy them on their own, then they must open up and tell us what Ohakim did that were wrong. Did Ohakim score up to 80% on his programmes that had long gestation period? Did Ohakim work for the mob or the masses? Did he not create job when the economy was bad, so that money could circulate? And today, many of those who gathered at the PDP meeting were the same people that deceived the masses against the party in 2010/2011.
Imo people are happy that once again the PDP can show its teeth and roar lime a lion, but unfortunately the PDP is not striking the right cord. Looking at 2015 elections, most of the leaders I saw at the meeting did not deliver their wards and local governments. They did not deliver their zone to the party for Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha. The only zone where the PDP won was Okigwe. From the analysis I have done, Ohakim’s Umunnuma polling booth in Okohia Isiala Mbano LGA of Imo State scored the highest number of votes in Imo State. Anybody can make claims buts facts remain what they are, but the result of the last election has demonstrated what the people really think about their leaders.
Agreed that election in most of the places were rigged in 2015 against the PDP, but if someone claims he is a leader and someone else comes to rig election in his booth, ward, LGA and zone, is that one still a leader? Udenwa was the Campaign Director for Jonathan in Imo State for the 2015 presidential election, and with all the money available to him the PDP did not win in Amaifeke and Orlu LGA where he comes from and resides, let alone the whole of Orlu Zone. What magic is he going to perform leading the new move, considering that is four years older by 2019, and especially with the belief that he does not spend money?
The PDP should not lose sight of the fact the crowd I saw at the meeting at Representative Ezenwa Onyewuchi’s house was not all there is to win an election. It is important too to manage the crowd to achieve something. PDP is a party that prides itself with somebody like Chief Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, but today what we see is that the ruling APC in Imo State make caricature of him. They now use him as a piece of cloth to decorate the tables at public functions anytime they have functions. And Iwuanyanwu has never made any comment against Rochas in public, at least not one I have read, yet he is the leader of the opposition PDP in Imo State. What we see when we watch AIT is the advertisement from Rochas where Iwuanyanwu is praising him, yet he has never issued a rebuttal to any of them.
Apart from Iwuanyanwu, recently, elected House of Reps members under the PDP Makarfi have taken the inglorious roles of sounding Okorocha’s trumpet. They are now free to invite Okorocha and his officials to their functions where they praise the Governor for doing wonderful things in Imo. In a serious party, no matter the nomenclature, such temerity would be considered anti-party and earned the individual serious sanctions. But these days the PDP Reps hide under the excuse they were representing the entire constituency. Is Rep Jerry Alagbaoso representing the Imo State Government House? Because he too invited the state government led by Okorocha to his functions where he praised Okorocha to the heavens, and right there the government asked him to quickly join APC. The same goes for Rep Nnanna Igbokwe, who invited APC officials to his functions. And his excuse was that he was returning a favour to the Governor. Then we have Rep Obinna Onwubuariri who opened the floodgate of this shameful abdication of functions when he invited Uche Nwosu as Quest of Honour to his function. He spoke glowingly of Okorocha to the point the people booed him. The question is: how can the Makarfi or the entire PDP chase Okorocha out or defeat his anointed when they are constantly praising him?
Following the scenario, one is tempted to ask if the PDP is really gathering for something serious or just to display their crowd? Has the party reverted their mind in the past to see that their actions and utterances were the reasons Imo is where it is today? And are they making any effort for change or repeating the same or doing worse mistakes? Since they marketed Rochas as the best in 2011 and Ohakim as the bad, and also worked to make him Governor in 2015 despite the effort the party leaders made to ensure that the governorship ticket went to Owerri Zone, suppose Ohakim plays smart politics today and decides to do what they did before and moves to join Rochas? One thing the PDP might not be aware of is that Rochas is moving into Ohakim to seek a closure, if care is not taken. If Ohakim decides to play the spoiler as they did before, he could embrace Rochas for whatever it is worth, even for proving a point. If it's consummated they would produce the next governor and Ohakim could be sure that all his entitlements as former governor are paid to him. And of course, this could mean that all the meetings the PDP is holding would have been rubbished. Again, if all Dick and Harry moves away and joins another party, who would challenge Rochas?
The Makarfi faction of the PDP in Imo State is blessed hugely but they have their woes too. They have two former Deputy Governors and a former Governor. They have at least two BoT members of the party. They have the only Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps. They have serving house of reps members. They have ID Nwoga, Ambrose Ejiogu, Prof Njoku, etc, but what seems to be their strength has become their obvious weakness. For example, why is it that in the whole of the South East it is only in the PDP in Imo State that one hears about two factions of Makarfi and Sheriff, so much that they have left the enemy and are shooting themselves and biting with venom like the viper? If the leadership of the two factions are anything I think they should be more interested in seeking avenues to unite instead of fighting each other, as if doing so would win them the elections they so desire.
It is better to give this advice to the PDP than sing along with so many others, when I know that for us to have good governance entrenched in our state we need a credible opposition. This advice is more needed given that we have had the PDP for 12 years and APC for 8 years (so to say) and Imo people are in a better position to judge which one is better. This advice is also necessary at this time because from my interactions with the people at the grassroots Imo people are waiting for the PDP, and if they fail again this time around, that would be the end of their political careers. Because looking at the average age of the leaders I saw at the PDP meeting, the 2019 move could be their last outing before they retire or they are retired. And it would be very sad that they are going to be retired and not retiring on their own, if they did not strike the right cord. The PDP in Imo State should stop fighting and do the right things and inspire the people to the right actions.
The PDP leaders should re-evaluate and know whether the kind of candidate they are going to present in 2019 would win the election or not. They should also know that what is important in Imo State now, according to public opinion, is not just about removing Rochas and getting power back from the current occupiers of the government house, but who would be capable of recovering the lost assets of the state. When considering the governorship candidate, is the PDP looking for someone to bring money and share to them or someone that would defeat Rochas and his anointed candidate?
If the leaders are really living up to the expectations of their positions, have they conducted a survey to known what the people really want? The leaders should go beyond the politics of transport money and become a bit scientific in their leadership roles. If they cannot do this, I am afraid that they have got it wrong, because if the type of crowd I saw is rightly mobilized and the right people are picked to run for the various offices, the PDP would move in one direction.
Beyond this, Imo people would want to see the PDP engage the Governor on issues. It is inexplicable that the Governor has destroyed the entire 27 local governments without any election for six years now and the PDP is not talking. Eze Ilomuanya has defeated Governor Okorocha for the 9th time and the Governor has refused to obey the order of court of competent jurisdiction, yet the PDP is not talking, no statement? The Governor has destroyed the Master Plan, opening 8-lane roads that end nowhere, bringing more floods, yet no comment from the PDP. Not even when house owners were rendered homeless! It is really curious that a PDP meeting of such magnitude ended without any serious public policy statement. The Governor is owing the judiciary workers, including judges, for 10 months, yet the PDP is calm as if all is well. Now, all the PDP is exerting energy on is destroying a faction of their own party and declaring intention to form a new party or join existing one.
What is the PDP really waiting for? Who will challenge Okorocha for them? Many people I spoke too said they do not see how joining a new party would deliver the government house to the new group if the right things are not done. From the information I have, Uche Nwosu, the man rumoured to be the Governor’s anointed for the 2019 governorship election, has inaugurated his Ugwumba Movement across the state and they are busy recruiting and strategizing. What is the PDP doing? What are those interested in the elections doing? What is the essence of the PDP meeting if nothing concrete is done?
If you asked me, the 2019 battle is not what the Sheriff faction can go alone. It is not what the Makarfi faction can go alone. So no one should exhibit the air of victory over another. The 2019 battle is not for any political party to go alone. It is impossible, because I have been told by some people that the Governor can do anything to ensure he got what he wants in 2019. And if you look at the recent actions of the Governor whenever he received important dignitaries such as the Prelate of the Methodist Church, you would see he has turned to lamentation. This is a serious sign that he is no longer on the same page with the people. But what I see in both Makarfi and Sheriff factions is that some people have shared positions already without a primary election and they are willing to protect it like udara. This attitude scares people from the party.
It is bad strategy to have a political gathering of such magnitude and not talk about opposing Rochas. Because if the leaders are not talking, there is nothing the followers would say. Imo people want to hear what Iwunayanwu is saying about Rochas. Imo people want to know what Ambrose Ejiogu is saying about Rochas. Imo people want to hear what Achike Udenwa, a former Governor of 8 years, is saying about Rochas. Don’t forget that the way Okorocha is rubbishing Ohakim is the same way he is rubbishing Udenwa’s regime. Imo people want to hear what Nyaehie and George Ego are saying about Rochas.
Where is Dr. Alex Obi today? Why is he not talking? Where is Iwuanyanu? Why did the PDP not win Ikeduru in 2015? Why did the PDP not win Amaifeke and Orlu LGA where Udenwa comes from? Why did the PDP lose in Anyaehie’s ward? We wouldn’t be talking the way we are talking if these ills did not happen. And I am very much afraid that all the factors responsible for them are still much around and active. It is a pity if the PDP believes that keeping quiet and believing that Rochas is rubbishing only Ohakim or fighting among themselves, will earn them the Government House. And if they think that keeping quiet is the solution, then they should see the end from the beginning.
And in the next week I expect that Udenwa should open up and protect his regime. Iwuanyanwu should rise up and speak on leadership. Prof Njoku should rise up and speak on Agriculture, Environment and Education. Nwoga should speak on Environment. Anyaehie and Ezekwem should speak on rule of law. Where are Senator Christi Anyanwu, Chief Austin Cosmas, Rt Hon Maxwel Duru, Engr Emeka Ekwebelem, Barr Chris Okewulonu, Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu and his wife? Imo people want then to hear them, because it is ineffective to hear a few people or one person talking. The need for this is that those who have the courage to face the Government are the people Imo State needs, because you must show your credentials before Imo people accepts you as the alternative to Rochas.