By Clem Aguiyi
Ebonyi state ordinarily is a PDP State, thanks to the steadfastness of such elders and stakeholders like Dr Sam Egwu, Senator Pius Anyim and a host of others stalwarts who have remained faithful to the party despite all odds.
However, PDP’s hold on the state is diminishing following the unprovoked defection of the incumbent governor from the party that gave him so much to the center ruling APC along with some serving members of the House of Assembly.
Umahi’s defection from PDP is an unpardonable betrayal. His aim was to destroy the party out of his own self-fish interest. Since his defection, PDP is struggling to take back the state, and they can and should be able to, only if they can stop internal fighting and wrangling and unite against a common foe. But whereby they fail to resolve their differences and pose a united front, they may as well kiss Ebonyi good bye.
In writing this opinion, I wish to speak to the individual conscience of all the party elders in the state to use their position as elders , knowledge and talent to find political solution to their problems. I don’t think the Ebonyi PDP problems are intractable and I don’t see any reason why politicians in the state want to fight to the last man standing. That’s not the nature of politics or how politicians resolve issues.
From my investigation, it appears that some influential members of the party are frightened by 45 years old Dr Chukwuma Ifeanyi Odii as the party’s flag bearer, following his emergence in the primary election conducted on May 29, 2022. I think this fear is unfounded. Chukwuma is a team player who honor and respect elders. He will not betray the mandate or the party.
The election that produced Chukwuma as a candidate was conducted by a committee established by the PDP National Working Committee and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies. The primary was beamed live on national television, precisely African Independent Television (AIT). Rotimi Olalekan who led the committee that conducted the election declared the election to be free , fair, open and transparent. He accordingly declared 45 years old Chukwuma Ifeanyi Odii winner and returned as duly elected to fly the party’s flag.
At this point , mischief and intrigues that is now destroying the relative peace in the party surfaced. On the prompting of some influential stakeholders connected to WADATA House Abuja, the NWC directed the suspension of all primaries in the state including the primary that produced Dr. Odii as the PDP Gubernatorial candidate. When reminded that it cannot suspend a concluded exercise , the NWC turned around to declare that it has cancelled all the primary elections conducted in Ebonyi State by PDP. This is impunity and arrogance taken too far.
If Ebonyi PDP wants to wrestle power from APC in 2023 which is important that they do , their best bet is to field a candidate that is sure footed, formidable and courageous, a candidate who will not be a parasite on the party , and they do not look further than Dr Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii
I have heard various arguments against the gentleman, most of which does not hold any water. In this article I will address two of the often-repeated arguments among which are that the primary election conducted on Sunday May 30th2022 was marked by irregularities and the issue of zoning.
On the issue of irregularities: There is no substance in this as neither the reports of the Ebonyi PDP gubernatorial committee nor INEC or any of the security agencies that monitored the primary election reported irregularities or any breach of peace. In-fact, Rotimi Olalekan who led the Ebonyi State Gubernatorial Election Committee that returned Dr Chukwuma Odii as validly elected emphasized that the election was free, transparent and conducted in the open. Where then, did PDP NWC manufacture the report of irregularities from? It’s pathetic finding old men telling lies and unable to act according to the dictate of their conscience just because they have become compromised.
On the vexed issue of zoning: Zoning or rotation was not intended to be a permanent feature of our democracy but an ad-hoc arrangement to redress and compensate for imbalance in power sharing. It’s my understanding that all the three senatorial zones in Ebonyi have variously produced a governor from 1999 to date. If this is correct, then the issue of zoning becomes irrelevant and cannot stand against merit and competence. More so, in all previous elections in the state, persons from other zones have contested. So, the zoning argument is weak just like the allegation of irregularities were unfounded.
Since, the Ebonyi crisis came to my attention, I have made personal efforts to reach out to some major stakeholders in the state to encourage them to find political solution to the problem in the larger interest of the party. In the process, I have interacted with people in all the Senatorial Zones within the state .
I dare say that people’s problems are the same ; after the brutal rulership they went through in the past 7 years, what the people want is a leader with the fear of God and human sympathy. What they want is someone that understand their basic needs, someone who will create an enabling environment for prosperous economy; someone who will provide the kind of education that will enable them fit into the economy; someone who understand that they need jobs when they can be employed; someone who understands they need to be paid for works they have done, and that when they retire, they retire with respect and dignity; they want when they are sick to be able to go to a good hospital at affordable cost; they want to live in peace, safety and security.
The Chukwuma Odii that I know is humble, respectful and God fearing. He is a man that understands the basic needs of the people and these are what drives his ambition and interest in politics. As an individual he has done so much giving back to the society. His quest for political office is only to enable him do more for the people.
It’s unfortunate that a matter that would have been resolved as a family affair was allowed to become subject of litigations in court. Already there is a subsisting court order restraining both PDP and INEC from conducting any other primary election other than the primary election duly conducted on the 28th and 29th of May, 2022. Yet in flagrant defiance of the court order the NWC directed for conduct of another primary. This directive will only compound the crisis and orchestrate bigger crisis that may finally collapse the party. More so, the National Chairman must be reminded that he is not above the law as he risks contempt of court.
We may recall that on the 28th and 29th day of May, 2022, the National Working Committee of the PDP scheduled primary elections in Ebonyi State. The State Chapter of the party duly complied with that directives and conducted very transparent primaries, which were observed and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the security agencies and other relevant authorities. The elections were certified to be transparent.
On the Ebonyi crisis, PDP must thread with caution. This is important to avoid a repeat of what transpired in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections, on the side of the All Progressives Congress; and in Rivers State, on the part of the APC. Since the people have chosen their candidates, I urge the party leadership to toe the part of peace and justice.
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