The fireworks have begun to play out in the Anambra State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. It is election season and as usual, elements of confusion and destabilization, the same demons that have given the party the toga of the largest party that never wins election in the State, are at work already.
Every election year since 2003, PDP loses governorship elections in the State, not because of the superior popularity or acceptance of other parties in the race, but more because of the antiparty activities of its members, which does not only leave the party bruised and battered but also sabotages its winning chances.
The same demons are already doing what they know best. Unnecessary and frivolous factions have emerged, each with its own leader and each leader peacocking as an emperor, but indeed without an empire. While other parties are putting their houses in order for this year’s governorship election, Anambra PDP is doing the reverse. As usual, party members are busy tearing the party apart in inglorious pursuits of selfish ambitions. Time is running out and if this self destruction continues into the election, history will unfortunately repeat itself. The party and its members will as usual become losers at the end of the day and will have unwittingly worked for the victory of another party, yet again.
Who or what will exorcise the party of these familiar demons? Can the party wield the big stick and call its members to order? Can members of the party in the State for once since 2003, elevate the interest of the party above their grandstanding? Can collective wisdom prevail over individual idiocy? Can the party and its members see the light that has suddenly blazed at the end of the tunnel? In the absence of pride and arrogance, this sudden light can guide their feet out of their peculiar mess.
Yes, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel, which fortunately for the party, has proved to be the best way forward. On the 9th of June, 2021, an Abuja High Court presided over by Hon. Justice O. A. Adeniyi, affirmed the position of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba as the Acting Chairman of the Anambra PDP Caretaker Committee. This judgement has put to rest the accusations and counter accusations of usurpation of powers, which is the most recent of the wranglings that have engulfed the party and had dragged since 2017, when Professor A. B. C. Nwosu resigned as the chairman of the party in the State.
Before Professor Nwosu resigned, the State was preparing for its congresses and in order to forestall power vacuum and move ahead with the congresses, the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the party, in a letter signed by the Secretary of the NCC, High Chief, Senator Ben Ndi Obi, quickly appointed the State Vice Chairman, Sir Chukwudi Umeaba, as the Chairman, Anambra State PDP Caretaker Committee.
On the strength of this appointment and in compliance with the terms of reference therein contained in his letter of appointment, Sir Umeaba and his Committee conducted Ward and Local Government Congresses in the State, with the exception of three Local Government Areas that were inconclusive because the Delegates list for the Congresses were forged. For this same reasons of forgery and manipulation, the State Congress was also suspended and the Panel Chairman for the Congress, Professor Osita Ogbu, was recalled to Abuja by the NCC.
However and in compliance with the Constitution of the PDP and in exercise of legitimate powers, on the 28th of November, 2017 and 1st December, 2017 respectively, Ward and Local Government Congresses were conducted in the State, under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba, as Acting Chairman, Caretaker Committee. These Congresses were validated by the Senator Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Report and Barrister Ukpai Ukairo Local Government Appeal Panel Report.
It is important to note at this point, that the suspended State Congress, which is yet to hold till date had two candidates running for the office of State Chairman, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu and Chief Boniface Okelekwe.
This was the beginning of the present crisis in the State PDP, as Ndubuisi Nwobu, one of the chairmanship candidates in the suspended and yet to hold State Congress suddenly began to hold out himself as the de facto Chairman of the party in the State. Consequently and in the most bizarre display of undemocratic chicanery, Nwobu, a chairmanship candidate in the suspended Congress, purported to sack all the Ward and Local Government Delegates that were duly elected on the 28th of November, 2017 and 1st of December, 2017 and duly inaugurated, after their elections had been duly validated by Appeal Panel Reports.
This undemocratic usurpation of power and unlawful exercise of unknown and unrecognized powers, as vexatious and provocative as it is, was the foundation of the present crisis in Anambra PDP. It dates back shortly after the appointment of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba as the Chairman, State Caretaker Committee, when those opposed to his appointment approached an Nnewi High Court, praying for the dissolution of the Caretaker Committee and the vacation of the NCC’s decision to suspend the State Congress.
It should also be noted that they did not at this time challenge the already held Ward and Local Government Congresses or the outcome of both Congresses. Predictably, the Nnewi High Court struck out the case for lack of merit, aligning itself with an earlier judgement of an Abuja High Court, which recognized the Caretaker Committee as lawful and legitimate.
Even the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja in another matter brought before it by Representatives of the Caretaker Committee granted all their reliefs and prayers and directed the parties involved to approach the High Court for interpretation and pronouncement of the reliefs and prayers.
Confusion became the order of the day. Suits and counter suits dragged the party along the corridors of regrettable odium. Time continued to tick away. Other parties continued to prepare for the coming election while the acclaimed largest party in Africa continued in avoidable intra party treachery, that was gradually propelling it towards the precipice of infamy. Some members became worried. Avoidable mistakes of yester years were unfolding before their eyes, with even greater momentum of impunity.
Sadly, as certain good spirited members of the party were searching for peace, the party in obvious nonchalance of the escalating crisis slated the Zonal Congress of the party for the 6th of March, 2021. While some had misgivings, others hoped the party would find the courage to do the right thing, especially as this year’s governorship election is just few months away. But yet again, impunity was taken to a frightening dimension.
It was more like a coup d’etat because the party published a brochure purportedly containing the names of local government and Ward Delegates, that were eligible for the Congress. The names contained in the list were strange and unknown, not being the names of the people on the extant list of those that emerged from the Anambra State PDP Congresses conducted on the November 28 and December 1st, 2017.
These elected party officers were sidelined for handpicked friends, cronies and relatives of certain people who believe that their personal interests must always supersede the interests of the party and the collective interests of its members. Unable to keep quiet in the face of this alarming illegality, those party members that were duly elected during the Congresses conducted on November 28 and December 1st, 2021, challenged the illegality in court.
Consequently, one Samuel Anyakorah for himself and on behalf of all Local Government and Ward executives, who emerged from the Anambra State PDP Congresses conducted on 28th November, 2017 and 1st December, 2017, under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba, as Acting Chairman, State Caretaker Committee, filed a suit in the High Court of Justice, Abuja Judicial Division against the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu and Barrister Uchenna Obiorah.
Anyakorah sought six claims in the suit, viz; a declaration that by Article 2 of the Constitution of the PDP (amended 2017), the said Constitution is supreme and binding on the Party and its officers and that anything done contrary to its provisions is unlawful and illegal; a declaration that it is unlawful for the PDP at anytime to publish the name of a State Chairman alongside Exco members, Local Government Chairmen and National Delegates without recourse to the extant list of the already inaugurated Party officers and Delegates that emerged from the Anambra State PDP Congresses conducted on the 28th of November, 2017 and 1st of December, 2017 respectively, under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba as Acting Chairman, State Caretaker Committee; a declaration that the arbitrary imposition of a State Chairman, Exco members, Local Government Chairmen and National Delegates by the party is ultra vires its powers, unlawful, invalid and of no effect whatsoever; an order nullifying and setting aside all Congresses, designations or appointments by the PDP in respect to the Anambra State Chairman of the party, Exco members, Local Government Chairmen and National Delegates for being invalid and unlawful, as it is not in alignment with the list of already inaugurated Party officers and Delegates that emerged from the State Congresses of 28th November, 2017 and December 1st 2017 respectively; an order compelling the party, during the conduct of all elections in the State, to henceforth adopt, recognize and use only the list of party officers and Delegates that emerged from the Anambra State PDP Congresses conducted on 28th November, 2017 and December 1st, 2017 respectively; an order of perpetual injunction restraining the PDP, whether by itself, cronies, allies and representatives from further recognizing, dealing with or parading any person or group of persons except persons contained in the list of party officers and Delegates that emerged from the Anambra State PDP Congresses conducted on the 28th of November, 2017 and December 1st, 2017, validated by the Senator Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Panel Report and Barrister Ukpai Ukairo Local Government Appeal Panel Report.
The Court granted all the reliefs sought by the Claimants and thereby saved Anambra State PDP another season of self destruction. The question is whether the familiar demons plaguing the party in the State have been finally exorcised? Will the party and its members obey the order of Court and rally round Sir Chukwudi Umeaba in these crucial moments before this year’s Anambra governorship election? Will the Acting Chairman be tempted to become the winner that takes all or would he be a strong and unifying umbrella for all PDP members in the State? This is the best moment for the PDP if it truly desires to win this year’s Anambra governorship election.
There is a time to end impunity in Anambra PDP and the right time seems to be now. The audacity of usurpation is an inglorious bravado that if unchecked will yet again lead to collective destruction at the November polls.
Not again PDP, say no to these treacherous demons, that sabotage your winning chances in every election in the State.
Uchem Obi is a lawyer and writes from Awka
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