How PDP leaders in Imo state worked for APC’s victory – Onwuasoanya Jones.

readers-mail-1It may be easier for most people to blame the defeat suffered by the PDP in the last governorship election in the State on the commitment and hard work of the members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the smart political manoeuvrings of Governor Rochas Okorocha who was eventually declared winner of that election, but the truth is that the PDP should take the bigger chunk of the blame for their loss in that election.  I am still convinced that the 2015 governorship election in the State remains one of the easiest elections for the PDP to win, if they had got their acts right. There will be an essay dedicated to the deep reasons why the PDP lost at the polls, for now, let us deal with a part of those reasons; betrayal by the Party leaders.

            One of the biggest saboteurs in this election is Rt. Hon. Chuma Nnaji who was the running mate to the PDP governorship candidate, Chief Emeka Ihedioha. Chief Chuma Nnaji could not have been unaware of the huge opposition which his selection as Ihedioha’s running mate received from  within and outside the Party. I am privy to discussions held by top ranking Party leaders and strategists who pushed for Nnaji’s substitution, but Chief Ihedioha in his characteristic obstinacy refused to yield to such pressures. I expected Chief Chuma Nnaji to have taken it upon himself to prove those who opposed his selection wrong, by at least delivering his LGA to the PDP. Unfortunately, the former legislator and former Commissioner could only struggle to deliver his booth. Information available to me is that the deputy governorship candidate was not only too reluctant to invest his own money, but curiously hoarded monies provided by the campaign organization, hence, he was outspent by the APC.

            When Chief Chris Okewulonu was appointed as the Director General of the Imo Project Campaign Organization, I was hopeful that he was going to be a good fit for the job, and I even went ahead to do a memo to him which was published in all the local dailies, many online media and went viral in the social media. Chris Okewulonu’s biggest undoing was his inability to understand that the ordinary people mattered more in a democratic contest than any other people. he seemed too carried away by his confidence in having the results written to do what he needed to do for his Party to win election. Like most other Party leaders in the State, Chris Okewulonu; a former Secretary to the State Government, former Commissioner and presently a Federal Commissioner under the PDP government  only depended on spending from whatever Chief Emeka Ihedioha provided, and even at that could not spend all the money made available to him. It is disgraceful to the veteran politician that Deacon Chike Okafor who joined politics barely four years ago, dusted him in all the elections conducted this year, even up till his polling booth. Chris Okewulonu did not fight like there was something in it for him, he cared less about the victory of the Party than he cared about what he could get from the coffers of the campaign organization. Chief Okewulonu is one of those whose over bloated political importance has been busted with this election. Like many others who lay fake claim to political leadership, Chris Okewulonu has been reduced to the level of a political kindergarten, if results from all the elections are anything to go by.

            In Ideato Federal Constituency where we have several acclaimed welterweight politicians routing for the PDP, Okorocha had such a comfortable victory in the two LGAs that make up the Federal Constituency that you will wonder if any opposition really existed in the two LGAs. Moneybags like Tony Ezenna, Sir Lai Ojimba, Paulinus Anyikwa, Kingsley Ufere, the Mbadiwes, the Ibenemes, the Maduakos and veteran politicians like Eze Duruiheoma, Rufus Omeire and others in their mould were swept off like chaff by the lone force of Governor Rochas Okorocha. The Chairman of all PDP LGA chairmen in the State, architect Okwudili Munonye is another disaster whose failure to deliver in this election has long been foretold. These leaders and political merchants were too interested in what their selfish benefits may be that they failed to go out of their way to deliver victory or at most put up a good showing for the Party in those areas.

            Former Governor Achike Udenwa and his brother Elvis Agukwe were also walked over, not because they could not deliver Orlu LGA but because they are rumoured to have already begun negotiations to join the APC, as they cannot survive without government patronage. There is no doubt that if the duo of Elvis Agukwe and Governor Achike Udenwa had put in, even average efforts, the PDP would have comfortably won Orlu LGA, their influence should have also helped secure victory for the Party in adjoining LGAs of Njaba, Isu and Orsu, if they wield half of the political influence they arrogate to themselves, and they were actually set to protect the Party’s interest.

            Nobody saw Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Bethel Amadi, Samdaddy Anyanwu and other PDP heavyweights in Ikeduru LGA during the governorship election. These men were undoubtedly committed and were hugely instrumental to PDP’s victory during the presidential and national assembly elections held on the 28th of March, but during the governorship and State House of Assembly elections, they were nowhere to be found. Bethel Amadi’s carefree attitude to the governorship may be explained by the fact that he had always had deep seated reservations about the person of Chief Ihedioha with whom he has a lingering history of political rivalry. Chief Emmanuel Iwuanaynwu’s own excuse is that he got intelligence that Rochas has singled him out for assassination, hence, his decision to lie low during the elections. Samdaddy couldn’t cry more than the bereaved, he had won his election and I think he campaigned as vigorously as he could for Ihedioha, but when he saw the reality on the ground, he had no other option than to retreat. After all, it may be to his advantage, as he will be able to compete on equal grounds for the governorship against Ihedioha and any other candidate from Owerri zone, come 2019. Ihedioha’s victory at the polls, wouldn’t have been in Samdaddy’s best political interests, as I know he nurses a strong ambition to one day become the Governor of Imo State. Though a good Party man would have considered the larger interest of the Party beyond his own future ambition, in Nigeria we do not Party supremacy is more farcical than factual.

            In Owerri Federal Constituency where Ihedioha built all his hope on established political leaders like Willie Amadi, Levi Oguike, Kema Chikwe, Jerry Chukwueke, and the others, Rochas also had an easier victory than any political pundit would have expected. This is easy to understand as most of these leaders are more anxious over their stomach infrastructure than any talk about delivering the Party. While a good number of them are alleged to have gone behind to collect money from Governor Okorocha and stayed back to play the role of spoilers, others hoarded monies meant to be deployed for the election. some of them were even sighted with newly acquired girlfriends having fun in five star hotels in parts of the State, while the elections were on.

            Senator Hope Uzodimma is fast making a name for himself as one of the most unreliable politicians in Imo State, as he continues to trade off his Party’s interest at the slightest lure of lucre. Some of his very close associates deny that his is not really a matter of money, rather that he does not like throwing himself into other peoples matter, as he would on his own matter. The same hanky-panky he was accused of in 2011 is the same thing that happened this 2015. There is no explanation for his failure to deliver his LGA. Some analysts are playing with the probability that he might have been fully in the know, and may have even been the originator of the controversies that surrounded the Oru East result. Whichever way, the man we like to call Onwa Oyoko has made a name for himself as that politician you must not build your hopes on if you want to win election. The Senator representing my Imo West Senatorial District is a self centred politician who will show his mastery of the power game when he is on the ballot, but will disappear into his room when it mattered most for other members of his Party.

            Ngor-Okpala parades a retinue of political leaders who would have easily delivered the LGA if there was adequate co-ordination between them, but they were too concerned about personal gains and vendetta to be able to deliver the number of votes we expected from that LGA. PDP’s marginal victory in Ngor-Okpala is an indictment on people like Barrister Enyinnaya Onuegbu, Professor Jude Njoku, Bede Ekeh and others who have been at the forefront of the PDP struggle to form the government in the State. The PDP governorship candidate also shares a big chunk of the blame for the Party’s dismal performance in Ngor-Okpala as he is accused of alienating the people who have the key to deliver the votes to the PDP in that LGA. In fact, the PDP would have lost woefully in Ngor-Okpala had Ohakim not intervened and directed his allies in that LGA to deliver the PDP. People like Henry Ekpe, Professor Jude Njoku, Ethelbert Okere are core Ohakim loyalists whose last minute interest in PDP’s victory delivered the LGA for PDP.

            Both Nnamdi Anyaehie who is PDP’s State Chairman and Retired General Chikwe who is his deputy lost woefully in their respective LGAs. In Nkwere, the PDP could not even garner twenty five percent of the votes cast, as the insurgent Uche Nwosu, and masters of the game; Rex Anunobi and Steve Asimobi combined to effectively shellac the PDP in that election. In Mbaitoli, General Chikwe could not even deliver his own polling booth as the APC swept most of the votes cast.

            In Ehime Mbano, the Senator-elect for Okigwe zone, Chief Athan Achonu is alleged to have openly instructed his supporters to vote for the APC for the House of Assembly and vote the PDP for governorship, but these supporters understandably could not make the necessary distinctions and went to the polls to cast their votes for APC all through. Here, it is Athan Achonu’s leadership tussle with Chief Tony Chukwu that should be blamed for the PDP’s failure more than anything else.

            The bitter truth is that the celebration parties going on in the APC camp at present would have been the other way round if the leaders of the PDP had killed their personal interests and exhibited more loyalty and commitment to the Party, instead of their unbridled pursuit after personal interests. It is also important to point out that in most of the areas where the PDP failed; it is the retaliation from their members who were unjustly treated that led to their failure. While the leaders of the Party at various levels are encouraged to be more selfless and invest towards getting more of the ordinary people to their side, the Party on its own must invest on guaranteeing internal democracy within its ranks, as we look forward to 2019.

Written by Onwuasoanya Jones

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