Policy Briefs

News Track: As Anambra PDP Stakeholders Return To Trenches

Stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State have once again returned to their trenches in their struggle for who controls the state leadership of the party thereby sending a dangerous signal that the party may again go into the forthcoming general elections as a house in tatters. In this report, OKECHUKWU OBETA writes on the power tussle rocking the party in the state.
As discussions and permutations for the forthcoming 2019 general elections by political gladiators and other stakeholders take the centre stage across the country, the mood among members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their supporters in Anambra state has been that of despondency and frustration.

The party’s stakeholders have once again returned to their trenches in their struggle for the soul of the party in the state. This unfortunate situation according to sources within the party was created by the incumbent national leadership under Prince Uche Secondus as chairman following the suspension of the newly elected 27-member state Working Committee (SWC) of the PDP in Anambra state which has Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu as chaiman.

The Prince Secondus-led NWC of the PDP about a week after its inauguration was said to have suspended the newly constituted SWC of the PDP in Anambra state. The PDP new national leadership on its own was inaugurated on December 10, 2017, following the party’s national convention held the previous day, December 10, in Abuja, the nation’s seat of power.

The National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the PDP-led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ben Ndi Obi, as chairman and secretary respectively mid-wifed the conduct of the congresses of PDP in Anambra state at the ward, local government and the state level in Anambra state few weeks before it organized the party’s

national convention that produced the Prince Secondus-led NWC members. The outcome of the Anambra state congresses was ratified during the NCC of the PDP 449 meeting held on December 8, 2017, at the party’s Wadata plaza national headquarters. had even before the national convention ratified the Chief Nwobu- led 27-member SWC of the party in Anambra state.

The Senator Markarafi’s NCC later forwarded a letter to Chief Ndubuisi Nwosu wherein it conveyed to him ( Chief Nwobu) the ratification of his SWC leadership in Anambra state by the PDP NCC. According to the letter dated December 8,2017, signed by both Senator Ahmed Markarafi and Senator Ben Ndi Obi, chairman and secretary of the PDP NCC respectively, the ratification was done by the PDP NCC at its 449th meeting held that same day. It stated that the PDP national hierarchy took the decision after receiving and reviewing the reports of the various panels that conducted the congresses of the party in the state. Former Special Adviser to erstwhile President Osita Ogbu-led the panel set up by the PDP NCC which conducted the Anambra state congress.

The PDP national leadership however stated that it rejected the outcome of the congresses held in six out of the 21 local governments of the state: Idemili- South, Idemili -North, Nnewi-North, Nnewi -South, Aguata and Ihiala,and, said that the exercise in those areas would be repeated in due course.

According the zoning arrangements adopted by the party stakeholders in the state ahead of the state congress, the position of the chairmanship of the state was reserved for the Awka federal constituency which is made up two local governments viz: Awka-south and Awka-North. The state holders in the federal constituency later in a meeting held at the residence of Chief Ben Ndi Obi zoned the position to Awka-South. Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu and Chief Boniface Kodilichukwu Okelekwe, former governorship aspirant under the party contested the position. Okelekwe later raised alarm that the congress was hijacked from the Prof Ogbu’s panel by some forces, and, that the forces refused that the congress should hold. But Nwobu had been pronounced the elected chairman of the PDP in the state.

Apparently inundated with petitions and pressure from some stakeholders who were aggrieved over the outcome of the state congress the Prince Secondus-led NWC less than a week after it was inaugurated announced that it had suspended the Chief Nwobu-led SWC in Anambra state. In the statement dated December 19, 2017, signed by the PDP national publicity secretary, Chief Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP new national leadership named one Sir Chukwudi Umeaba as the one to head a Caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of the party in Anambra state pending when the NWC conducted a fresh state congress in the state. The PDP national publicity Secretary, however stated that the party NWC upheld the outcome of both the ward and local government congresses in the state.

Curiously, however, the national secretary of the PDP, Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri in a letter addressed to the Inspector General of police, dated the same December 19, 2017, removed the Sir Umeaba Caretaker and stated that the PDP NWC at a meeting on that same day, December 19, had “directed that the South East Zonal Executive of the party” led by Deacon Austin Umahi as the national Vice-chairman (South East) “should oversee the affairs of the Anambra state chapter until congresses are held within 90 days”.

Addressing newsmen after the NWC meeting , Deacon Umahi stated that the decision to suspend the Chief Nwobu-led SWC was arrived at “ after due consultations with PDP leaders and stakeholders in the state”.

He lamented that the party had been losing the governorship elections in the state because of impunity going on the state chapter of the party. “It is not that PDP is not in Anambra. It is as a result of intrigues and people bent on pulling the PDP down in the state because of their selfish interests. We are saying enough is enough. This rascality must stop, and, we must get it right. And that is why as a zone we have decided to take a position. The position is that the state congress in Anambra is suspended. We just have to go back and conduct the right congress and constitute the right state Working Committee. This is the way to go in Anambra state”, Umahi had stated.

Meanwhile, not only a few members of the party in the state are now angry that the Prince Secondus-led NWC of the party by announcing suspension of the Nwobu-led state Working Committee had created more problems and confusion in the party in the state. The action of the PDP national leadership has become more worrisome according to some of the concerned party members because, the party leadership which promised that it would conduct a fresh state congress “within 90 days has not been able to conduct that exercise about six months after”. Most disturbing according to the PDP members is that the situation had thrown those who would want to seek tickets of the party for the forthcoming general election confused and demoralized, including their supporters. This is also, largely because since the unfortunate announcement, various leaders of the party had intervened to resolve the leadership impasse without success. It is now said that the task overseeing of the affairs of the party in the state had now been removed from Deacon Umahi and given to the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremmadu. Ekweremmadu was however said to have been alarmed during his meeting with an enlarged stakeholders of the party from Anambra in Enugu residence in the neighbouring Enugu state because he found out that the NWC of the party decision was probably done in error.

By the action, the Prince Secondus-led PDP NWC has played into the hands of those who had made it impossible for the party in the state to have a leadership for several years before the build up to the state gubernatorial election held on November 18, last year. For instance, contrary to the zoning arrangement adopted earlier which reserved the state chairmanship seat to Awka- South and Awka- North local governments areas, Chief Ngozi Agudosi who hails from Idemili-South local government has now joined in the chairmanship contest. He had already flooded virtual hug every strategic location in the major cities of Awak, Nnewi, Onitsha and other places with his campaign posters announcing his intention to be voted state Chairman of the party in the state. When contacted, Agudosi stated that the earlier state congress of the party did not hold as planned, and that he would now want to emerge as chairman of the in the state.

Meanwhile, Prince Secondus and the South East zonal Vice-chairman, Deacon Umahi appear to be avoiding the media on issues concerning the raging controversy over the leadership of the PDP in Anambra state. Several calls and sms sent to their mobile telephone numbers by this reporter seeking their clarifications on the true position of the PDP in Anambra state as it relates to the state leadership were not responded to. Deacon Umahi who eventually picked call after several calls and sms sent to his phone by this reporter only replied “no comment” when this reporter asked him the latest decision of the party’s national leadership concerning the tussle over the leadership of the party in Anambra state.

Many members and supporters of PDP in the state are indeed worried that the Prince Secondus-led NWC of PDP has either deliberately or mistakenly returned the party to its inglorious path that has been responsible for the party’s inability to recover the state governorship seat from the All Progressives Grand Alliance ( APGA) since it lost the seat to the latter during the 2003 general election. Anyone who is familiar with the trend of politics in the state will certainly testify that the struggle for the leadership of the PDP in Anambra state among the major stakeholders is largely the bane of the party in the state.

Though the party had not been able to recover the governorship position, the party had, since then, however sustained its overwhelming victory in other elective positions in the state, including the National Assembly and State Assembly elections. For instance, except during the last general election in 2015, when the PDP lost all the 30 state House of Assembly constituency seats, wining only one ( Ekwusigo state constituency), to the ruling party in the state, APGA, PDP always recorded overwhelming victory in the National Assembly elections, including theSenatorial and House of Representatives seats, as well as in the state Assembly constituency elections.

However, it is instructive to note that PDP had always recorded those electoral victories in controversial circumstances.

The party had always contested elections in every constituency with multiple candidates. This is due to the different factional state leaderships which it normally parades in the state. Each of the factions would always during elections would always conduct separate primaries and nominates its candidate who lays claim to the party ticket in each constituency during elections. What happens thereafter was that after the Independent National Electoral Commission( INEC) declared the outcome of the poll in favour of the PDP in any constituency,all the various claimants to the party ticket in the affected constituency would head to Court where the Court would in turn determine which of them was the authentic candidate of the party. And consequent upon the decision of the Court the candidate sponsored by the faction that was upheld by the court as the authentic state leadership would then inherit the victory credited to the party in the affected constituency.

For instance it was this type of controversy that cost the party the Anambra Central senatorial district seat in the 2015 when the Appeal Court sitting in Enugu sacked Senator Uche Ekwunife from the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly. Senator Ekwunife was the candidate of the party in the election.

The INEC declared PDP winner of the senatorial seat. Even the NationalAssembly Electoral Tribunal panelists who looked into the petition brought against the conduct of the senatorial election and the outcome by the APGA candidate, Chief Victor Umeh upheld the Senator Ekwunife’s victory.

But the APGA candidate later challenged the tribunal decision in the Appeal Court, Enugu, the Appeal court did not only nullify the decision of the tribunal, but after ordering for a fresh conduct of the senatorial poll, barred both the PDP and its candidate, Senator Uche Ekwunife from participating in the ordered fresh poll. The Appeal court held that Ekwunife was not nominated as candidate in a primary conducted by the appropriate panel authorized by the PDP national leadership to conduct the primary the purpose of nominating candidate that should fly the party’s senatorial flag in that election.

Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP gathered that despite the protest against the Chief Nwobu-led SWC which sources within the party say is based on selfish interest, the state leadership was actually a “product of a state congress duly held in compliance with the guideline of the party”. It was stated that the exercise which was conducted by the Professor Osita Ogbu panel mandated by the then Senator Markarfi-led NCC of the PDP was also supervised by some officials of the INEC and witnessed by some operatives of the Directorate of the state services ( DSS).

It is strongly being suspected that the PDP national chairman, Prince Secondus had ordered the suspension of the Chief Nwobu- led SWC particularly to please the self acclaimed leader of the party in the state to spite former Governor Peter Obi and the immediate past national secretary of the party, Senator Ndi Obi, both of who are believed to be backers of the Chief Nwobu-led SWC. It is however said that the PDP national chairman is now finding it difficult to reverse the suspension having found out the futility of his earlier action.

The senator Markarafi’s NCC of the PDP according to sources within the party had successfully laid a solid foundation for the party in the state with the conduct of the congresses until the suspension of the Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu-led SWC by the new PDP national leadership of Prince Uche Secondus.

To ensure permanent resolution of the seeming intractable tussle over the leadership of party in the state, the Markarafi’ NCC of the PDP had before commencing the conduct of congresses of the party in the state sacked all the factional state leaderships particularly, the Prince Ken Emeakayi and Chief Ejike Oguebego-led factions. After successfully disbanding the factions, the PDP national leadership then constituted the Professor A. B. C. Nwosu-led Caretaker Committee with former Minister of Women Affair and member of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief ( Mrs) Iyom Josephine Aneneih as the Secretary to oversee the affairs of the party in the state. That was in the build up to the last year, November 18, gubernatorial poll. And the Prof. Nwosu Caretaker Committee was reputed to have successfully managed the affairs of the party such that it was the first time since after the 2003 general election, that the PDP contested an election in the state without having multiple candidates.

This was how Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze, former UN diplomat was the only candidate of the PDP in the governorship election. And when the power mongers within the party in the state saw that they could not produce a parallel candidate as they used to do, they sold out to the ruling party in the state and worked against their own party’s candidate, Mr. Obaze which was why the party placed third in the election with APGA carrying the day while the federal government- led All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Dr. Tony Nwoye took second position.

The Prof. Nwosu- led Caretaker Committee that was overseeing the affairs of the PDP in Anambra state when the congresses of the party was conducted made frantic efforts to dissuade the Prince Uche Secondus’s NWC from suspending the Nwobu SWC, but, latter remained adamant.

Secretary of the caretaker committee, Chief Mrs Iyom Josephine Aneneih in a letter dated December 20, 2017, entitled Re: The state of Our Party in Aanambra state, addressed to the PDP’s NWC through the national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus had confirmed to the party leadership that all the congresses of the party in the state were duly conducted in line with the PDP guidelines; that the processes were supervised by the relevant agencies including the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), police, DSS, etc.

Iyom Aneneih in the letter stated “I hereby wish to report that all the committees starting from the ward congress Committee led by Amb. Desmond Akawor to the state congress Committee led by Prof. Ostia Ogbu and the state Congress Appeal committee led by Chief Tony Omaghe visited Anmabra state and duely conducted the exercises as directed by the National Caretaker Committee of our party, they were all received by me as the caretaker secretary, provided each of the committees with accommodation, in very decent hotel in Awka as well as their feeding and logistics movement in Aawka. So it will be wrong for anyone to say that congresses did not hold in Aanambra state.
“The state congress Appeal Committee headed by Chief Tony Omaghe were in Aanambra on the 5th of December and sat and received all petitions from 5th to 6th of December, 2017. They departed on the 7th of December and filled their report at Wadata plaza same day. By the foregoing it is clear that the congresses in Anambra state was conclusive and that the emergence of Hon. Ndubuisi Nwobu as Chairman of the party in Anambra followed the required procedure as directed by the National Caretaker Committee.

“ I urge the Nat and Working Committee headed by Prince Uche Secondus, an experienced hand in party administration to,uphold the actions carried out by the erstwhile National Caretaker Committee headed by Senator Ahmed Markarafi as anything to the contrary will not portray the party in good light”.

In fact, virtually every member of the PDP in the state, and,their strong supporters now look downcast because of the seeming absence of an authentic leadership of the party in the state duly recognized by the national leadership of the PDP.


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Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

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