As members of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP prepare to elect new Executives who will pilot the affairs of the Party ahead the 2023 elections and even beyond, it is nothing unusual that many stakeholders and Party men alike have taken deep interest in the Party’s affairs in Ebonyi State.
A number of factors, including the fact that Ebonyi has traditionally remained under the control of the umbrella since the return of democracy not until the defection of the incumbent governor, Engr. David Nweze Umahi who was elected under the PDP platform amidst stiff opposition in 2015 to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in November last year have largely accounted for the interests of both history and bookmakers on what becomes of the Party in a post-Umahi era for instance.
Whereas, the Party’s elites, stakeholders and principal officers, including those elected under its platform in 2019 are upbeat in their assurances that the PDP will reclaim Ebonyi in 2023 as it has never lost the State to any Party, some keen watchers feel that it is time for the leaders to back their desires with consistent and even predictably suggestive steps and actions!
Others have however, harped on unity of purpose, shunning of selfish interests and inclinations capable of derailing the Party’s collective pursuits, aims and targets by the leaders and above all; insisting on giving a level playing field to all aspirants to the Party’s exalted office of State Chairman and other Executive members.
For those in the latter School of ideology, the integrity, strong will of character, dependability and demonstrable capacity to deliver tangible and credible results at any given time by any such occupant (s) of the Party’s sensitive offices matter more than any other considerations no matter how emotionally-sentimental such may appear.
This is why the opportunity to elect a new breed of Excos presents a good testing ground for the Party to either get its ass right or remain crying in the wilderness of opposition, ostensibly as a lone voice.
But the Party, having suffered very daunting persecutions and hard times in the hands of the incumbent government that was elected on its platform wouldn’t funnily wish to find itself remaining in the opposition’s wilderness. Since November 19 2020 when Governor Umahi jumped ship, both the elites, stakeholders and ordinary members of the Party have suffered some level of persecution or name-callings, including verbal and physical attacks by those zealous and very desperate to prove to Governor Umahi that PDP is dead, and indeed, buried in the Salt of the nation!
It is not surprising therefore, the fact that the race for who occupies the Kilometer 48 Abakaliki-Enugu Expressway Secretariat office of the PDP which has remained under lock and key on the wanton scheming of the Governor to destabilize the existing peace and unity in the Party has generated too many interests and anxiety on the part of the aspirants.
Archetypal of his character persona, Umahi, unlike some other decampee Governors who have allowed the PDP to carry on with its activities is merely demonstrating his anger and subtle protest against the refusal of many, especially the stakeholders to join him in a band wagon to the ruling APC.
As at the last count, a total of seven candidates have reportedly purchased interest forms for the State’s PDP Chairmanship position while numerous others also purchased forms for various Executive positions of the Party. The State’s Congress is coming up in a few weeks time after the Party has peacefully and successfully conducted its Wards and Local Government Congresses across the 13 Local Government Areas and 171 Wards in the State.
Among those vying for the State’s Chairmanship position and eminently qualified to run includes a former member of the Federal House of Representatives and one of the frontline foundational stakeholders of the PDP who played a prominent role alongside nine others (some of who are Late today) in sponsoring, building and nurturing Ebonyi PDP to the beautiful bride that it is today.
As a younger politician who was still learning the ropes of politics, I vividly recall that Chief Irem Ibom who was later elected under the Party’s platform was among the first Ten disciples of the PDP who stood their grounds in nurturing the Party in 1998 when it was first brought into the State amidst stiff oppositions from forces such as the former Governor of old Abia State and current Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, former deputy Governor of the old Anambra State, Senator Chris Nwankwo, former Governor of Ebonyi State Chief Martin Elechi among numerous others who were all of the defunct All People’s Party, APP. The other nine who were part of the PDP Conveners were; Dr. Udo Oji Okoro, Barr. Okeagu Ogada, Engr. Fidelis Nwankwo, Engr. Emmanuel Oko Isu and Chief Polycarp Nwite.
Others were; Dr Sam Egwu, Barr. Nduka Umoke, Engr. Ben Okah and Ogbonnaya Aja Nwachukwu.
Despite threats and attempts to intimidate and lure members of the Party with monetary inducements and promises of political appointments, the Party won in 10 out of the 13 Local Government Areas in the first Council Chairmanship election held in the State upon preparations to fully return the nation to democratic governance in 1999. Chief Irem Oka Ibom was, in his usual political clout strategically instrumental to the success of the Party even in its first electoral victory which saw the emergence of Senator Egwu as the first Executive Governor of the State.
It would be recalled that as a man of his personal convictions, Chief Ibom had joined the PDP as one of the first eleven (actually ten in this instance).
It was on the strength of his tremendous sacrifices and unwavering support for the PDP that he was appointed by Senator Sam Egwu as Honourable Commissioner for Information and Culture in 1999.
And later in 2001 when the need arose to reposition the Party for 2003 elections, he was appointed as Special Adviser, (Political) in the same administration with a clear mandate to help reposition the Party for better relevance.
Upon graduation from the University, Chief Ibom started out as an entrepreneur after successfully incorporating his first company in 1992. As a trained and accomplished Economist, his wealth of uncommon experience was also brought to bear in the Poverty Alleviation and Eradication Programme of the then newly-created Ebonyi State. This is why his close allies and associates call him a serial Entrepreneur.
This was in addition to the innovative and effective changes he spearheaded in the administrative system of the State’s civil service, including the development of an Economic Blueprint which successive administrations have continued to use in the Salt of the nation!
Any wonder majority of the PDP stakeholders were unanimous in supporting him to emerge as a federal legislator representing the people of Afikpo North and South Federal Constituency in 2003. There at the hallowed Green Chambers, Chief Ibom was also a golden fish as he not only made laws but attracted several community development projects to his constituents. Due to his undying love for the PDP, 101 as he is popularly referred to is one of the very few politicians of his era and time who has never cross-carpeted to any other political Party platform.
This implies that he has been consistent with the PDP under thick and thin, rain and sunshine.
Besides his proven and attestable records in public service, Chief Ibom has proven himself a man of integrity well able to do that he has never relied or gone cap in hand like some stakeholders to beg for crumbs from any government in power in the State.
He has rather established himself through his numerous local and foreign businesses and other entrepreneurial engagements through which he gives back to society.
His interests and passion therefore is keenly to return the PDP to Ebonyi on the path of glory, equity, justice and fairness which would ultimately see the PDP return to power in 2023. As a humble Party man who respects authority, institutions and personalities, there’s no doubt that he will above all, ensure a level playing ground for all party members.
As the Party stakeholders, supporters and members alike congregate in a couple of weeks to elect their new Executives, it is my strong advocacy that the Party should fully throw their weight behind such a dogged, consistent and charismatic leader who has sufficiently demonstrated capacity in past engagements. At a time when the incumbent governor as we all know his modus may likely come with his ‘dubious offers’ to cause many with unstable characters to derail and dump the umbrella, it is my firm believe and confidence that only those with attestable records of honour and integrity like Chief Ibom would ultimately withstand such temptations that could be common to men, but quite destructive to our beloved Party!
In other words, our Party men and women MUST shine their eyes and go for tested and trust-worthy characters, not men who could faint, be swayed or dismayed.
. Mbam Alfred O. is a dyed-in-the-wool member of the PDP. He writes from Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.