By Johnson Nwamkpuma
As members of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in Ebonyi State will on Saturday this week join their counterparts across Nigeria to choose either by direct election or stakeholder’s consensus who leads the Party in the State for the next four years, it is instructive that both Party men, stakeholders and delegates alike understand the prime place which this assignment importantly poses on both the electoral success of the party and indeed, its future.
The cautionary signs that the PDP in Ebonyi would need to thread very circumspectly, fairly and equitably in accomplishing the tasks ahead of it in the State congress became more manifest with the actions and reactions of the State’s Chief Executive, Engr. David Umahi since he dumped the Party for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in November last year. Needless reeling the fact that Umahi in his insipid pursuit of a selfish personal ambition jolted his faithful loyalists who worked hard amidst stiff opposition to ensure he was elected under the PDP platform in 2015.
For a man who had enjoyed numerous appointive and elective positions and privileges under the Umbrella Party, the defection of Umahi to the APC with the rather hasty conclusion that the PDP was not keen on zoning its Presidential ticket to the South came as a rude shock to many who had felt it was a manifest demonstration of ingratitude to a Party that brought him into limelight. However, many Party men and women were swift in their reaction not only to keep faith with the PDP but also refuse every temptation to dump the Party.
Faithful Party men and women, especially the leaders of our great party, including members of the National Assembly must be commended for resisting the harassments, accusations and intimidations from the Governor for standing firm with the platform under which the serving incumbents were elected.
It is worth recollecting that the NWC-appointed State Care-Taker committee led by a former Commissioner in the State, Elder Fred Udogu also faced vehement battles from the dissolved Executives of the Party who had held on to distract the Party, obviously to lure members into the APC, create confusion or ultimately to fulfill the pledge of their principal- the governor to stay in one Party and then cause crises in another major party he considers a threat. Among the State Executives who stood firmly to give the Party the defense, publicity and media projections it desired is Barr. Silas Onu who incidentally hails from the same Uburu community with Governor Umahi.
As a loyal Party man who followed through all the happenings in the Party, one is fully abreast with the fact that vituperative attacks and threats by the government and their cronies on the Amenu-Uburu, Ohaozara born Lawyer was very uncommon. Yet, Onu who is reputed for his dogged disposition on issues remained resilient in holding the Umahi-led government which quickly transmuted into maximum dictatorship immediately after joining the APC to account. I recall on several occasions how the State government declared the said Mr. Onu ‘wanted’ for no strong reason but for dutifully and diligently doing his job as the Party’s Spokesperson.
Born in the city of Kaduna where he had his early education before proceeding to the prestigious Faculty of Law, University of Jos, where he graduated with distinction before attending the Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus, Onu is presently a practicing lawyer and a member of the Nigerian Bar Association National Executive Committee (NEC). His activities as a student’s union leader no doubt helped in shaping his social and mental disposition on issues vis-à-vis his handling of the very sensitive he occupies.
A further peep into his background shows that Silas Joseph Onu is an alumni of the Harvard Business School, United States of American where he specialized in Entrepreneurship. He was also a member of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council in the 2019 Presidential Election as well as a member of the PDP Legal Team at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal the same year. An accomplished Bar man, Business man and a political rising star, Silas Joseph Onu volunteered to serve as the Ebonyi State PDP Caretaker Publicity Secretary in 2020 when the Governor decamped into APC and has discharged his duty for the party with excellence.
His rich resume’ simply underscores why he has not yielded to the intimidations, harassments, threat and uncouth antics of the ruling Party in the State and has stood for each and every member of the Party that has faced one form of attack or the other. A classic case I remember was the attack on the leader of the group of Former Development Centre Coordinators, Barr. Amos Ogbonnaya who was promptly rescued from his dare-devil attackers through the timely intervention of Onu and his loyalists who have remained die-hard fans and supporters of the Party.
Without sounding unpatriotic, as a sincere lover and a firm believer in our great Party and its future especially as Nigeria prepares for yet another general election, I was deeply excited to have learnt that the young and ebullient lawyer was the first to purchase form for the position of the State’s Chairman of our great Party. Information available in public domain shows that he purchased his nomination form on August 27, 2021- at the expiration of the initial deadline for purchase and submission of nomination forms by aspirants as contained in Paragraph 16.0 of the Approved Guidelines for the Party’s Congress.
Onu also met the legal and constitutional requirements of Paragraph 10.0(g) of the Party’s Electoral Guidelines which maintains that nominations at Wards, Local Government and State levels shall close at least 7 (Seven) days to the start of the respective elections.
It was a delightful news therefore to many, not only because he is a youth nor because he is the only aspirant who is not waiting for any godfather but banking on God-the father to lead the PDP in Ebonyi. His vibrancy, exposure, wisdom, intellectual prowess and above all, administrative acumen are all what the PDP in Ebonyi requires at this critical time that it is now an opposition Party after clinging to power for more than two decades in the State. Onu knows what he wants and goes for it and that is the kind of decisive leader our Party requires at this time in its history.
Further investigation revealed that while Barr. Onu complied with the PDP Guidelines for State Congress by not just purchasing his nomination form within time, he also completed and submitted same before the close of submission.
Contrarily, every other aspirants were seen running around to complete their freely obtained nomination forms at the venue of Screening which held the 9th of October, 2021. If PDP is a party that is governed by its own Constitution, only Barr. Onu met all the conditions precedent to participate in the Congress coming up on Saturday the 16th of October 2021.
Legally-speaking, other aspirants are not even qualified for the Screening they all were allowed to participate in. These is the major problem with our political parties and our Party now being in opposition in Ebonyi with what seems like a huge mountain to climb to return to power can avoid this by being fair, just and equitable to all.
As a Party man, I have also conducted some form of investigations into the backgrounds, character dispositions and accomplishments of the others said to be aspiring for the same office and came to the conclusion that Onu is sure-bet to reposition the Party and give the youths a voice and a chance. Already, the load is made lighter with the official zoning of the Party not only to the South but literally to his Ohaozara and Afikpo South LGAs. I was also further delighted, not only by the agreement ,reached by Ebonyi South stakeholders to officially zone the position to Ohaozara but by the early endorsement (as reported in the media) of Onu as the choice of Ohaozara stakeholders ahead of the Thursday, October 16 2021 Congress of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in Ebonyi State.
I therefore appeal to the delegates and stakeholders of the PDP across the length and breadth of the 171 Electoral Wards in Ebonyi to ensure they enthrone credible leadership that has hitherto been demonstrated, tested and therefore can be trusted by supporting a stable, reliable and very durable character like Silas Onu. Else, our party may fall into the hands of some desperate opportunists that could be compromised for a morsel of yam. May God forbid same and grant us the wisdom and strength that may lead us to victory in the Congress and the main election!
We should always remember that we are no longer a party in power, but a party seeking to return to governance in 2023 and it is only on the tripod stand of fairness, capacity and doggedness that victory could beckon on our Party!.
Johnson Nwankpuma, a Political Commentator, staunch Chieftain of the PDP wrote from Inyimagu, Izzi LGA of Ebonyi State.