By ANOLU VINCENT, Owerri
AT the inception of the current political dispensation in the country, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominated the political scene until 2015.
In Imo State, PDP also dominated virtually the 27 local government areas and the 637 communities in the state.
Chief Achike Udenwa who ruled the state between 1999 and 2007 at a public functions once boasted that the PDP would remain glued at the seat of power (Govt. House Owerri) for at least a century.
Indeed, the former governor as at the time of his now perceived rodomontade could not be far from the truth, given the fact that the opposition parties led by the former All Peoples Party (APP) subsumed themselves with the imposing PDP umbrella.
The crisis which rocked the party’s governorship primaries in the 2007 governorship polls was to inflict a political somersault to the once redoubtable entity that ultimately installed Chief Ikedi Godson Ohakim as the next tenant of the Douglas House Owerri.
The Okohia Isiala Mbano-born politician was reportedly foisted on the Imo electorate by a cabal within the PDP led by Udenwa who, for inexplicable reasons, vehemently blocked a two time senator for Imo North, Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume, from governing Imo State.
The aggrieved Araraume was to engage the leadership of the party in a protracted legal battle to fly the party’s flag, having reportedly emerged victorious in the party’s primaries.
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The legal battle which raged till the expiration of the Ikedi Ohakim led Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) government in 2011 consequently dislodged the party from the pinnacle of power.
In retrospect, Ohakim had hardly settled down for business when he jumped ship and deserted the party that brought him to power and joined the PDP.
The fall of Ohakim from the Olympian height of power consequent upon the May 6th 2011 supplementary election which paved the way for Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha has been seen as the factor that sung the nunc dimittis of the PDP. Okorocha who came on board through the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) later jettisoned the very vehicle that brought him to his desired destination.
Undaunted by the deafening criticism that trailed his action, the now acclaimed maverick Governor tenaciously insisted that his action was informed by the dire need to integrate the Igbo into the mainstream of the nation’s body politics.
Dismissing the records of the 12 year PDP led administration in the state as a monumental disaster that took the state several years backwards in growth and development, the Ogboko Ideato South born politician quickly marshaled out his Rescue Mission agenda which he believed had the capacity to rescue the state from its abyss.
The past four years had ushered relief, succor and renewed hope of survival by a people that had previously sunk into a state of apathy, despondency and fatalistic mentality.
Construction, rehabilitation and reconstruction of dilapidated roads, building of schools, hospitals, bridges, enhanced rural electrification potable water, imposing round abouts, job creation for the youths encapsulated in youth must work programme have become visible in nooks and crannies of the state.
The free education programme, community government council put in place for rapid and accelerated rural transformation, revival, resuscitation and revamping of ailing industries, construction of new commissioners quarters, office of the deputy governor, that of the wife of the governor, Ochiedike diagnosis centre, Heroes Square, Ikemba Ojukwu convention centre, Imo International Convention center (IICC) Bongo Square are among the legions of credits of Okorocha that have really endeared him to the average Imo electorate.
In spite of the above, not a few of the people of the state believed that excruciating poverty, penury, hunger and starvation had assumed a much more disturbing dimension since the governor mounted the driver’s seat in the Eastern heartland.
To this class of people, since a hungry man is an angry man, the governor’s strong emphasis on the provision of infrastructure with no iota of attention on stomach infrastructure had rubbished all that he had laboured to put in place over the years.
Okorocha is said to be excessively stingy with money hence the biting cash free in the state.
To the governor’s traducers, while the majority of those who solidly stood by him both in body and in spirit had been abandoned in the scheme of things, his relations, in-laws, friends and close associates have continued to wallow in unprecedented affluence, wealth and riches.
Again, the governor is said to have acquired fabulous and incredible assets and properties scattered all over the country while at the same time preaching the gospel of belt tightening by the beleaguered masses.
The governor’s endless legal battle with the state council of traditional rulers, the elected 27 local government councils and their councilors, members of the state judicial service commission, local government and civil service commission whose tenures were cut short by the governor in the most executive display of power have remained an albatross to the rescue mission government.
Although still licking her wounds over her disastrous defeat in the last elections, the PDP in the state had since begun moves to re-launch itself to power in the next four years.
With regular nocturnal meeting, consultations and brain storming, the party had kept a tab on the groaning voice of the man in the street.
Not living ago a group known as “Coalition of true Imo PDP Democrats” emerged in the state.
Unveiling the group at the Aladimma mall Owerri on Sunday 1st November 2015, a Chieftain of the party and erstwhile Chairman of Owerri Local Government Council, Chief Amaugo Ugorji explained that the Coalition is an assemblage of all PDP men and women bound together by their shared vision and commitment to enthroning good governance through the return of internal democracy to the affairs of a reformed PDP in the state.
“It is open to all PDP members, all PDP members who believe in and are committed to reinventing the party and returning it to its real owners the people and it aims at bringing an end to impunity, uphold justice, entrench internal democracy and accountability in accordance with the slogan of the party and its founding principles”.
According to Amaugo, the overall aim is to uphold the ideals captured in the name of the party the Peoples Democratic Party and its slogan “Power to the People”.
Before now, Ugorji an Architect admitted that the party had been engulfed in a plethora of challenges which had brought serious disillusionment within her rank and file with adverse consequences for party cohesion, discipline and order.
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The above notwithstanding the poser on the lips or the Imo electorate is whether the party is really keen and desirous to wrestle power from the APC.
The poser has become imperative given the spate of ceaseless defection, sabotage, sundry and party activities bad blood and losses in election that have come to define the future of the party in the State.
Ugorji was quick to lament that not only are the real owners of the party serially sidelined and shunned, local government and State congress results that emanate from these basic civic engagement are glaringly compromised. This he warned should not be allowed to endure without the party falling into irrelevance in a state that has formidable electoral strength.
He made it clear that the Coalition is neither an attempt to form a parallel PDP nor a platform to factionalise the party but a genuine attempt to reposition and to strengthen if for the future.
“A party for the future has no alternative than to go into deep introspection and figure out that roadmap out of its quagmire. It has to come to terms with reality, pose questions and provide realistic answers to them, promote group survival over and above personal and selfish predilections”.
In the politics of the Eastern Heartland, the race for the 2019 Government House Owerri has begun but who will eventually carry the day in 2019 is a matter of political conjecture.