BY CYRIL ARIRIGUZO, KSM#
I want to start this piece on a congratulatory note to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Nigeria Judiciary in general. One, for supporting our nascent democracy by sparing Nigerians and the entire membership and sympathizers of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, the trouble of having to wait and guess of what may befall African largest party all these two years of internal legal tussle. Secondly, for putting to rest perpetually the issue of who is the authentic Chairman of the party by its ruling. Apart from the mixed reactions it brought to the warring groups, I observe that good number of PDP members nationwide had expressed sigh of relief and good number of them are happy with judiciary for leaving up to expectation as the last resort in restoring sanity to Nigeria’s democratic sphere. That Wednesday, the 12th day of July 2017, to me will be remembered for its significance in the life wire of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP being the only credible opposition party in Nigeria.
It was a day the Supreme Court finally ruled that the former Governor of Kaduna, Senator Ahmed Markarfi is the National Chairman of PDP, thus sacking Alhaji Ali Modu Sherrif as the party’s herdsman. The apex court in its unanimous decision by a five-man panel of justices, handed the leadership of the party to Senator Ahmed Markarfi led Working Committee. According to the lead Counsel, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, when he read the verdict, validated the National Convention of PDP held in Portharcourt on May 21, 2016 in which Sheriff led National Executive Council (NEC) was dissolved and further stipulated that the Convention was not conducted in disobedience to any Court Order, accusing Sherrif of engaging in ‘Forum Shopping’ and displaying infantile desperation to cling to office at all cost and thereafter awarded Two Hundred Thousand Naira cost as damages against Sherrif and his cohorts.
It is now obvious that the legal tussle and the Supreme Court verdict may have come and gone, but I know it has elicited some political lessons and development of interest and I want to agree here that the labours of the leadership of the PDP and those members who stood behind the party all through the crises period should not be allowed to go in vain. The huge bitter lessons has been learnt and such knowledge should remain immemorial in the minds of real lover of the party in other not allow it to repeat again.
The media too, since that judgment has been up and doing in reporting barrage of commentaries from politicians across political divide nationwide either in the internet, print or electronic outlets. I observed that many who feared that PDP as the only strong opposition party may not be able to come out of that political quagmire, believing PDP will die naturally in Nigeria through the Supreme Court. But thank God that wasn’t the case. As a keen observer and follower of political development in Imo state and Nigeria, it is appropriate to analyse or react to comments of importance objectively. One of such is a report credited to the former Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, since the saddle of leadership fall on him in Imo State by virtue of the Supreme Court judgment in favour of his camp. This is big sign that God is listening to the cries of many in Imo and also interested in enthroning quality leadership in Imo soon. We should not stop to pray for PDP.
Truthfully, Hon Ihedioha has surprised many of us by his comportment and humility all the time, by continuously speaking against maladministration of Governor Okorocha government, talking the case of the Pensioners and workers passionately. Encouraging the voiceless Imolites, to rise up against bad governance come 2019. For Ihedioha to see the Supreme Court judgment as victory for democracy, where there is no victor no vanquish, is a demonstration of political maturity and goodwill. His calling on those aggrieved members of the party to return and help in repositioning the party to win 2019 election is legendary of a leader with open heart. This is quite commendable. For commending the role PDP governors, Senators, Members of the House of Representative present and past, state leaders of the Party in the two groups and those number of personalities that contributed to the sustaining of the party during the moment of crises irrespective of their stand is also another quality I so much cherish. Such a mindset coming from a present governorship aspirant of PDP at this time show how prepared he is willing to embrace dialogue to sort out issues facing the party internally.
Today, PDP can be said to have resurrected to fight the All Progressive Congress, APC again come 2019. The judgment has turn thing to the better and has given them some impetus, as the feet could be best described as enviable as it has made many to swallow their words and shift ground to either dialogue or be left behind in the scheme of things. APC has probably been frightened like never since that verdict. One thing is certain here, everyone knows the outcome of the Supreme Court will determine 2019 in no small measure, and this is the funeral of APC now. Many in Imo APC are not at ease or happy that PDP has bounced back again. This is APC’s main headache, coming to drag with Ihedioha again is a herculean task and a hard nut to crack.
An APC leader in Imo name withheld told a group of journalists recently in media chat that “The nightmare is here again for APC and I don’t think APC can survive this time around in Imo. It will be very difficult to defeat Ihedioha in all honesty”. The man may not be the only person that shares such views. Many in APC are just suffering and smiling and afraid of leaving the party and face ridiculed for joining a wrong party. Even the least person in Imo knows APC has expired in Governor Okorocha’s hand and will not make in 2019, no matter who he presents, you can this, from their body language. There is uneasy calm in Imo APC now and I can tell you authoritatively that they will not be able to resolve their crises with what is happening now. To compound the crises, the national crises between Senate President, Senator Olusola Saraki and Vice President, Prof Osibanjo, will show up in Senator Ararume, Hon Uche Nwosu, Hon. Chike Okafor and Hon. Onyeagocha issues with Governor Okorocha. The high handedness of the Governor in no distance time, will come to play out and people will get the picture clearer in no distant time.
However, the PDP eggheads at the centre should emulate Hon Ihedioha and try bringing every group on board to forge ahead and make an in-road come 2019. I want to recommend to Imo PDP to make use of the political framework already created by Hon Emeka Ihedioha their governorship candidate, because his campaign machinery is superb and well organised. Every PDP member in the state knows this truth that his clout is deeply rooted at the grass root, where the mainstream politics is played. Hon Ihedioha by my assessment remains a force to be reckoned with and equally the only key to getting power out of APC in Imo state come 2019. Rt. Hon Ihedioha is from Owerri zone, the most marginalized zone, where power suppose to go now. He is an honest man, a stable party loyalist and a good leader that has shown immeasurable candour as a new generation leader with the required capacity, frame of mind and attributes of an experienced public servant. PDP should support and build around him since he has declared.
For those who are disenchanted by Governor Okorocha’s style of leadership. Their regrets for not voting PDP governorship candidate Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who was well equipped educationally can be redressed by joining PDP to salvage the state. I think the bitter lessons have been learnt already and Imo people are now wiser to decipher who governs them come 2019. We are suffering now for not putting the right person in leadership position and for yielding to sweet talks, empty promises and selling our votes for a plate of rice at the polling booth during the 2015 governorship election.
Aririguzo writes from Owerri