Numbers and diversity are the most important measure of strength a political party wields. A case in point is the recently concluded presidential election in the United States where victory due to coalescing of diverse groups. Well, I read with utter dismay an article captioned, “PDP: Fear of Kalu’s return grips Orji, Ogbulafor, senators” on The Sun Online publication on November 22, 2012.
The blurb captivated my interest that I left every other thing I was doing to completely read the story. Also, I was wondering about the reason for the “fear” among Abians as the piece suggested. Eager too, I was begging for the reasons why Gov. Theodore A. Orji and his Abia delegation would want to make Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Abia State, persona non granta in PDP at a time the party needs everyone to sustain strength through growth. As I was reading the story, I cringe at every point where a group of Igbo leaders was putting down and disparaging a fellow Igbo man before a national party because of a political tiff they should have resolved before now.
According to the article, the Abia delegation led by the Abia State governor, Gov. Theodore Orji besieged PDP headquarters to remonstrate the earnest effort of the National Party Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to reconcile with and bring the former Abia State Governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu back to PDP. The delegation included Colonel Austin Akubundu, Senator Nkechi Nwogu, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, and Prince Vincent Ogbulafor. In the delegation’s effort to convince Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to reject Kalu’s alleged attempt to return to PDP, members of the delegation had to eviscerate their prey before the National Chairman.
The delegation claimed that readmitting Kalu would disrupt “the peaceful coexistence and camaraderie” among the party stakeholders in Abia; the effort would be “resisted” in Abia because it “would cause disaffection or return us to the battlefield of hostilities”. The delegation further claimed that the overtures for the return of Kalu, a man the members of the delegation claimed has “turned into a loose cannon and peddler of mischief,” would “reignite the fire of trench warfare among otherwise reconciled members.” Furthermore, members of the Abia delegation also went on to ridicule Orji’s supposedly “lack of electoral value” to demonstrate the man’s lack of importance to PDP.
To buttress their point, they said that “when he left the party that we were able to win all the seats we contested.” The delegation asserted that “there is no need for reconciliation in Abia” and readmitting Kalu would be a “distraction” and “a disservice” to the people of Abia. Sadly, the dour castigation of a fellow Igbo man, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, in public by the so-called Igbo leaders left unsavory chill on me and perhaps on those who work tirelessly for Igbo unity.
Regardless of the substance of their views, the action of the members of the delegation is indeed, emblematic of lack of fulcrum of unity among Igbo people. Sad still, they portrayed themselves as infallible, as well as intransigent, with their statements and actions. Unfortunately, they may have temporarily succeeded in wreaking havoc to the noble process of reconciliation, an objective that is at the heart of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s aspiration to exemplify his leadership. But at last, fair-minded temperament will prevail. Perhaps, Gov. Theodore A. Orji and company forgot to realize that no one is infallible and most importantly, indispensable.
Thus, the protesters too may be considered as effluence in the eyes of others in PDP. If Kalu is so powerful that people would gang up against him, it shows that the man has a great deal of value and those plotting against him must examine themselves thoroughly to find ways to moderate their views of him. The efforts of members of the Abia delegation to vilify Kalu are only seen as vindictive and are aimed at advancing their own individual interests to the detriment of the national party’s collective interest. Igbo leaders should realize that when they disrespect and deride a fellow Igbo person publicly, they are equally diminishing themselves and stepping on their own relevance among the larger community.
The Igbo people are tired of witnessing Igbo leaders tearing each other down publicly. In fact, it does not elevate anyone’s stature to use incendiary statements against another at a time everyone is clamoring for Igbo peace and unity. The major consequence of actions of the Abia delegation, undoubtedly, reinforces other tribes’ grip on power as Igbo stature continues to erode in the Nigerian body polity. By the way, it is rather ironic that those individuals who began their political foray with PPA and ANPP are now objecting the return of one of the founding members of PDP to the party. Gov Theodore Orji, the Abia State governor, was recruited into PPA by Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
Thus, without Kalu, there would not have been Governor T.A. Orji. Senator Nkechi Nwogu, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, and Prince Vincent Ogbulafor all came from ANPP to PDP. Politics is a contact sport with hard-hitting tendencies. Our people should learn to regroup and coalesce at the end of a political cycle for the common good. In politics, you should not exclude anyone. In 2008 candidates Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton fought a hard-hitting primary that ended up straining some relationships. When Obama won the presidency, he nominated Senator Clinton for the Secretary of State. President Obama’s action helped repair the relationship which prompted former President Bill Clinton to campaign relentlessly for President Obama’s reelection.
President Bill Clinton’s assistance in Obama’s campaign was significant in Obama’s reelection. The reconciliatory goal of PDP is what Alhaji Bamanga Tukur promised he would do. When he was in Houston, Texas in April, he said it publicly and during our one on one conversation. He said his policy agenda will be based on his three Rs, which will drive his policy articulation and implementation as the party chairman. Tukur’s presentation led me to believe that Reconciliation, Reformation, and Rebirth would be the veritable concepts that would define his leadership in PDP. According to his reconciliation mantra, he shared with me that he will create a vehicle that would facilitate the returning in droves those individuals that left the party.
He said, “Those who left the party can come back.” In the process, Bamanga Tukur said that he would court everyone that left the party to find a way to get all of them back. He said that he would meet with the aggrieved individuals to resolve the issues with them to pave a way for their return to the party. To the best of my knowledge, the efforts to accomplish this goal have been ongoing.
It is the interest of the party that it should be wholly focused on this exercise; the party should not allow the disparate interests of individuals to scuttle the effort to bring everyone back to the party. The National Chairman cannot allow himself to be used for a group’s self interest. Interest of the party must always remain above myopic interest of individuals.
There is always power in number; as a result, the effort to have Orji Uzor Kalu in the PDP fold must continue. In a party, everyone will not agree on every issue. The ideology of the party will guide every member and drive the agenda. Diversity will nourish, nurture, and sustain the party. The reconciliatory activities of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) should continue without bias, but with fairness and equity. No one should be singled out for denial of consideration for readmission into the party. Regardless of individual idiosyncrasies, PDP has a big tent to accommodate everyone that subscribes to its principles and ideology.
It is my belief that members of PDP pledge to conduct themselves within the tenets of the party. As a result, no individual should have power to destabilize the party locally or nationally. You may follow me on twitter.com/achosr.