•Delegation storms party headquarters to protest
From TAIWO AMODU, Abuja
The reconciliatory efforts of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) National Working Committee, (NWC) suffered a setback yesterday as chieftains of the party stormed the party’s national secretariat in Abuja to protest the rumoured return of former Abia State Governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, to the party.
Led by the Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, the PDP chieftains from the state told the PDP NWC that its proposed trouble shooting visits to state chapters of the party was not welcomed in Abia as the party members were relating well with one another.
The National Vice-Chairman, South-East, of the PDP, Colonel (rtd) Austin Akubundu, who read ‘the position paper of the Abia Stakeholders on the re-admission of Chief Orji Uzor Kalu to the party,’ submitted that the return of the former governor would undermine the peaceful co-existence and camaraderie, existing among party stalwarts in the state.
While they lauded the initiative of the party’s national leadership to reconcile aggrieved members, the Abia PDP stakeholders cautioned that any attempt to readmit the former governor “would cause disaffection or return us to the battlefield of hostilities and would be stoutly resisted.”
Akubundu further claimed that Orji Uzor Kalu’s return was inimical to the growth of the party in Abia State, adding that the former governor was not an asset to PDP.
He said: “Since his exit, PDP in Abia State has gone round the crisis and emerged from those experiences an entirely different entity which today celebrates a prevailing atmosphere of unanimity, being relieved of the common source of deep-seated animosities and resentment. You may have also heard it elsewhere that the exit of the former governor was the rallying point in reconciling aggrieved members and setting the party on a sounder electoral footing.
“If the rumours making the round presently, that he has been making surreptitious moves to be readmitted into the party’s fold are correct, then there will surely be cataclysmic consequences for the party in Abia State. This controversial and wholly unnecessary move will re-ignite the fire of trench warfare among otherwise reconciled members.’’
They further alleged that the former governor wanted to return to the party fold in order to use its platform for his 2015 presidential ambition.
Akubundu said further: ’’On the strength of our usually reliable intelligence gathered from his loyalists, his sole objective seeking to rejoin the party is to use its platform to pursue his presidential ambition. It is a ploy that would escalate tensions within the ranks of the party; he is coming not to build but to destabilize… His presence will add neither quality nor quantity . His comprehensive defeat in the 2011 Abia North Senate race exposed his lack of electoral value.
“It was only when he left the party that we were able to win all the seats we contested. He has recently turned into a loose canon and peddler of mischief.’’
The Abia State governor, Theodore Orji, who made his remarks after the presentations by Colonel Austin Akubundu, Senators Nkechi Nwogu and Eyinnaya Abaribe and former National Chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, told the party’s national leadership to align itself with the feeling of the party’s chieftains.
He said: “Your Excellency, we have come with full hearts to show the world that we support you. Secondly, this is democracy.
“My people have spoken and I don’t need to repeat what they have said. Our strength has been that we fought a common enemy. If we have to retain that strength, we have to keep the common enemy at bay. There is no need for reconciliation in Abia; we are at peace with ourselves. We don’t want any distraction in Abia, as it will be a disservice to our people.”
Reacting to their position, the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, assured them that their remarks would not be discountenanced, as he noted that “democracy is about choice.’’
Tukur said: “The people have spoken. People who talked here mentioned one thing: peace, harmony. That’s what I want. My mission is reconciliation without confrontation. I thank the party faithful who followed you; they have made our party great. All I can assure you is that we are here to ensure that the cordial relationship reigns.”
But in an earlier statement on the possibility of his returning to the party, Kalu had said that it was not on his agenda.
He said his present pre-occupation with the Njiko Ndigbo pressure group would not even enable him to show bias towards any party for now.
He said: “My concern now is for Igbo presidency in 2015. Any party that would give Ndigbo the platform to get to the presidency in 2015 is the one I will align with.”
However, Kalu said that if it took so many people from Abia State, many of whom he noted do not have followers, to go beg PDP to illegally fence him out in a democracy, then it was an indication of the fact that he is still the issue in Abia State politics.