At the first meeting of members of Anambra State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held after they lost the state’s governorship seat to All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2017, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BOT), Mrs. Josephine Anenih had told the gathering that “deceitful tendencies exhibited by certain members” robbed the party the election.
Anenih had further told the gloomy faces that attended the meeting that there was no better time to rebuild the party than then. She insisted that there was another opportunity in the 2019 general election for the party. She was Secretary of the Caretaker Committee set up by the national leadership of the party to midwife the election process as well as set up its structures through the conduct of congresses in the state.
She said if the party could put its house in order, it would sweep the entire seats meant for the state in the National and State Assemblies elections. She noted that such feat would chart a path for PDP to return to Anambra State Government House in 2021. She recalled that PDP lost Anambra State in 2006 to APGA following internal bickering and regretted that all efforts since then to recover the position had come to nought because of indifference among party members.
Mrs. Anenih added at the meeting, which she also presided over following the resignation of Prof. ABC Nwosu, then Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party, saying, “PDP does not belong to any individual. It belongs to all of us. We all have equal rights in the party. We have to start again and there is no better time to start than now. We want to move forward and build a strong, resilient party that will win elections in Anambra State. Some people were masquerading under PDP when they were actually working against the party, which was very unfortunate.
“We must say no to deceit. PDP lost the Anambra governorship election of 2017 and very soon those people who worked against the party will come back to tell us they are members of PDP. We must not allow them. We are going to lay a new foundation and anybody whose plan is to derail our programes must be shown the way out of PDP”
She further admonished members thus: “The greatest honour we can do to our great leader, the late Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme is to rebuild PDP in Anambra State. We must therefore hold our congresses, which should be the first step forward for peace in Anambra PDP”
Anenih said holding the congresses was the final lap of her committee’s assignment, having led the state chapter through the governorship election of that year. However, more than three years after that appeal and about a year into another governorship election in Anambra State, the undercurrents that have marred the chances of the party at returning to power in the state have continued unabated. It was for this singular reason that the national leadership of the party set up the Nwosu Caretaker Committee in 2017 to return the winning streak of the party after it might have settled all scores among members.
Indeed, Nwosu had resigned from the committee soon after the election was won and lost, and abandoning the second leg of the assignment of his committee that should have enthroned elected officials in the party through congresses. Sources said his inability to continue with the assignment was not unconnected with the level of anti-party involvement by certain chieftains of PDP during the election.
It was this development that bestowed responsibility on Anenih and other members of the committee to get their assignment concluded and for which a meeting was called immediately after the election to chart the way forward.
What has continued to plague the party is the claim and counter-claim that a state executive was produced by the Anenih Caretaker Committee before it exited the state. The matter is now a subject to be decided by the Federal High Court in Abuja between the faction that claims they emerged from the congress at the state level, led by Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu and the faction that claims the Caretaker Committee was yet to conclude its activities, and led by Sir Chukwudi Umeaba.
While Mrs. Anenih claims that her committee conducted congresses that produced ward, local government and state executive members for the party and had also handed over to Chief Nwobu, as state chairman, the faction led by Umeaba insists that the caretaker committee was alive and had not conducted congresses for the state’s chairman and other officials as state executive members.
How it started
Akelicious gathered that after Nwosu’s resignation as chairman, the NWC of the party allegedly appointed Umeaba as his replacement. Umeaba claimed that on the strength of the appointment, he supervised the conduct of ward congress election on November 28, 2017 and Local government congress election on December 1, 2017.
He stated that he suspended the conduct of state congress that should have produced state officials following irregularities and non-compliance with party guidelines and constitution, particularly the alleged attempt to use a fake delegate list by Prof. the Osita Ogbu-led state congress committee appointed by the party. He also said the inability to elect officials at state level gave his caretaker committee more room to continue in their work, adding, however, that perturbed by the development, Nwobu, who was one of the aspirants for the position of chairmanship, had gone to a high court in Abuja and secured orders to be recognized as chairman of the party, which the national leadership obeyed and swore him into office on September, 29, 2018.
Umeaba said things, however, turned awry for Nwobu when he allegedly refused to work with other officials elected and inaugurated from the ward and local government congresses and instead constituted another executive at those levels to work with him. Umeaba said the development triggered anger among the elected officials at those levels, who then instituted a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, against Nwobu.
The court had, on December 17, 2019, decided on the suit and ordered the sack of Nwobu and restored the Umeaba Caretaker Committee to continue in office, while holding that a state congress should be conducted. On July 10 this year, the matter came up but was adjourned for hearing on July 24, while the order mandating Umeaba to continue to act as caretaker committee chairman was retained.
But Mrs. Anenih, who is a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BOT) and who midwifed the alleged state congresses, lamented that the state chapter had returned on a warpath after the efforts of her committee to institute a recognised and acceptable executive at all levels in the state after the 2017 governorship election.
She told Akelicious that claims of the caretaker committee by Umeaba were not true, stressing that she co-opted him (Umeaba) to work with the committee when Nwosu resigned and that the assignment of the group ended with the successful election and inauguration of the elected executives through congress elections.
“The assignment of caretaker is like an ad hoc one,” she said. “It has a lifespan, which is immediately its assignment has ended. In our case, we made sure the party participated in the election and returned to conduct congresses at the ward, local government and state levels. That development concluded our work and I handed over to Ndubisi Nwobu as state chairman.
“So, anybody talking about the caretaker committee is trying to create confusion and crisis. The claim of caretaker and court is a subterfuge to ensure that there is no peace in Anambra PDP. That’s all. We were not appointed caretaker committee ad infinitum. There is nothing like a caretaker committee that will stay on and on. Caretaker is like an ad hoc committee”.
Mrs. Anenih stated that the problem with Anambra PDP centres on a few self-styled godfathers, who “see politics as business. They would never allow peace to reign in the state chapter because when that is done, they would lose relevance and money.” She stressed that the inability of the party to recover power in the state, which it lost several years ago to APGA, was due to the activities of the said group.
“You can see that they have returned again and they are using a man I co-opted in our committee,” she lamented. “That he was co-opted does not make him the caretaker committee chairman. Who appointed him?
“I was the cecretary of that committee appointed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. Our mandate was very clear and that was to go and hoist back the flag of PDP in Anambra State by running in the election and conduct congresses to put back the party’s structure, which we did. We elected PDP state executives, elected PDP local government executives, and ward executives throughout the state. That state congress produced Ndubisi Nwobu as the state chairman and many others. As the secretary, who acted as chairman when Nwosu resigned, I handed over to Nwobu and it was at that point that the work of the caretaker ended in Anambra State PDP.”
Anenih said it was unthinkable that certain individuals could go to any length to destroy efforts of the national leadership to make Anambra PDP work again, stressing, “You can see that the governorship election is coming and what they are trying to do is to ensure that they cause confusion and trade off the party to the highest bidders from other parties. In the end, the ultimate loser will be PDP.”
At a meeting in Enugu a few weeks ago, called specifically over Anambra PDP chapter, National Vice Chairman (Southeast) of the party, Chief Austin Umahi warned that the party would visit those causing crisis in Anambra State chapter with sanctions and advised them to withdraw all court cases over the leadership of the state chapter. Umahi, who lamented that the attitude of certain individuals had continued to rob the party of the opportunity to recover power, explained that his leadership had kept quiet for too long in the belief that those fomenting trouble would retrace their steps.
But no sooner had the meeting ended than the Umeaba-led faction dismissed the threat, accusing Umahi of lacking the capacity to speak for Southeast PDP. Umeaba insisted that the four-year tenure of the Umahi-led executive expired on May 14 this year, adding that the party was looking for their replacement.He also accused them of meddling in the problem of Anambra State chapter, but stressed that his executive would not succumb to their threat, saying that the tenure of his executive was valid by the order of the court. The way things are, it is not certain that PDP in Anambra State might enter the next governorship election with it’s house intact. However, it will be clearer in the coming days how the party would prosecute the governorship election.