Orji Kalu: Blessing or curse to PDP?

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 28 February 2013 | 5,483 times

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At a brief ceremony held at the Finbarrs’ Road secretariat, Umuahia, of the Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), two Caretaker Committees comprising 11 members each were inaugurated to run the affairs of PDP Ward A and B in Igbere, Bende Local Government Area.

Performing the ceremony on Tuesday, Chairman of PDP in Bende Local Government, Chief Ihendu Eke, said putting the caretaker committees in place became necessary following the recent resignation, en masse, of the former PDP executives of the two wards in Igbere.

“We are here to witness the formal inauguration of the caretaker committees of PDP for Igbere Ward A and B. You will recall that on 10th January, 2013, the elected ward executive committee members of PDP in Igbere Ward A and B resigned their positions and memberships of our party.

“Subsequently, the two ward executive chairmen and secretaries returned the party registers and membership cards. I and other members of the LGA executive committee, after several meetings with party leaders at the state and local government levels, and following due process in line with our party constitution, secured approval from the state to constitute caretaker committees to run the affairs of the two wards in Igbere until ward congresses will hold to elect new executive for the wards. It is with sense of responsibility that I stand here today to inaugurate the caretaker committees for PDP Igbere Wards A and B as a child of circumstance,” Eke said.

With those remarks, he inaugurated the caretaker committees to set the hall reverberating in jubilation.

The ceremony attracted political heavy weights from Igbere and the entire Bende Local Government. Prominent among them were the Deputy Majority Leader of the Abia State House of Assembly, Chief Pincewill Onyegbu, Chief Kalu Eke Kalu, the PDP Zonal Chairman, Abia North, Professor Samuel Igwe, former Vice Chancellor of Abia State University, Uturu, Chief Jerry Kalu, Ambassador Philips, Dr Eme Okoro and Pastor Chuzzy Iboko, regarded as the PDP bulwark in Igbere, to mention just a few. The ceremony is one of the chain reactions that have greeted the alleged readmission of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu into PDP.

Abians were taken aback on January 18, 2012 when they woke up to be bombarded with the news that Kalu had been readmitted into the party the previous day at his Camp Neya, Igbere country home.

According to the news, the former ward executives had resolved to admit new people and re-admit old members wishing to return to the PDP fold in the spirit of the reconciliation agenda of the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP.

Rising from their meeting, the executives were said to have issued a new membership card to Kalu, thus ending his spirited battle to return to PDP of which he was a founding member before dumping it in 2007 to float his own party, the Progressing Peoples Alliance (PPA).

With PPA losing steam following the dramatic loss of the states (Abia and Imo) it won in 2007, Kalu dumped the party also and has since 2010 been making frantic efforts to return to PDP. But the party chieftains created difficult road blocks for him.

Kalu’s return bid, expectedly, has met with stiff resistance for obvious reasons. First is the irreconcilable differences between him and Governor Theodore Orji as well as other notable Abia politicians who are nursing several grudges against the former governor.

Second is the pervading belief among the PDP family that Kalu, widely regarded as the stormy petrel of Abia politics, does not have any genuine reason for returning to PDP except to sow seeds of discord.

Abia PDP, with Kalu as state governor and leader of the party, was in perpetual crisis which is the opposite of the peace and harmony existing since Governor Theodore Orji became its leader after rejoining the party in 2010.

And since Kalu purportedly returned to PDP, the Abia State chapter has not remained the same. Media reports have credited Kalu with saying that he has returned to PDP to reposition it and save if from corrupt and deceitful leaders.

He was also quoted as saying that he returned because members of the state House of Assembly and executive council have complained to him that they were not getting much under Governor Orji. Both the legislators and members of the Abia executive council have denied this claim.

Worse still, efforts to discredit the administration of Governor Orji have increased in tempo since Kalu was said to have been readmitted. Faceless groups known as Abia Voice and OUK Boys, among others, have been sending text messages to people, levying serious allegations against Orji’s administration and Abia PDP state executives.

These account for why Kalu’s purported comeback, believed to have the support of the party’s NWC, and his comments have literally set Abia PDP on fire as it has generated negative reactions.  

Major stakeholders of Abia PDP who raced to Abuja last November to warn the NWC of the dire consequences of allowing Kalu to return to the party had predicted that PDP in Abia would relapse into anarchy if Kalu realised his ambition.

The inauguration of caretaker committees to run the affairs of PDP in Igbere afforded Kalu’s kinsmen another opportunity to restate their stiff opposition to his purported re-admission into the party. They said they do not want Kalu back to the party.

In his remarks during the ceremony, Professor Samuel Igwe noted that Kalu has not manifested an example of good followership.

“First of all, you must be a good follower before you can be a good leader. There is no way you can be a good leader without first of all being a good follower. We must not allow our brother to bring Bende to ridicule,” Igwe said.

He added: “In matters relating to relationships, people relate only when they agree. As much as you have the right to freedom of association, so also do I have the freedom of association. I will associate with whom I want to associate with. We don’t want to be associated with our brother even though he has declared his interest to associate with us.

“His mission is to create factions in Abia PDP.  What our brother wants to do is to apply the concept of what I cannot have, I destroy. This peace, unity, rapport and harmony we are enjoying from Abia, from the local governments to the centre, anyone who has the intention to destroy it will not succeed. Such a person is an enemy of Abia people.

“We have left Egypt, we cannot go back to Okija and all the other shrines. We can’t peel melon for anyone again.  We have left the desert, we have found Jordan, we have crossed the Red Sea. We are in the Promised Land. All we need to do is to consolidate our foundation in the Promised Land,” he said.

Igwe’s views was a reaffirmation of the position of Bende leaders/stakeholders who had flatly rejected any attempt to bring Kalu back to PDP.

After an emergency meeting held at the party secretariat in Bende on January 21, 2013, the leaders/stakeholders issued a three-point communiqué insisting that the party in Bende “has not changed its position nor lifted the embargo on the readmission of Kalu into PDP in Bende.” 

The 47 persons who endorsed the communiqué include the two state legislators from Bende, Princewill Onyegbu (Bende South) and Hon Ndukwe Ojukwu (Bende North) as well as the chairman and secretary of PDP in Bende, Chief Ihendu B. Eke and Oji H. Idika, respectively, were categorical that no member of PDP in Bende has been given the mandate to either lobby Kalu to rejoin the party or to receive the membership card of PDP “as is currently being claimed by the former governor.”

“We find it insulting, though laughable, the claim by Chief Orji Uzor Kalu that he obtained the membership card of our great party the same day he also obtained the membership card of Progressive Peoples Alliance,” the leaders added in the communiqué.

While acknowledging that Kalu has been engaged in “subterranean manoeuvres” at the national and ward levels to return to PDP, the party leaders in Bende stated that the founder of PPA “would again sow seeds of discord and create unhealthy and undemocratic environment in Bende homeland,” warning against any attempt to “to use our Bende Homeland as a platform for unhealthy, potentially explosive and divisive tactics to achieve certain personal gains.”

On Friday, February 22, 2013, thousands of PDP faithful from the 17 local government areas of the state thronged Umuahia to also protest Kalu’s alleged readmission into the party.

The protesters marched through the major streets of the capital city, chanting anti-Kalu songs and displaying placards with various inscriptions like “Orji Kalu stay in your failed PPA,” “OUK
means confusion.”
They ended their march at Government House where they submitted a protest letter to Governor Orji. In the address read by the chairman of PDP in Ohafia Local Government, Chief Kingsley Imaga, the protesters said that they were vehemently opposed to Kalu’s purported return to the ruling party, describing him as a cog in the wheel of progress of the state. “We do not want to identify with a cog in the wheel of our progress as a people. We do not want to go back to idolatry,” Imaga said.

According to him, Kalu was hell-bent on rubbishing the sterling achievements of Governor Orji having presided over eight years of stunted growth in Abia, which Orji was now reversing with his legacy projects across the state.

The state executive of Abia PDP was the first to disabuse the minds of Abians as soon as the news filtered into town that Kalu had been readmitted into the party.

The state party chairman, Senator Emma Nwaka, maintained that Kalu has not been readmitted but has been deceived by those who issued him with fake membership card.

Nwaka told newsmen that the PDP membership card with registration Serial Number – 9787945 issued  to Kalu was fake while those who gave him the card had no legal powers to do so, having resigned en masse from their positions  and the party. He further that the original PDP membership card for the wards in Igbere began with 95, not 97.

Nwaka, in his disclaimer, said: “In so far as PDP Abia State is concerned, we believe in freedom of association. But we also believe that a group can for whatever reason decide what to do. Freedom of association is not imposition. What we are practicing is democracy and it is a game of numbers. So if we are five in a room and somebody wants to come in and four of us say no, for Christ’s sake, that should be respected and that is democracy.”

Nwaka insisted that Kalu should “come in through the right way” if he wishes to return to the party.

He elaborated the stand of Abia PDP further during the inauguration of the wards caretaker committees for Igbere PDP, saying:

“I have heard people talk about freedom of association. Freedom of association takes place when two people agree to work together. You cannot impose yourself on me and call it freedom of association. Your freedom to associate with me stops when I say I do not want to associate with you. Short gun marriages don’t last.

“So, we have the freewill to associate with who we like. When you talk about political party, you are talking about people with common focus, common intention and here I believe that our common intention is to make Abia better.

“This party does not belong to me, it does not belong to anyone here. PDP is like a Public Limited Company and for every shareholder, our votes count.”

The leadership of the PDP in the South East agrees, saying it has rejected the attempt by Kalu to rejoin the party.

A statement by the National Vice Chairman of South East PDP, Col. Austin Akobundu (Rtd), said that the South East PDP has written a report to the national leadership of the party reaffirming that not only has Kalu not been readmitted, the party in the zone has no intention whatsoever of doing so.

The PDP National Vice Chairman stated categorically that the purported readmission was in contravention of Article 8, section 8 of the constitution of the party as (amended) and therefore void ab initio.

According to Akubundu, the zone has reason to believe that Kalu is a paid agent of a Presidential aspirant whose mandate is to destabilize the party in the South East zone, saying that it is for that reason that Kalu’s attempt to rejoin the party has been roundly rejected by his ward, Local government and state chapters of the party.

The fears expressed by the party faithful and the reality on ground are firm indicators that Abia PDP is in the throes of and sliding deeper into war of attrition.

Observers believe that the worse is yet to come as the Kalu group and the Abia PDP would intensify their battle for supremacy as 2015 approaches. Only the NWC of PDP can save the situation. Otherwise, it would be laying Abia bare for the opposition parties who are watching the unfolding drama with keen interest and amusement.

•Photo: Sir Emeka Ananaba, Deputy Governor Abia State addressing PDP members from the 17 LGAs of Abia state who came on a protest against readmission of former Abia state governor, Orji Uzor Kalu to the party in Umuahia.

Source: News Express

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