By Chukwudi Nweje
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, no doubt has activated its process of reconciliation of all aggrieved members ahead of 2023 general elections. As it appears, the major stakeholders are working round the clock to ensure the party goes into next year’s election as one house.
Daily Sun has observed that the party has adopted a multi-pronged approach to realize its set goal. One of those who is involved in the trouble shooting is the party’s presidential running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
For instance, days after a delegation of the PDP chiefs from Anambra State visited Governor Okowa in Asaba, he reciprocated the gesture in Awka on Sunday to mobilize party members to ensure victory in the 2023 general election.
Besides sharing boundaries, Delta and Anambra states have the common history of affinity and loyalty towards the main opposition party, PDP.
However, while the dominance of the PDP has been open to all in Delta, the party’s resilience in Anambra may have been clouded by the prevalence of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA in the production of the governors of the state since 2006. However, beneath that picture of elusiveness of the governorship seat by the PDP is the dominance of the party in the National Assembly over the years.
The PDP’s repeated failures at the governorship poll have been traced to the inherent bickering among the party’s leaders that has seen it often enmeshing itself in sometimes avoidable crisis ahead of governorship elections.
After his defection to the PDP in 2014, Mr Peter Obi appeared to have emerged the leader of the party in the state but did not win the confidence of the majority of the leaders of the party.
Daily Sun observed that not even his appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan as his coordinator for the South East helped him to lift his political profile at home within Anambra. His leadership of the PDP in the zone also literally turned out a disaster as the party hauled its lowest quantum of votes at that time.
Mr Obi’s challenges were seen in the fact that even after he was able to foist his proteges as governorship candidates in 2017 and 2021, he was unable to deliver the PDP in Anambra State. That record is what his opponents have been using to question his popularity as he bids for the presidency in the 2023 election on the platform of the Labour Party(LP).
Many PDP stakeholders in Anambra believe that his defection to Labour Party is a welcome development and a breath of fresh air for the prophet that is literally not reckoned with at home.
However, his absence is something that has now thrown open the question of leadership of the party in the state, nay, the Southeast zone.
With the two serving PDP governors in the Southeast, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Okeize Ikpeazu (Abia) battling for reckoning after their fraternal dealings with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, it now appears that political stakeholders from the region are gravitating towards Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as a beacon.
Okowa, who emerged as the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP has in recent weeks been playing covert and overt roles in building up the party, especially in the South. He was believed to have played a leading role in the reconciliation of the different PDP tendencies in Osun State ahead of the recent governorship election.
Now in the most eloquent assertion of the apparent emergence of Okowa as the rallying point of unity for the South East PDP, Senator Uche Ekwunife last Wednesday led a delegation of party members from Anambra State to Asaba.
The delegation included former state chairman of the party in the state, Chief Dan Ulasi. The delegation held closed door talks with Okowa following which she told newsmen that the South East was impressed with the contributions of Atiku Abubakar to nation-building and the leadership qualities of Senator Okowa.
She explained that the visit was to intimate their host on their level of mobilisation for PDP in the region, and said that no effort would be spared in ensuring that PDP got a landslide victory for all candidates in the 2023 general elections.
Four days later and as if assuming his position of leadership in the region, Okowa was in Awka, the Anambra State capital last Sunday, where he held talks with PDP stakeholders.
Though a number of them have followed Obi to Labour Party, it was, however, apparent that a substantial bulk of the membership of the party is in place and ready to fight every turf with the Labour Party and APGA in the forthcoming general election.
Okowa was in Awka for the 60th birth anniversary thanksgiving service of Archbishop of Awka Diocese of Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev’d Alexander Ibezim, held at Cathedral Church of Saint Faith, Awka.
Okowa who belongs to the Anglican faith apparently did not mind using the birthday celebration to kill two birds with one stone. He used the opportunity to address party stakeholders and pump up their spirits.
Speaking at the constituency office of Senator Uche Ekwunife at Awka, in a way to draw the party members away from the surge towards Obi told them that the party would win the 2023 presidential election given what he said he knew.
“Looking at what I am seeing this afternoon, I am worried because both APGA and Labour Party are in trouble.
“I must thank the men and the women here for standing strong for the PDP. The party in Anambra will come out alive and will remain strong.
I can assure you that actions are being taken to ensure that we do the right thing in Anambra State. Nobody will write-off Anambra when you have people like these in the party.
“I know that there is a presidential candidate from Anambra but I know that Anambra and Ndigbo will play a major role in the next political dispensation as no zone will be left out and no zone will be cheated because we have equal opportunities for all.
“In the last seven years the South East had not gotten its fair share in this country and we cannot afford to continue in that route. When we went to Osun State, they never gave us a chance but when the result came, we had a very wonderful result. By God’s grace, we will win that election by a landslide because if God had not endorsed it, He would not have allowed me to be on the ticket,” he said.
He commended the Anambra party stakeholders for standing strong for the party, saying, “I must thank all of you for standing strong because in politics, it takes a man who has knowledge and wisdom to know the direction to take their people to.
“A lot of people are being deceived and when we speak about the need to unite Nigeria, people think that we are mistaken.
“I have political wisdom that God gave to me because I understand politics very well and it is not possible to have an accidental president.
“When people talk about Muslim-Muslim ticket, am being careful because I don’t want to get involved in religious politics.
In his welcome remarks, Senator Ben Obi who remarkably had occupied the position of running mate to Atiku Abubakar in 2007 lauded Governor Okowa for always identifying with the PDP in Anambra and for always helping them to resolve issues in the party.
He pledged that the party would reciprocate Okowa’s kind gesture by supporting the Presidential ambition of Atiku Abubakar and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa.
Senator Representing Anambra Central, Uche Ekwunife said the party is formidable in Anambra despite losing out from the last governorship election in the state and assured of the support and goodwill of the people of Anambra to the Atiku-Okowa project.
With Okowa being thrust in the leadership of the PDP in Anambra State, many are watching out the extent to which he can go in other states.