DONS EZE, PhD

SOUTH EAST PDP LEADERSHIP AND THE UGWUANYI CHALLENGE

With the recent adoption of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State as the new leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South East geopolitical zone, a big burden has been placed upon his shoulders.

Acting Chairman of the PDP in the South East, Ali Odefa, who made the announcement, explained that Gov Ugwuanyi was adopted as the PDP new leader following the defection of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State to the All Progressives Congress (APC), on November 17, 2020.

”We unanimously adopted Governor Ugwuanyi as leader of PDP in the South East zone because of his immeasurable contributions in the region. We are sure and satisfied that he will lead South East PDP to success,” Odefa said, adding that the party had considered Ugwuanyi’s outstanding performance in office, and in a consensus, adopted him as leader of the party.

While congratulating Governor Ugwuanyi on his new appointment, we however note that leadership is never a tea party, but carries a lot of responsibilities, particularly for PDP in the South East, whose fortunate, had in recent times, been on the downward trend.

At the inception of the present political dispensation in 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party had its feet firmly stamped in the South East. In fact, the PDP could rightly be said to have originated from the South East.

The founder and National leader of the PDP, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, was from the South East. The first National Secretary of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, is from the South East. Pioneer Senate President, Evans Enwerem, his successors – Chuba Okadigbo, Anyim Pius Anyim, Ken Nnamani, Adolphus Wabara, all PDP members, were from the South East.

Apart from the South East producing the first PDP national leader, Alex Ekwueme, two National Chairmen of the party, Vincent Ogbulafor and Okwesilieze Nwodo, equally came from the South East. Also at inception, all the five governors of the South East, belonged to the PDP. These were the glorious years of PDP in the South East.

Gradually, and with time, the South East began to lose these prime positions in the PDP. First, the zone lost Anambra State to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). This was followed by the loss of Imo State to the All Progressives Congress (APC), and later, Ebonyi State to the same APC. Thus, out of the five states in the South East, the PDP now controls only two states – Enugu and Abia.

At the national level, the South East has become an orphan, or a stranger. Currently, the zone does not hold any strategic position in the PDP leadership. The only position alloted to it is the National Youth Leader.

In the National Assembly, the South East holds only the position of Senate Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Leader in the House of Representatives. With such inconsequential positions, the voice of the South East could hardly be heard in national politics, nor would the zone be able to influence anything in the country.

As events later turned out, there is no doubt that the reason why the South East PDP is in such pathetic position and losing grounds by the day was due to the problem of leadership. Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, who was the leader of the party in the zone, had his one leg in the PDP, and the other leg elsewhere. The implication was that from the onset, Umahi was never committed in building a strong PDP in the South East. He was after his personal interest.

That is why the task now before Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the new leader of PDP in the South East is enormous. He should put his ingenuity at work to bring everybody on board so that PDP in the South East would be speaking with one voice The South East should no longer be seen as a stranger in the house, which it laboured so hard to build.

The PDP was born in the South East, and nurtured in the South East. The PDP is at the heart of the average Southeastner, all the other political parties in the area, apart from APGA, are mercantilists.

For the South East PDP to be reckoned with in national politics, Governor Ugwuanyi should start by building a strong base at home, for as they say, charity begins at home. He should not allow divisive elements to truncate the peaceful coexistent of the people of Enugu State, merely for selfish interests.

Perhaps, the immediate task before Governor Ugwuanyi as he paddles the affairs of PDP in the South East, is the Anambra State Governorship election, which is in the offing. Anambra State is undoubtedly a PDP state, but due to personal pride or ego, nobody will agree to step down for the other, in the end everybody will be a loser.

Governor Ugwuanyi should not allow this to continue. He should deploy his negotiating prowess in order to make every PDP member in Anambra State realize that politics is not a do or die affair, a game of give and take.

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