March 15th, 2011
With the news of the search party for PDP National
Chairmanship reaching a consensus on Chief Agunwa Anaekwe
former speaker of the House of Representatives for Nwodo’s
replacement, making the rounds, the south east zone would
have heaved a sigh of relief. The zone has been crying foul
for being denied the office of the chairman zoned to it. But
the political undercurrents evident in the PDP polity are
still suggesting that the south east may never get the
replacement of Dr. Nwodo.
The fact is that the Acting National Chairman of the party,
Haliru Mohammed, is sitting tight, and doing so with the
active support of those who should have ensured he never
acted in the first place. The first tactical blunder - or
mischief - was asking Haliru Mohammed to act in the place of
Dr. Nwodo when the latter was forced out of office. Since
the office was officially zoned to the south east by the
party, the deputy national chairman south east should have
stepped in, in acting capacity and not Haliru Mohammed from
Perhaps unknown to the
generality of the south east people, the final death nail is
being driven into the confine of relegating them to the
backwaters of the nation’s political life for years to come.
Many say this is partly their making for being part of the
agitation for the removal of one of their own Dr.
Okwesilieze Nwodo as the PDP chairman. But apportioning
blames for the shameful removal of Nwodo is like crying over
spilled milk; the solution lies in giving the south east
their due by restoring the zone to the office of chairman of
the PDP as guaranteed by the constitution of the party.
the PDP zoning arrangement, another Igbo man succeeding Dr.
Okwesilieze Nwodo should not be contentious and wouldn’t
have been controversial if it concerned another zone. But
the growing contempt for the south east as inconsequential
in present-day Nigeria by the rest of the country is now
responsible for the trampling they receive at every turn,
the PDP chairmanship being a typical example.
There is little doubt
that the political permutation is that National Chairmanship
stays north since the south now holds the office of the
president following the death of President Umaru Musa
Yar’Adua. But the fact remains that President Jonathan is
expending the balance of the tenure of the joint ticket he
holds with late the president, and the other zones in the
country all holding unto the slots zoned to them by the
It is therefore
worrisome that the PDP leaders may have deliberately chosen
to crush the south east nay Ndigbo into the mire of
inferiority and apathy by confiscating from them the office
of the PDP National Chairman. By doing so, the south east
zone has been effectively excluded from the PDP National
Working Committee, the main party organ that sits in
decisions and advises the president on who gets what, where
To be sure, the zoning
arrangement of the PDP is a wise response to the demands
ensuring federal character in the distributions of key
federal offices. Long before the zoning principle was
adopted by the party the nation had evolved the Federal
Character Principle and set up a commission to supervise its
implementation. How that commission has poorly faired is a
story for another day. Save to state, in principle, the
zoning idea remains a wise one in a federal polity that is
skewed with too many injurious imbalances that have left the
nation so weak and undeveloped.
The point at issue -
PDP chairmanship and the future of Ndigbo - needs to be
further put in the perspective. Many say those who plot
against the Igbo interest are mainly within the Igbo land.
Such undeniable self-inflicted injury is a tetchy issue but
not a deciding one. For there is no place the fifth
columnist does not exist. Even Jesus Christ could not avoid
a Judas Iscariot who eventually did Him in.
For bigger measure,
the collapsed consensus candidate for the north rendered
their once famed unity a myth to everybody’s chagrin. So,
disunity is not Igbo exclusivity but a human flaw that
besets all parts of the country. And even if it were an Igbo
thing, it still does not vitiate the fact that there is a
subsisting right to the office of the national chairman of
the party that is unjustifiably being denied the zone.
What is more, without
the zone being represented properly in the party’s decision
making organs at the center, one can be certain that
protection of their interest in the coming dispensation in
the likely event that the PDP retains power at the center
will not suffice. Third rate ministries and parastatals will
certainly be reserved for the south east since there will be
no one to speak for it where such decisions will be taken.
If there is a ministry for national cemeteries that they
will get for sure!
president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, is plainly
an evenhanded person and the leader of the party, and is not
likely to sit on the collective destiny of the south east
people if the matter is properly brought to his attention.
There is no doubt that he will right this wrong and the
earlier he does so the better.
It is also true the
president is busy with campaigns and selling himself and his
policies across the country. Nonetheless, this is one
national issue that is as important as the presidential
campaign and, if corrected, will have its dynamo effect even
in the president’s electoral fortunes in the south east zone
that has pledged its unconditional support to his
Ndigbo can no longer be taken for a ride in Nigeria project
they have made the most contributions towards its
sustainability without a repercussion and how this national
chairman of the PDP is resolved may set the tone.
Law Mefor, Author and Journalist, is Director, Center for
Leadership, Social and Forensic Research, Abuja.