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By: Law Mefor
 Published 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 another zone.

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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.

Ordinarily, following 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 ruling party.

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 and when.

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!

Luckily, the 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 aspiration.

The bottom-line: 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. Cell:234-803-787-2893;

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