The recent resignation of the former Imo State Governor, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came to many, within and outside the party as a huge shock. What is, perhaps, not shocking is the tidal wave and the thunderbolts that have inherently trailed his exit, instructive in the deluge of PDP leaders who jointly migrated with him in an unbelievable show of solidarity. Many more are still parting ways with the party in an apparently endless traffic of exoduses, leaving on the party’s trails, carcasses and festering sores.

The mass exodus which has manifestly hit Imo PDP in the past days is neither surprising nor inevitable. The reasons are self-evident. One, it was the cream of Ihedioha’s political associates and supporters who urged him to quit on account of numerous absurdities unfolding in the party. Two, Ihedioha was prior to his exit, the pearl and brand of Imo PDP on account of the robust leadership he had over the years provided for Imo PDP. Three, he was the party’s rallying point in the state after it was torn apart and preposterously sliced, resulting from lingered leadership tussle involving Ahmed Mohammed Markafi and Ali Modu Sheriff. The dynamic steps he took and pursued towards remaking the party with the support of other credible leaders in the state subsequently transformed PDP into a party to beat especially during the 2019 general elections.

Consequently, with Ihedioha as the party’s flagbearer, PDP won the keenly contested 2019 governorship election, in a clear confirmation of supremacy, in spite of the huge resources deployed by the incumbent Governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha to rail-road his son in-law, Uche Nwosu, who ran on the platform of Action Alliance (AA). Similarly, the party was victorious in over 70 per cent of other seats that were contested for, across all the segments of the election.

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Ihedioha’s unmatchable and uncommon performance as Governor for only eight months before the Supreme Court unjustly removed him January 14, 2020 enhanced the party’s positive image and reputation among Imolites which inherently reinforced the party’s dominance in the state. It reawakened people’s confidence in democracy as a bastion of the masses and elixir of societal change and well-being of the people. It also gave the real party men and women a sense of pride and fulfilment. It is therefore unsurprising that the exit of a man who had done so much for the state and the party would precipitate such mass support and large-scale exodus that have never been witnessed in the history of the nation’s shadowy political landscape.

Prior to his exit from the party, April 23, 2024, Ihedioha was known to have had an abiding faith in PDP, demonstrating for decades an unbroken chain of loyalty and steadfastness. As a bourgeoning political actor, he was one of the political elements who founded PDP in 1998. More so, he was deeply involved in the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) that crystallized into the formation of the party by working with Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria who took over the headship of PDM after the death of its founder, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua.

In spite of this long-drawn attachment and commitment to the party and contributions to the growth and development of PDP, Ihedioha with his inexhaustible list of political associates, followers, supporters and admirers took an apparently difficult decision to leave. His reasons to quit border on manifest absurdities, lawlessness and largely compromised system that have enfeebled and weakened the party. “The party is sadly no longer able to carry out internal reforms, enforce its own rules or offer credible opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC),” Ihedioha had stated in his resignation letter while justifying his exit.

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Ihedioha is right. It is evidence-based as drummed up by Hon. Ikenga Ugochinyere, representing Ideato North and South Federal Constituency, House of Representatives that in recent times the soul of the party had been hijacked by a few hawks who are wheeling, dealing and working against the interest of the party ahead of 2027 elections. As a result, the recognized values, tenets and traditions of the party which constituted the bedrock of PDP’s strength, positive public perception and distinctiveness have been annulled by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) resulting in the party’s constitution being operated in utter breach and contempt.

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Instances are multiple and varied. One, is the continued imposition of Senator Samuel Anyanwu as national secretary of the party contrary to the position of the party’s constitution on party officers who decide to run for elective positions. The National Working Committee led by Ambassador Umar Damagum even shut doors to the entire South East leaders and the outcomes of their two critical meetings that absolutely rejected Anyanwu as national secretary based on the provisions of the constitution and officially communicated such to the party’s acting national chairman, Damagum.

The meetings were attended by the only PDP Governor from the zone, Barrister Peter Mbah, Chairman PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Adolphus Wabara, all the former Governors from the zone. All the party officers and leaders who have the statutory mandate to be part of such a meeting attended without exception and endorsed the communication to the acting national chairman which was ignored, prompting an honest reminder by the BOT Chairman, Senator Wabara who pointed out the dangers of disregarding such a weighty zonal party decision. The dangers Wabara warned against are now beginning to unfold with the unprecedented mass exit of authentic and critical party members in Imo.

Two, the NWC also snubbed the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction which directed that Anyanwu should stop parading himself as the national secretary of the party which was never appealed against. Instead NWC was prompt and upbeat to implement a contrary decision of another court of coordinate jurisdiction that sat in Abuja by reinstating him as national secretary thereby provoking unwarranted skirmish in the party. Three, the NWC has refused to invoke the known internal mechanisms of the party to look into the cases of the party leaders who openly and absurdly embarked on anti-party activities that ruined the party’s electoral chances during the last general elections. Not a few party loyalists are worried that such leaders are still looming large and are in stern control of the party’s machinery, soul and spirit; jostling and maneuvering to tie the party’s existence to the stake.

Four, the party has suddenly lost its bite and bile of opposition which is a fundamental component of a virile democracy. The only credible opposition is evidently coming from Peter Obi’s Labour Party. Many party adherents, including the 60 members of the House of Representatives who moved against Damagum prior to the NEC meeting last month believe that the perceived aloofness of the Damagun-led NWC to undertake vibrant opposition underscores their tendency to pursue the script and agenda of the party abductors whose interest is to weaken PDP to make the road to 2027 smoother for the ruling APC. Damagum group failed to use the veritable opportunity offered by last month’s NEC meeting to, implicitly or explicitly, redirect the affairs of the party that is intensely drifting away. The result of this failure is the death knoll that has currently eclipsed the Imo PDP.