Austin Umahi

With the election of Austin Umahi as the new Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party for the South-east zone, chances are that the party might get back on track, Benjamin Nworie writes

It’s the wish of members of the Peoples Democratic Party that old things should pass away and let new life begin in the party. It’s also the wish of the PDP fans and supporters that the party’s historical defeat should not demoralise the party from forging ahead and strategising to reclaim power in subsequent elections in the country, taking notes of the factors that pulled the party down. However, with Austin Umahi, as the new Vice Chairman of PDP in the South-east zone, the party stands good chances to reclaim its lost glory.

With the internal crises and mudslinging that riddled the Peoples Democratic Party, which unfortunately led to the factionalisation of the party by the aggrieved stalwarts in 2014, when some governors broke away at the national convention of the party to form the New PDP, which contributed to the loss of the presidential election, the party has been advised to properly look inwards, and devise a functional approach in dealing with varied interests and internal politics.

The problem of PDP has majorly hinged on clash of interest and over-bearing tendencies of some bigwigs, who always want their voices to be heard in all matters. With the defeat of the party in 2015, after being in power for 16 years, hoping to rule for 60 years, the PDP is expected to critically examine the situations and challenges that led to its defeat in the presidential election.

To start the examination, the need to elect credible and popular officers that would steer the ship of governance in all the wards, local, state, zonal and national levels should be of paramount importance.
Over time, people of the South-east, known as Ndi Igbo had adopted the PDP as a true nationalist party and this may underscore the fact that it has remained a dominant political party in the zone. However, with the victory of the APC at the presidential election, Observers believed that if PDP did not put its house in order and resolve its intra-party differences, the APC may begin to occupy the political territory in the zone. This is because the Igbos can’t adapt or survive in opposition coupled with their age long marginalisation in the country.

In Ebonyi State, the PDP though has existed seriously unchallenged since the return of democracy in 1999; it has always put to bear some of the issues that may trigger mixed feelings among stakeholders and members at a distance.
In the just concluded congresses, which were adjudged to be the most credible and peaceful in the state as most of the executives emerged unopposed, the reconciliation and harmonisation strategies paid off in the peaceful conduct of the congresses.

This is also not surprising because the state governor, David Umahi, who was once the state PDP chairman must have known the intrigues and demands of party politics and did not relent or take a softer line in making sure that PDP has leaders that would lead it to victory in subsequent elections in the state.

In preparing itself to retake its lost glory in the zone, the PDP is expected to extend its tentacles to the two opposition states in the South-east – Anambra and Imo – and other zones in the country. The South-east needs a leader that will not be parochial; a leader that will place public interest above his or group; a leader that will not succumb to intimidation just to dance to the tone of some power brokers or so called god-fathers; a true leader that will belong to everybody and at the same time, belong to nobody.

The party craves a leader that will pay optimum attention to superior demands of the people and the party in accordance with the constitution; most importantly, a leader that will be accountable, transparent and abhors bribery and corruption – a leader that will not give preference to the highest bidder and will be a good manager of people and resources.

After a solemn search and series of zoning arrangements and peaceful harmonisation, the leaders of the party found the proper and fit person in Ebonyi state. In this apparent journey of self-recovery, the PDP has taken a bold step to elect a person of proven character, groomed in the private sector to lift the party to an enviable height.
At the Michael Okpara Square in Enugu on May 14, the party overwhelmingly elected a Chartered Accountant, Mr Austin Umahi, who is the younger brother to the Ebonyi State governor to pilot the affairs of the party in the zone, as the zonal vice chairman, replacing Col. Austin Akobundu (Rtd).

The Choice of Umahi has been described in many quarters as a welcome development and a right step in the right direction so that he would handle the party with as much dexterity and commitment. With him, no doubt, PDP would be rebuilt and rebranded and would therefore serve as reference point for emulation.

Not only because he’s the younger brother to the governor, Umahi, too has also contributed immensely to the stability, peace and growth of the PDP in Ebonyi State. As hopes and open doors beckon on the party with Umahi’s election in the zone, he has maintained that part of his cardinal points was to reach out to the aggrieved members and embark on a serious membership drive that would be rooted on true and genuine reconciliation.

As a servant leader, Umahi said he would work cordially with the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmadu; Governors of Abia (Okezie Ikpeazu); Ebonyi (David Umahi); Enugu (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi), National and state assembly members, PDP states chairmen, captains of industries and all the stakeholders in all the five states in the zone.

He promised to abide by the constitution of the party in his official conducts and to have a wider horizon to go into Anambra and Imo to recapture the two states, noting that what destroyed the party was intra party politics.
For Anambra, he noted that the ruling party in the state, APGA has remained their worthy partner but it would not stop PDP from winning the state so that they would become a superior partner with the All Progressives Grand Alliance. But in the case of Imo, he expressed confidence that PDP has the opportunity to recapture the state because with what’s happening in the state, the Imolites have seen that there was no alternative to the PDP.

“We were not really united inside the party and that was why other parties took advantage of it. Let us tell ourselves the truth, one thing that destroyed the two states is the clash of the titans. As the new VC of South-east, I will go into wide and serious consultation.

“I am ready to learn and listen. Some people, in truth, have been aggrieved and wronged. We must say this bitter truth by calling a spade, a spade. We will try to talk to them and see how they will come back to the party and see how to rebuild the party and make it what it was and what it ought to be.”

He noted that there were big and enormous challenges and there were going to be obstacles but the obstacles would be his climbing ladder. “APC is campaigning for PDP. It’s just for PDP to put their house in order and possess their possession. This is because people are already disenchanted, disillusioned; they want PDP’s real change not hardship.”
It’s expected that as Umahi takes charge of the PDP in the South-east, he would imbue in himself, the developmental initiatives and wisdom known to his family, by surpassing the good works of his brother in Ebonyi so that stability, peace and unity will continue to exist in the party.

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After a solemn search and series of zoning arrangements and peaceful harmonisation, the leaders of the party found the proper and fit person in Ebonyi state. In this apparent journey of self-recovery, the PDP has taken a bold step to elect a person of proven character, groomed in the private sector to lift the party to an enviable height…With him, no doubt, PDP would be rebuilt and rebranded and would therefore serve as reference point for emulation.