By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Asaba, the Delta State capital, was agog on Friday as the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held a general meeting to celebrate the victory of the Senator Ahmed Markafi-led Caretaker National Committee at the Supreme Court with the party leaders united in warning against all forms of impunity under the new dispensation ushered in by the court victory.
The leaders also urged all members of the party to be magnanimous in victory and not to engage in divisive activities by trying to shut the door against others who belonged to so-called other faction of PDP before the landmark apex court victory. Okowa, Uduaghan, state PDP chairman, Chief Kingsley Esiso, Chairman of PDP (South-South zone), Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, Speaker of the state legislature, Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, ex-information minister, Prof Sam Oyovbaire and party board of trustees member, Senator Stella Omu, harped on the need to respect the supremacy of the party and promote inclusiveness principle especially at the grassroots.
Okowa, was joined by other party leaders and members including the immediate past governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, whose entry into the meeting was greeted with a rousing salute from the large audience who were in celebration mood. Uduaghan’s presence at the state general meeting would lay to rest the rumoured plan of the former governor to desert the party, an allegation that was fueled by Uduaghan’s widely reported absence from the public gathering of the party tagged “PDP Mega Rally” recently held at Sapele.
Following their conspicuous non-attendance at the said rally, Uduaghan, ex-governor James Ibori and the impeached speaker of state house of assembly, Hon Monday Igbuya was interpreted in some quarters as indicative of cracks in the wall for the state PDP and possibly a quiet objection to the widespread endorsement of Okowa for a second term as Governor.
Uduaghan, who commended his successor for what he called and excellent work particularly in the area of road construction across the state in the last two years, stressed that the envisaged reborn PDP must move away from the old practice whereby elected and appointed political office holders saw their offices seemed to forget that they were holding such positions in trust for the entire party.
Recounting his experience during his eight-year tenure, the former governor also warned against baseless and malicious criticism of the governor by not just members of the PDP but even by those holding different positions in the government.
Uduaghan said, “If you are holding political position, the only way we can build our party is to spread democratic dividends. Don’t forget that any position you are holding, whether elected or appointed, you are holding it in trust for the party.
“It is very wrong to make baseless but damaging criticism of government’s efforts and projects instead of giving encouragement. I must congratulate you again; I think in the area of road construction, Governor Okowa has done excellently well; and, you should not run down the government, especially if you are holding a political office.â€
Governor Okowa expressed delight over the Supreme Court victory but noted that the victory had also thrown up a new challenge to do away with costly past mistakes like impunity among leaders to rebuild the party that Nigerians were clearly yearning for today in the interest of the country’s democracy
According to the governor, “You don’t scare away new members. No, you receive them with open arms. Please, reach out to our brothers and sisters to come back to the Party. We should be more united and stronger now. Donâ€™t drive anybody away; this is the time to call on members of other political parties, including members of the APC (All Progressive Congress), to come and join us.
“It is the PDP that Nigerians want, it is a party that will give power back to the people. There is no more faction in our party, we are all one. The Supreme Court judgement was a victory for democracy, it will bring about credible opposition and make the government of the moment to sit up and do the right thing for the people.
“As an individual, I never contemplated that we were going to lose and I have remained steadfast in the party as a true party man. I want to congratulate all of us for the victory at the Supreme Court; I am surprised at the large turn-out of people for this meeting, this is not a political rally, it is a party meeting but, I am impressed with our conduct and our turn out.â€
The governor further urged the members to encourage people in their various areas to ensure that they are captured in the on-going continuous voter registration exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Okowa, who disclosed that a total of 71, 039 persons across the state have so far been captured under the first phase of the exercise, which ended on 20 July, 2017, expressed confidence that the PDP will emerge victorious in the 2019 general elections, stating that the registration exercise was a sure way for people to participate in the elections.
Earlier, Delta State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Kingsley Esiso, roused the audience by taking a victory dance round the columns of seats of excited party faithful that filled the Events Centre Asaba to maximum capacity to the admiration and wild applause.
Esiso, who harped on the need for unity of purpose and discipline amongst members, assured that the state party leadership would give “a level playing field” for all aspirants and candidates in the coming local government and future elections.
Nonetheless, thousands of party faithful from all the wards, local government areas and senatorial zones, members of the state executive council as well as state and national lawmakers attended the general meeting.
The meeting broke into a spontaneous rendition of the popular song, “Na God Win!” as Governor Ifeanyi Okowa stepped into the gathering at exactly 12:03pm. The roll-call of who-is-who in PDP in the state was practically inexhaustible and included Governor Okowa, his Deputy, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the state Chairman of the party, Chief Kingsley Esiso, Chairman of PDP (South-South zone), Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Sheriff Oborevwori and Majority Leader in the House, Hon Tim Owhefere.
Others were former deputy governor, Chief Benjamin Elue, former information minister, Prof Sam Oyovbaire, Chief Godswill Obielum, Minority Leader in the House of Representative, Hon Leo Ogor, Prof Patrick Muoboghare and a former governorship aspirant, Senator Stella Omu, who said she had already endorsed Okowa for 2019 but demanded the appointment and election of more women into political positions in Nigeria.