Former Governor of Abia State Orji Uzor Kalu has once again stirred controversy with his acceptance of a PDP membership card from the chairman of the party in his ward re-admitting him to the PDP but the state chapter of the party insists he has not returned to the PDP.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) membership card number 9787845 was the one issued former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, on the 16th of January 2013, by the ward chairman of Igbere ward 'A' in Bende local government of Abia State to herald as well as confirm Kalu’s return to the PDP.
Kalu, a founding member of the PDP reigned for two consecutive terms as governor of Abia on the platform of the PDP but left the party in 2007 in the build up to the general elections that held that year to float a party; the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) on which platform he also contested as president of Nigeria.
The former governor left the fold of the PDP due to disagreement with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a move that turned costly to the PDP as it made the party lose two states in the 2007 general elections while the then unknown PPA came from the sidelines to grab Abia and Imo States.
But intra party squabbles within the PPA would later compel the two PPA governors to seek other platforms in their bids to re-contest the office with Theodore Orji of Abia and Ikedi Ohakim of Imo dumping the PPA to move to the PDP.
Orji was able to win his election to return as governor of Abia on the PDP platform in 2011, but Ohakim lost the state to APGA even with the new platform.
More would be lost to intra party squabbles as the party was visited by more crises with two different camps at a time, claiming to be the authentic leader of the party.
But Kalu who had described his clamour for a president of Igbo extraction in 2015 as one that is that not tied with any personal ambition nor linked to any political party began to violate that principle by making moves to have a platform.
It was obvious that up to last week, Kalu had not decided whether to reclaim his old party the PPA or to return to the PDP in his search for a viable platform.
Sources say he was advised that while the bid to return to the PDP would be stiffer bearing in mind his relationship with the Abia governor, it would still be better than returning to PPA as the PDP option would offer him better prospects and less burden since the PPA which has no sitting governor would depend entirely on him for its finances.
A major obstacle to Kalu’s return to PDP he was said to have been told, would be the Abia State Governor; Orji, who controls the PDP in the state and who has shown that he’s prepared to make it impossible for his predecessor to return to the PDP.
But Kalu was said to have found a leeway in the PDP Constitution that allows intending returnees as well as new members to register first with their wards to be considered members of the party.
The former governor then went to his ward without informing the state organ of the PDP and arranged with the PDP chairman in his Igbere ward to readmit him.
In a ceremony that held in his country home, chairman of Igbere ward 'A' Chief Amaechi Ukoh, after appealing to the former governor to return to the PDP, presented Kalu with the PDP membership card.
Expectedly, the Abia government was livid and quickly caused the state chairman of the party; Mr. Emeka Nwaka to react to the development.
Nwaka at a press conference in Umuahia, dismissed the purported return of Kalu saying it is fake as all the party’s executive members in Igbere Wards 'A' and 'B' including Chief Ukoh who presented Kalu with the card had resigned their positions on January 10, this year.
To prove his point, Nwaka said all Igbere cards bear numbers begin in the series of 95, not the 97 given to Kalu PDP chairman in Bende local government of the state, Ihendubi Eke, to add to the state chairman’s position, said the two ward chairmen had on January 10 stepped down from their positions.
"Those that gave out the cards are fake because they had earlier resigned from their positions," Mr. Eke said.
Notwithstanding the allegations, Kalu is making good use of the heat generated by the controversy to stress the point about his return.
Observers say Kalu refused to make any statement during the presentation of the card because he had wanted to see how the state government would react to the matter and the kind of interest it would generate before he would make his position known.
But both the reaction of the state chapter of the party and the overall muddle stirred by the event at Igbeke galvanized to the proportion Kalu had been praying for and as all eyes turned on him, he announced that he’s taken the matter seriously and that he is now a full member of the PDP.
Not minding the fact that the PPA had also on the same day presented him with a membership card, Kalu only addressed the matter as it concerned the PDP saying he has been readmitted through his ward and that there was no going back on the decision.
He said, "I already have PDP card number 9787845 and there is no going back. We want all these deceits in Abia State to stop because we are going to fight for democracy, we are going to remove inept government and put a credible one in the state. All those living by propaganda would soon stop; corruption will stop, all the manipulation of Abia people will stop. The stealing going in the state will stop and we will call for social justice in Abia," he said.
Kalu said the only problem he had with Governor Theodore Orji was that he was not delivering quality leadership to the state and dismissed Nwaka’s position as "laughable", insisting that he has returned to the party and that his return conformed to the Constitution of the party.
"How can the whole executive of two wards resign? What was the reason they gave for resigning. They are deceiving the people and that deceit must stop. You cannot dissolve the ward executives and said they resigned. Emma Nwaka should take time. He is not the owner of PDP. We have come back to take over our party."
Chairmen of Igbere Ward 'A' and 'B' of the PDP in Bende LG, Chika and Amadi Kalu also came out to puncture the claim of the state chairman of the PDP saying they have not resigned as ward officials of the PDP insisting they were still the heads of their PDP ward councils.
They described their purported resignation as the handiwork of selfish political detractors that were not happy with the re-admission of Kalu into the party and vowed to challenge the action at the appropriate court stressing that their action is in line with the constitution of the party and the reconciliation initiatives of the national executive of the PDP.
Sources say the national secretariat of the PDP would soon make a statement on the matter. While some say the odds may not favour the former governor since the Bamanga Tukur leadership has been at daggers drawn with PDP state governors and may not want to further incur their wrath by taking a decision that could injure the political interest of one of them, others say Kalu’s return may be endorsed since it falls in line with the fundamental principle of the Bamanga leadership to woo old members back to the party.