By Law Mefor
Prof ABC Nwosu just resigned his membership on the PDP Board of Trustees, protesting jettisoning of the zoning principle by the main opposition PDP. The value of his resignation needs to be calculated by interrogating his role in the Ortom zoning committee. History is a bitch and the burden of it can hardly be shaken off by those who fall on the wrong side.
As a reminder, Prof Nwosu represented Anambra state in the Governor Samuel Ortom Committee on the zoning of the Presidential ticket of the main opposition Party, PDP. The 37-member zoning committee, which included two other governors namely Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Darius Ishaku, governors of Enugu and Taraba, respectively, was inaugurated on March 24.
The zoning of the PDP presidential ticket was a subject of intense debate ahead of the party’s primary in June 2022. While some members of the party from the south demanded that the ticket be zoned to the region, those from the north wanted it to be thrown open. The zoning committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) soon concluded its deliberations and resolved its recommendation for zoning.
It is also important to point out that every state of the federation including the FCT was represented in the 37-man Ortom Committee. History is delivered in moments. When the Ortom committee concluded its work and adopted a resolution, the committee addressed the press. Its chairman Governor Ortom, speaking for the committee with its members flanking him, had this to say: “Today, we decided that we would meet, and by the grace of God, we have unanimously adopted a position that will be sent to the NEC of our party that appointed us. The good news for our teeming supporters of the PDP and Nigerians is that we have resolved and every one of us — the 37 members — unanimously adopted the position that we are going to present to NEC.
Ortom was careful with his choice of words as he knew this day would come. He defined the word ‘unanimous’ as ‘every one of us — the 37 members — unanimously agreed ‘ . This included Prof ABC Nwosu no doubt because Ortom did not say ‘majority of committee members’ and Nwosu did not disagree then and even now.
Although Ortom didn’t give exact details on the committee’s recommendation, reports soon filtered out that the panel recommended that the zoning of the presidential ticket be thrown open, which Ortom said would be submitted to the national executive committee (NEC) of the party which they did.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, addressed the media after the PDP NEC considered the Ortom committee report. Debo announced the decision of the PDP NEC while briefing reporters at the party’s secretariat in Abuja. He informed reporters that the decision was part of the resolutions reached at the end of the 96th PDP NEC meeting, which was well attended by various party leaders.
His words: “After very extensive deliberation, NEC aligned with the recommendation of the PDP National Zoning Committee that the presidential election should now be left open. NEC noted the recommendation of the Zoning Committee that (was) in the interest of justice and fair play…”
Note again that PDP NEC made sure Nigerians were left without a doubt: the body merely adopted the Ortom zoning committee recommendation that the PDP presidential primary be thrown open. So, what is Prof Nwosu talking about after voting for an open presidential primary?
Prof ABC Nwosu is/was also a member of the PDP NEC where the Ortom Committee was debated and adopted. Why did he not protest there and then tender his letter of resignation? If he missed something at the Ortom committee, he still kept mum at the PDP NEC adoption meeting. Something is not adding up here.
In politics and conventionally too, staging a walkout, submitting minority reports, addressing protest press conferences, and so forth are of very historic importance. These measures are usually undertaken by aggrieved political actors not necessarily to change anything but to repudiate and draw attention to a historic anomaly and to exonerate one or group. Most people had therefore expected Prof Nwosu and other members of the Ortom committee (if any) to repudiate and put a lie to the claim of Governor Ortom that all his committee members agreed on a position which they forwarded to the PDP NEC for consideration and adoption.
The erudite professor of medicine and former minister of health waited till 9 months after and barely one month to the presidential election to raise his voice in protest. Something is not sitting well and the facts must be established if a proper premium would be attached to Nwosu’s so-called resignation.
Both the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the Ortom committees were great missed opportunities that ended the campaign for a Nigerian president of Igbo or South-East extraction. For a moment imagine the impact if Nwosu had led a group of committee members who wanted the PDP to stick to zoning principle, which is even enshrined in the party constitution, to stage a walkout on the Ortom committee. Imagine the impact if Nwosu and others who wanted zoning had addressed their press conference to challenge the claim of Ortom that all – without exception – adopted a position (to throw the PDP presidential primary open).
For the records, only one member of the Ortom committee – Nze Ozichukwu, not ABC Nwosu – protested to some extent. Even Ozichukwu too could not follow through because he too failed to submit a minority report to challenge Ortom on the unanimous claim.
Normally, silence is consent. Assuming the committee members were blackmailed and intimidated into silence, one still expected them to fight back in some ways. The media is there for everyone for such proxy wars.
But after throwing the presidential aspiration of the South-East under the bus, Prof ABC Nwosu wants to rewrite history by pulling the wool over the public eye. This is strange.
From all indications, the North outsmarted the South yet again in both the Ugwuanyi and the Ortom committees. While the North concentrated on their regional strategic interest and assiduously worked for it, the Southern delegates as usual did not attend with any harmonised and concretized position and ready arguments. They, as a consequence, worked individually and in pursuit of personal interests. Only to wake up months later to protest a decision the political party (PDP) set up two separate committees to preempt. What’s more, one of the two committees was chaired by a South-East governor, the other by one of the so-called G5 governors that is now also protesting southern exclusion from the centre of things in the party.
Prof ABC Nwosu and other reps of South-East and indeed South in both the Ugwuanyi committee and the Ortom committee owe their people an apology, not resignation. In light of the affirmed facts, Prof Nwosu’s symbolic and gestural resignation has no value at all. Apart from being too belated, it is also a gross misrepresentation of facts as Nigerians knew them.
His resignation is more of an afterthought and therefore falls far too short of expectations. He and other reps of the South in those committees did not represent their people but their interests. They need to be reminded that it was their action that precipitated the crisis in the PDP, including the protest exit of Mr. Peter Obi and the actions of the so-called G5 governors, which is threatening to ruin the PDP anticipated victory.
They are simply approbating and reprobating at the same time as they say in law, wanting to have their cake after eating it. It is such inexplicable actions that defy logic and demean morality that makes many to say that politics is a dirty game. But one keeps wondering: is it the game of politics that is dirty or the players of the game of politics? These politicians are like arsonists who pose as fighters.
· Dr Law Mefor, a forensic/social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought and can be reached via 09130335723 or email@example.com. He tweets @DrLawMefor.