Anambra 2017: As it was in Ondo …
Ngige, Still Playing Games
Within the ruling party, there is infighting. On the platform of the frontline opposition party, confusion reigns. In the shadow of the two mega parties, other contenders struggle with their underdog status to seize the moment.That is how things presently stand for the November 18, 2017 Anambra governorship poll. And as happened in Ondo State, some theatrics are bound to unfold in the days ahead. Preparations have taken renewed tempo, unleashing feverish excitement and convoluting intrigues in the front row political parties.
APGA: Repeat Of History
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is embroiled in national leadership crisis. Just as it happened in Ondo State last November, when the ruling party was distracted by intra-party leadership disputation in its national headquarters, APGA’s new troubles developed after the national chairman, Mr. Victor Oye, was suspended at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting.
To worsen matters, the former Deputy National Chairman, Ozo Nwabueze Okafor, who replaced Oye in an acting capacity, died; only to be replaced by the 2007 Imo State governorship candidate of the party, Ochudo Martin Agbaso.Agbaso’s sudden emergence as acting national chairman of APGA became momentous on account of an order of mandamus by an Enugu High Court presided over by Justice A. R. Ozoemena. By that order, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nigeria Police Force were directed to recognise and deal with him as the authentic representative of the party.
Taking aback by that surprising development, the police, inspired by Anambra State Government approached the court seeking a stay, while the embattled Oye applied for joinder in the suit at the Court of Appeal, Enugu division.
Although the court rejected the application for stay of execution, it allowed Oye to be joined as an interested party. But dissatisfied, the Agbaso-led APGA NEC appealed to the Supreme Court, in what many saw as a likely replay of the prolonged litigation between Chief Chekwas Okorie and Victor Umeh.However, matters came to a head when INEC accepted Agbaso’s letter serving the mandatory 21 days notice to the electoral commission to conduct its governorship primary in Anambra State.
Alarmed by Agbaso’s zeal and the attendant legal reverses, Governor Willie Obiano started making alternative plans for a platform to contest the governorship, even as the government went to an Nnewi High Court and obtained an ex-parte order restraining Agbaso from conducting any primary election.
But in what seems an anti-climax, the police recently withdrew its suit even as the Nnewi High Court vacated its restraining order, thus giving the impression that a political solution is being worked out to ensure that APGA does not witness a repeat of history by fielding two candidates as it did three years ago, when the names of Dr. Chike Obidigbo and Willie Obiano were sent by rival factions to INEC for the governorship poll.
Indications to that effect emerged when Agbaso announced that contrary to claims by uninformed persons, Governor Obiano has nothing to fear, stressing that his immediate challenge is to reconcile all estranged members and nurture APGA to national stardom and capacity to win election in other states.
APC: Integrity, Conflict Assessment
ANAMBRA chapter of APC has a big problem on its plate. Apart from the existence of big money men in its governorship chase, the party has the added burden of untying the knot of zoning, which has remained an issue in its fold.
Recognizing the fact that Anambra Central zone has produced governors of the state in the last 17 years, APC leaders had discouraged aspirants from that zone to shelve their ambition in the interest of fairness, morality and equity.
But tongues were sent wagging when a female aspirant appeared on the scene from nowhere clutching the nomination forms. The first time Mrs. Uchegbu made news was when Senator Uche Ekwunife joined APC. She descended on the trail blazing senator, accusing her of “coming to cause confusion” in the party.
This time around, Mrs. Uchegbu is causing some confusion, because it is generally believed that she is on an errand to either stand in for the minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige or throw spanner in the works for Senator Ekwunife, who comes strongly recommended as a potential governorship running mate.
But it is the proxy part that is buzzing with a disturbing wavelength in the state, as many politicians claim that Ngige was playing a suspense card for the APC ticket. The minister first caught attention of analysts when he hinted that he might consider throwing his hat in the ring if he gets green light from powers that be.
However, the minister’s loyalists told The Guardian that it is often what he does that matter instead of what he says, stressing that when the self-styled godfather of Anambra politics, Chief Chris Uba, was taking him to the shrine in Okija, little did he know that Onwa, as Ngige is called, would outwit him in the end.It was also gathered that knowing that the governorship primary might end in a stalemate, Ngige cleverly devised a means that could necessitate a search for consensus or compromise candidate. That much he voiced recently at a meeting in Awka between aspirants and the Senator Jim Nwobodo committee.
Already, leadership of the party in Abuja are said to be assessing which among the aspirants could pick the ticket without stirring up crisis and bitter renunciations. In addition the party is also said to be carrying out extensive background checks on the aspirants to ascertain the level of stain of corruption or scandal dogging their paths.
Of the nine aspirants that bought the nomination forms, only seven were said to have met the Monday deadline, party chieftains are said to be focusing on five namely, Dr. Chike Obidigbo and Hon. Tony Nwoye from Anambra north, as well as, Senator Andy Uba, Chief George Muoghalu and Chief Barth Nwibe, from Anambra south.
While Muoghalu insists that he should be handed the ticket as a consistent opposition politician, Nwibe and supporters of Senator Uba are enmeshed in verbal warfare. Nwibe is being tackled for allegedly vilifying Uba when he made what has come to be known as ‘Nimo declaration’.Addressing APC faithful in Nimo, Njikoka local council of the state, the petroleum Engineer was said to have declared that “whoever wants to govern Anambra State must be fit in character, integrity and learning. Anyone with deficit of these attributes is not fit and proper to aspire to lead Anambra.”
Although claims about cooked school certificate result against Senator Uba was discharged in court, rivals are fond of giggling when alluding to qualities of integrity and learning.
Of the three aspirants from Anambra south, most party faithful believe that Uba stands out with financial capacity to run the election, even as Nwibe and Muoghalu insist that the era of vote buying is gone and that APC ticket is not up for auction.
Dr. Obidigbo and Nwoye, who hail from the same Anambra north as the incumbent, have been campaigning on the basis of their respective backgrounds. While Nwoye is currently in the House of Representatives, Obidigbo, a former chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), is an industrialist.
Apart from his campaign pitch as the clean, credible and competent aspirant, Obidigbo does not seem to frighten other aspirants. Nwoye and Uba were once bosom political allies, before ambition drove them apart. Nwibe, who comes from the private sector, is said to have entered into a political pact with Chris Uba, which reason explains his open antipathy to Chris’ brother, Andy. Muoghalu, the national auditor of APC is accused of siding with those who constricted the political space in All Peoples Party (ANPP) leading to the eventual exit of President Muhammadu Buhari.
A former governorship aspirant of APC, Comrade Harris Chuma, who recently defected to APGA, lamented that instead of focusing on a candidate with unblemished personality, some elements in APC have set up shop in Anambra State, waiting for candidates with deep pockets filled with proceeds of political shady deals.
Chuma said APC primary has been programmed to return a well known political wheeler dealer that has nothing to offer the state except mediocrity, mischief and sadism, stressing that some party wigs in the southeast are not interested in winning the election, but filling their pockets.At the time of filing this report, members of the state executive committee of APC were summoned to Abuja over allegations of doctored delegates list. Most aspirants were kicking against the attempt to corrupt the system, even as they ask for fresh list.
It could perhaps be on account of the intricacies of the various implications of leaving the APC governorship ticket to the vagaries of open market competition that the national leadership of the party demurred from releasing the delegates list to aspirants as earlier announced. The party may go the way of Ondo in following the line of least resistance by adopting a consensus candidate.
HDP Challenged By Public Perception
IRKED by growing public perception that the party’s governorship ticket was reserved for the 2010 governorship candidate, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, state chairman of Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Sam Osita Oraegbunam, came out and publicly debunked the allegations.
HDP successfully toured the 327 electoral wards of the state, capping it up with a thank-you ceremony for ward chairmen and secretaries in Awka. Based on the financial implication of the exercise, speculations were that Ukachukwu was bankrolling activities of the party. But, Oraegbunam told reporters that HDP had no secret sponsor, neither was its ticket reserved for anybody.
He told The Guardian that some of the aspirants that went to APC confessed to him that they would have preferred to contest on HDP, but for fear of Ukachukwu.
UPP Battling With Rigours Of Fame
THE swift fame conferred on United Progressives Party (UPP), by the clamour for self-determination has put it in a quandary. Three formidable aspirants in the party, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, Hon. Chudi Offodile and immediate past Aviation minister, Osita Chidoka are from Anambra central.It is unclear yet what approach- direct or indirect delegate system- the party would adopt to select its flag bearer. But, the national chairman of the party, Chief Chekwas Okorie, explained that five ward executives each from the 327 wards of the state are expected to nominate the governorship candidate.
PDP Contending With Old Troubles
BACK from the cold, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is facing the old trouble of factions. Until the party settles the issue of which is the authentic state executive committee, plans for the governorship poll remains a leap in the dark. Former Governor Peter Obi and Prince Ken Emeakayi are subtly laying claims to influence and control of the party, while the Sheriff faction led by Chris Uba, remains in limbo. Will there be a fresh congress, harmonization or an all-comers governorship primary? Being a family affair, only PDP leaders know the answer.
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