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Anambra guber: Intrigues, broken covenants afflict parties

By Leo Sobechi and Collins Olayinka, Abuja
25 June 2021   |   4:22 am
Nothing is certain as the processes leading to the November 6, 2021 Anambra State governorship poll gain traction. In virtually all the big political parties, particularly the governing...


Nothing is certain as the processes leading to the November 6, 2021 Anambra State governorship poll gain traction. In virtually all the big political parties, particularly the governing All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), intrigues, conspiracies and broken alliances hold sway.

In all the complaints, the allegation of abuse of office, double dealing and obtaining money under false pretences outweigh the grievances from legal torpedo of existing structures, just as displaced aspirants engage in last minute shopping for platforms.

Amid the background of rush for compromise parties, the Labour Party (LP) has cautioned gubernatorial aspirants in the state against purchasing nomination forms from unauthorised persons. Acting LP National Chairman, Maria Lebeke, hinted that the date for the national convention of the party would be announced soon.

Lebeke stated: “The attention of Labour Party has been drawn to a report by credible sources in Anambra State that some aspirants in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state are being hoodwinked and duped by persons claiming to be national officers of Labour Party. These duplicitous and fraudulent characters have been demanding and obtaining huge sums of money from desperate governorship aspirants in Anambra State under the false pretence of payment for the collection of nomination forms.”

The party stressed that its nomination forms are not for sale until the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) conclude discussions with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the ongoing reorganization efforts of the party.

“The Labour Party was founded solely on the will and decision of the working people of Nigeria to have a political party of their own. The mandate for a political vehicle to actualise the political goals of the working people of Nigeria was duly reposed by Nigerian workers on the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress,” the national chairman declared.

Lebeke, who spoke to journalists in Abuja, was however quick to add that a move to make LP more accessible and acceptable to Nigerians outside of the labour movement opened the party up to skirmishes that instigated instability in the past few years.

She explained: “Unfortunately, in the bid to make the party accessible to every Nigerian, a few strange elements were sponsored into the Labour Party to destroy it. Well, the efforts of these unscrupulous elements have continued to hit the rocks as different courts have continued to affirm that the Labour Party belongs to the Nigerian workers.

This is why the Certificate of Registration of Labour Party is still domiciled in the headquarters of Nigeria Labour Congress.”

While disowning the leadership led by Julius Abure, LP said it would resist the unlawful takeover of its affairs, adding, “Anyone who does business with Abure and his band of court jesters do so at his own risk …..”

Charles Chukwuma Soludo

APGA leads in confusion
FOR the governing All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the return to past mistakes may cost it the election. Reminiscent of what transpired in the 2013 exercise, when Dr. Chike Obidigbo was disqualified, to pave way for Governor Willie Obiano, party stakeholders cried out in revulsion. INEC had accused the APGA faction led by Ozonkpu Victor Oye of not fulfilling the 21 days mandatory notice for the commission to monitor its election of ward delegates.

Members therefore cast their minds to the experience of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara, expressing fear that the party may have lost the state inadvertently by breach of process.

Others however recalled Obidigbo’s experience, saying that the party must have built momentum with the name of a popular aspirant for a dark horse to emerge on the faction led by Chief Edozie Njoku. Sources hinted that the 2019 APGA Senatorial candidate for Anambra South, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, might end up as the ultimate beneficiary of Oye’s faux pas.

In 2013, Obidigbo had submitted membership cards signed by both Maxi Okwu and Chief Victor Umeh, who had just triumphed in the Appeal Court in the factional crisis that dogged APGA in the build up to the election.

Savouring his victory, Umeh felt he could not guarantee the loyalty of Obidigbo in the belief that the aspirant was groomed by Governor Peter Obi, as such conjured reasons to ensure that he (Obidigbo) was disqualified alongside prof. Chukwuma Soludo.

Obidigbo, who had emerged as the consensus choice of Anambra North, was seen as a very strong contender for the governorship given that all indicators showed that a person from Anambra North would clinch the post.

However, through internal party machinations, APGA rejected the industrialist, who stood out to effect positive changes that would have benefitted the state.

It was clear when Obiano emerged on the scene that the decision to drop Obidigbo was not taken at party level, but by political merchants. Same scenario seems to be playing out as a party is currently being accused of receiving $2million to throw spanner in the works for the governing party.

Would Ukachukwu, like Obiano be the surprise beneficiary of the APGA imbroglio? Has Soludo been played out by jobbers as happened to Obidigbo in 2013?

AGAINST the background of insinuations and misgivings, Special Adviser to Oye on Political Matters, Sir Ifeatu Obi-okoye, described the INEC letter dated June 18, 2021, as misguided. In a message to APGA faithful, Obi-Okoye said:  “Please be informed that the issues raised by INEC in both letters are in flagrant violation of the state of the law well settled in the case of Shinkafi vs Yari (sc.907/2015) 2016 NGSC 67; decided by the Supreme Court of Nigeria  on the 25th of January 2016.”

He contended that in “the determination of the issues raised in this case the Supreme Court held as follows…… the pit and substance of this case is ‘whether failure to comply with sections 85 & 87 of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended)is a  disqualifying factor for a person duly nominated and sponsored by his political party to contest election as Governor of a State’……..accordingly, the Supreme Court held that … “whereas sections  85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended) provide for issues of nomination of candidates for elections, sections 177 and 178 of the  1999 Constitution of the FRN (as amended) provides for issues relating to qualification and disqualification of candidates seeking for election as Governor.”

Obi-Okoye recalled how the Supreme Court held that the Electoral Act 2010(as amended) …. “does not state that any political party, which fails to give notice of its Congress INEC will forfeit the right to field a candidate, who emanates from such Congress”

He added: “Accordingly, the Supreme Court held that the ‘punishment for non compliance with the provisions of section 85 of the said Electoral Act, remains as provided in section 86(4), which merely states that the political party would be liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than 500,000.00’ and nothing more.

“In the final analysis, the Supreme Court held regarding the provision of section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010, that the right to nominate and sponsor a candidate by a political party is a domestic right of the party, as it remains a political matter, falling within the exclusive discretion of the party. Consequently a Court has no jurisdiction to determine who a political party should sponsor in an election…… subject only to the provision of section 87(9) of the Electoral Act.”

The Special Adviser assured “all members of the party that the said letters do not represent the current state of the law as decided by the Supreme Court Nigeria in the case of Shinkafi vs Yari, stressing that APGA would be in the ballot come 6th of November 2021.

“INEC has neither the legal competence nor constitutional cloak to stop APGA from participating and, of course, winning the governorship election, come the 6th of November 202I.”

Uche Secondus

PDP’s conspiracies
WITHIN the major opposition PDP, intrigues and conspiracies reign. Stakeholders anticipated that the party’s national leadership would announce a postponement of the governorship primary slated for Saturday June 26, 2021, after it met with aspirants.

There were allegations of hijack of the three-man delegate by one of the aspirants, who is said to have the backing of a Southeast governor in the party. This is just as the plethora of aspirants from Anambra South continued to tinker with the idea of pruning their number to square up with Dr. Obiora Okonkwo and Senator Uche Ekwunife, who hail from Anambra Central.

Apart from Okonkwo and Ekwunife, the 2017 APC governorship candidate, Dr. Tony Nwoye, who crossed over to PDP, from Anambra North, are the only aspirants outside of Anambra South, which is claiming that it is their zone’s turn to produce the governor.

PDP had distanced itself from zoning, stressing that its objective in the election is to field the best candidate and win the November poll. Moreover, some PDP stalwarts contend that the zoning arrangement is only applicable to a governing party, since according to it, it was not bound to honour an arrangement promoted by APGA.

Former President of Transcorp Hilton, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, Hon. Chris Azubuogu and Dr. Godwin Maduka are the aspirants being pencilled as possible shortlist to face Okonkwo, even as Ekwunife is said to be running on the belief that she is from both South and Central.

Come Saturday June 26, 2021, the clouds over PDP may lift or get darker as further contestation moves to the Courts.