Anambra Poll: Gladiators wallow in endorsement frenzy
Unsteady judicial pronouncements on various pre-and post-governorship primary ligations in the build up to the November 6, gubernatorial poll in Anambra State have left the field open without any plausible frontrunner.
Two months to the much-awaited governorship, which is the next in line to the recent Ondo State election, one of the off-cycle polls in the country, the main three contending parties are challenged by court cases.
While the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is confronted with one suit against the emergence of Senator Andy Uba as the party’s standard bearer, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and governing All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are grappling with multiple claimants to the parties’ tickets.
Given the pervading sense of uncertainty, notable gladiators, especially the winner and first runner-up in one of the parallel governorship primaries of PDP are currently pulling their weights to see who garners more endorsements.
Recently, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, who enjoys the confidence of PDP leaders in the state and Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, who faulted the party’s election process and emerged the candidate of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), received various delegations of groups in support of their governorship ambition.
Okonkwo and Eze Nd’Igbo
THE Dikeora country home of the ZLP candidate, Okonkwo, in Ogidi, Idemmili Local Government Area of the state was agog, when a delegation of Eze Ndigbo from the northern part of Nigeria, visited to convey their support.
Announcing the endorsement, the delegation pledged to mobilise Anambra voters in the Diaspora to return to the state and cast their votes for Dr. Obiora Okonkwo and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), during the election exercise on November 6.
The delegation, which was led by HRM Igwe Ikechukwu Oliver Akpudo, the Eze Ndigbo na Kano, said they were in the Ogidi country home of Dr. Okonkwo to deliver the resolution of Anambra indigenes resident in Kano, Bauchi and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and “pledge unalloyed support for your vision for the state.”
Other persons in the delegation included Eze Ndigbo na Karu, HRM Amb. Igwe Ochedo; the Eze Ndigbo na Azare, Bauchi state, HRM Sir Andrew Ekemezie and Onowu Eze Ndigbo na Nyanya (FCT), Onowu Edwin Agomuo.
The emissaries of all Eze Ndigbo in northern Nigeria informed the ZLP candidate that they were encouraged by his vision and agenda for the development of Anambra State, remarking that their visit was also aimed at building a durable partnership to support him and his mandate even beyond the election.
In his remarks on behalf of the delegation, the Eze NdIgbo na Kano, Igwe Akpudo, regretted that “the story of Anambra State has become embarrassing such that, as indigenes of the state, we are equally and deeply interested in how the state’s affairs are being managed.”
While picking holes in the 16 years of APGA in the state, Igwe Akpudo noted that the governing party has been a disservice to the state, even as he prayed that no person like the outgoing governor should ever come near the seat of power in the state.
He declared that Anambra people cannot reward Governor Willie Obiano’s leadership shortcomings by electing his imposed candidate, insisting that Anambra must move on in a new direction with Dr. Obiora Okonkwo.
Igwe Akpudo stated: “We came from our different places in the north -Kano, Bauchi, Nyanya and Karu- as representatives of the Igbo Diaspora to liaise with you on how best to empower you to lead our state into a new era of development.
“We have examined all the other candidates and none of them come close to you in terms of vision and programme. We believe that working together, we will be able to pull the Anambra Diaspora to work for your success on November 6. We will mobilise our people home and abroad to support you and make sure that our state moves in a different direction.”
He said it was because they got tired of complaining about bad leadership in Anambra State, that they decided to get involved to make sure that the right kind of person is elected to the office of governor.
In his response, Okonkwo reiterated his resolve to contest the governorship for the good of Anambra people, remarking that the sad level of development of the state would not allow any genuine patriot to sleep comfortably.
The ZLP standard bearer declared: “I am in this race for Anambra. It is not for what I will gain. If it were for it, I would have moved on. But, we cannot relax while our state is mismanaged. The past years of APGA have been wasted years and we cannot reward Obiano by allowing him continue with this sort of mismanagement by imposing his surrogate on us.
“It was the same continuity that brought Obiano to us. He wants to continue that with another errand boy. We must not allow that to happen, because if we do, our children will one day ask us what we did to rescue the state while it was being mismanaged by APGA.”
He assured the Eze NdIgbo delegation that he plans to establish a Diaspora Commission in line with his 10-Point Agenda to manage affairs of Ndi Anambra in the Diaspora, adding that on his watch as governor, the life and welfare of every Anambra son and daughter would matter to the state.
Okonkwo therefore urged NdiAnambra, both at home and in the Diaspora to register, obtain their permanent voter cards (PVC) to vote on November 6, just as he expressed confidence that with the support of the masses, the sad narrative in the state will become history.
Ozigbo hosts Youth group
SIMILARLY, at the premises of All Saints Cathedral, Onitsha, there was excitement in the air, as the PDP standard bearer, Valentine Ozigbo, received eminent grassroots youth group, known as Anyi Ekpebigo.
The leadership of the 70,000-strong group announced their resolve to support Ozigbo, stressing that they resolved to endorse him to enthrone a youthful administration in the state.
In a statement, the Ozigbo campaign organisation said that the 3, 000 members of Anyi Ekpebigo, who thronged the church arena, came purposely to convey the endorsement publicly.
Addressing the crowd, President-General of the group, Dr Alex Obiogbolu, disclosed that Anyi Ekpebigo chose Mr Ozigbo for his youthfulness and “keen understanding of the plight of the youth.”
Obiogbolu, who contested the 2013 governorship, stated: “Valentine Ozigbo is an example of a youth with a new focus. The youths are the livewire of any society, but unfortunately, our leaders have not tapped into the goldmine of our unlimited potential.”
“Anambra State is suffering from a massive brain drain as our youths routinely seek greener pastures elsewhere owing to a severe lack of opportunities to utilise their unique talents.
“The youths of Anambra State are a population of 1.8 million and constitute 80 percent of voters. Sadly, neglect from the government has resulted in a high rate of voter apathy. Anyi Ekpebigo is looking to reverse this ugly trend by mobilising youths to vote for a candidate who will have us at heart.”
While stressing that a thorough process preceded the choice of Ozigbo, Obiogbolu added, “In the coming weeks, Anyi Ekpebigo will embark on a massive membership registration drive to ensure we deliver Valentine Ozigbo at the polls. We are confident that his track record of excellence and quality service delivery will ensure that the youths are adequately represented and catered for.”
Expressing happiness at the gesture of support, the PDP flag bearer, said he was “humbled by the unanimous endorsement” from the prominent group, adding that he would ensure that the youths of Anambra State become the envy of others, as he would undertake massive reforms that will directly impact their lives if elected.
His words: “The youth of Anambra State deserve a modern, digital leader who understands global trends and has the vision to create solutions that match our current realities.
“We must do away with old methods and embrace the future. I am bringing my wealth of experience in banking, business, entertainment, sports, technology, power, energy, agri-business, and tourism to bear, and the youth of Anambra will be better for it.
“I will partner Anyi Ekpebigo to ensure that its members and other deserving youth in the state get their due. The youth of Anambra State deserve more, we are poised to deliver true dividends of innovative governance to them.”
Many prominent members and directors of the Anambra PDP Governorship Campaign Council graced the occasion, including Eucharia Azodo, (Director of Religious Affairs); Chief Ejike Oguebego, (Director of Inter-Party and Intra-Party Affairs); Mr Obinna Ufudo, (Director of Finance); Chief Benjy Udeozo, a former PDP State Chairman and Mr Robert Umeozulu, among others.
Marriage of APC, APGA
PERHAPS in a bid to cure the procedural defects within their platforms regarding the nomination of their gubernatorial candidates, there were suggestions for a political understanding between the embattled governing APGA and opposition APC.
Managing Director of Nigeria Inland Waters Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, is in court challenging APC’s endorsement of Senator Andy Uba as its standard bearer. He is praying the court to invalidate Uba’s nomination on the grounds that APC did not hold governorship primary in the state.
On APGA platform, the choice of former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor as one of its governorship claimants is being challenged in court on many grounds including the fractionalisation of the party.
Mr. Edozie Njoku has been in court seeking a declaration that the national convention of the party, which held in Owerri produced him as the authentic national chairman of APGA. Conversely, Jude Okeke, also came up to claim that as the deputy national chairman he mounted the saddle after Njoku was suspended.
Yet, Ozonkpu Victor Oye maintains that he is the authentic national chairman known to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stressing that Okeke is an impostor without valid membership of the party.
Confounded by the intricate issues surrounding the party’s leadership and nomination of its candidate, INEC temporary halted in recognition of the three APGA contenders until the Appeal Court in Kano ruled that the Jigawa State High Court judgment that gave filip to Jude Okeke’s candidate, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, was procured in error.
Amid the confusion, some chieftains of APGA and APC started calling for a way out of the jigsaw, lamenting that both parties may suffer a similar sad fate that befell Zamfara State chapter of APC.
Recalling that both APGA and APC share long history of political collaboration, a chieftain of APC, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said both parties could come together and support one candidate to win the election.
Okechukwu said in 2013, a faction of APGA joined the merger of APC, adding that “in 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari more or less saved Governor Willie Obiano from his traducers, and saved his re-election.”
He therefore contended that the best thing for APGA leaders in the circumstances is “to fuse into APC as a pragmatic step towards successful and seamless prosecution of the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State.”
Okechukwu, who is also the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), said the suggestion is unassailable, especially “from the prism of the pragmatic Zikist political model, which joins us with APGA.”
While contending that pragmatism is the best strategy for Ndigbo to kill two birds with one stone, Okechukwu noted that if APGA fuses into APC that will give APC three states in the Southeast geopolitical zone and become a political milestone.
But, APGA chieftain and National Coordinator of APGA Media Warriors, Comrade Chinedu Obidigwe, dismissed Okechukwu’s suggestions as part of a plot by APC to forcefully takeover Anambra State.
Yet, the VON DG maintained that the feasibility of his proposition could be seen from the political understanding between the All Peoples Party (APP) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, stressing, “We should recall that in 1999, based on strategic thinking, AD and APP were merged for the Presidential election.”
“APGA can, apart from solving its intractable myriad of post-governorship primary litigations join its old ally, APC, to win the governorship, instead of doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.”
Founder of Movers for the Voice of Democracy, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, told The Guardian that if what APGA and APC is cooking is to throw up a common candidate before the October 7 deadline for the final list of candidates, it is dead on arrival.
Okonkwo said that statutorily, it is impossible to substitute any candidate on any platform now, stressing that the only legal window would have been “if the parties were in court or through a pronouncement of a federal High Court.”
Against the background of talks between APGA and African Democratic Congress (ADC), whose candidate, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, was screened out of APGA, the question on the lips of Anambra voters is where the intrigues will end and who would emerge successor to Obianor.
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