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Defection: Anambra deputy governor repeats Zamfara constitutional puzzle

By Leo Sobechi, Deputy Politics Editor, Abuja
20 October 2021   |   2:07 am
Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, has finalised his defection from All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to All Progressives Congress....

Nkem Okeke

Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, has finalised his defection from All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to All Progressives Congress (APC), thereby putting an end to weeks of speculations about the political move barely three weeks to the governorship poll in the state.
   
As has become the tradition, the latest APC catch, who was accompanied by Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma and Chairman of APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mail Mala Buni, was received by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidency.
  
Okeke’s defection has thrown up anew the conjectures over the constitutional quagmire of having a governor and deputy on different political platforms, because while the Anambra deputy governor has crossed over to APC, his principal, Governor Willie Obiano, with whom he contest election on two occasions, remains in APGA.

  
Zamfara State deputy governor, Mahdi Aliyu, blazed the trail earlier this year when he refused to join his principal, Governor Bello Matawalle to embrace APC and dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on which platform they were elected.
  
Former chairman of Ikeja branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Ubani, said insofar as “there is no constitutional provision relating to the movement of governors or their deputies like legislators, the prostituting of platforms would continue.”
 
Ubani explained that the much anyone would do is to argue on the basis of morality, stressing that deputy governors win because their governors won and chose them in the first place.
   
Unlike in the Zamfara State instance, Okeke was having a silent battle with Governor Obiano shortly after they mounted the saddle for a second term in office, a development that paved the way for APC recruiters to fish for him.
   
APGA, having lost the required two-thirds majority in the state House of Assembly, it is not likely that Governor Obaino and the party would attempt an impeachment proceeding as happened in between Matawalle and Aliyu.
  
Shortly after Governor Matawalle crossed over to APC and his deputy, Aliyu, refused to follow suit, members of Zamfara State House of Assembly accused the deputy governor of “lack of empathy for the people of Zamfara for holding a political rally on July 10 after killings by bandits in Maradun local council of the state.”
    
The deputy governor was subsequently given 48 hours to appear before the lawmakers to explain why he should undertake a political rally when the state was in a sombre mood, even as Aliyu rejected the summons and headed to court.
  
Governor Obiano and APGA are yet to take a position on the defection, but how far the divorce in Awka Government House between the governor and his deputy would go to impact on the November 6, gubernatorial poll is debatable, because although coming from the relatively more populous Anambra Central District, Okeke does not seem to command impressive following.
  
The political show of strength between APGA and APC broke out immediately Prof. Chukwuman Soludo and Senator Andy Uba, who hail from the same old Aguata bloc of Anambra State emerged as standard bearers of the two parties respectively.
  
While Soludo prides in his academic and professional accomplishments to win the governorship contest, Senator Uba has been demonstrating his famed political clout by poaching prominent stakeholders from the other contending parties to bolster his chances.