Anambra guber: Why APC’s Andy ‘fell’
It was a fall he did not anticipate or envisage. It was yet a self-inflicted electoral disaster on the part of his political party-the All Progressives Congress (APC). Not that alone, there were many underlying issues that made it imperative that Senator Andy Uba, the APC candidate in the recent Anambra State governorship poll, would fall short of the high expectations he infused into his supporters.
In the build-up to last Saturday’s election, riding on a mammoth war chest of financial resources, Senator Uba created a giant image similar to that of Titanic. His emergence as the APC standard bearer instilled fear in the minds of other candidates, even as it buoyed confidence in his supporters.
Based on that sure-footed confidence, politicians from other political platforms took pleasure in crossing over to the ‘winning side. Those who were exhibiting doubts were poached in a manner similar to the trans-Atlantic slave sullies of the pre-abolition era.
With such political actors in his corner, such as a former Board of Trustee (BoT) member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Joy Emordi, her successor on the seat of Anambra North Senatorial District in the current Senate, Adaeze Stella Oduah, former Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, hon. Chinwe Nwaebili; Ifeanyi Ibezi; Hon. Christopher Okwudili Ezenwankwo and others, Andy was perceived as a governor-in-waiting.
While those heavyweights were procured, ostensibly to drive voters’ loyalty into the APC ticket, what made the biggest headlines was the cross-over of the incumbent Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke, from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to APC.
If Nkem Okeke’s rejection of his master to embrace the APC candidate was intended to demoralise the APGA leader and outgoing governor, Chief Willie Obiano, it ended up as a classical replay of Judas’ escapade and a scar on the deputy governor’s political profile.
On election day, November 6, 2021, the perceived electoral field marshals failed to galvanise their constituencies. And their principal could not believe his eyes as results began to trickle in from various polling units across the state, pointing to one inevitable outcome: Andy was losing. And he fell from the large than life public perception that was enhanced by the belief in the old politics of federal might intervention.
The ultimate crash of the Andy/APC Titanic was a reality that many observers found hard to contemplate. Although most of the contending parties in the election made the outgoing governor the butt of their attacks, chronicling his perceived failure to deliver on his eight years’ mandate, Obiano and APGA campaigned as if all depended on the promise of their standard-bearer, a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
But, apart from the shining resume and political profile of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, there were many reasons why APC’s Andy fell from the pinnacle of public perception of his candidacy to the fourth position in the hard-fought election.
The reasons include, reliance on overrated political points men/women, elite doubts/distance, backlash from the party’s primary, old political sins, Arise TV debate and conspiracy of elite.
Conspiracy of APC elite
PERHAPS, the greatest undoing of Senator Andy Uba was the wide distance that APC stalwarts from Anambra State gave to his aspiration. Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige and Minister of State for Environment Sharon Ikeazor were not involved in the electioneering of the party towards the governorship poll.
Sources said that it was in a bid to call the bluff of the party leaders that the APC governorship candidate embarked on the massive recruitment of his former PDP colleagues, a development that further alienated the mainstream of the party.
The dichotomy between old and new members was so defined that the campaign flag-off was shifted many times without any commitment from the national leadership of APC. The Guardian was told that there were very strong protest letters to the APC headquarters and the Presidency warning the leadership of the dire negative imputations of openly supporting Andy Uba to become governor of Anambra State.
To make matters worse, supporters of the Managing Director of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, who had looked to the party to reward his years in opposition and loyalty to APC, were disappointed when Andy forced his way unto the ballot.
Although Moghalu’s supporters did not quit the party, they remained to “see what magic the disputed governorship candidate would perform to win the election.’
And, unlike Moghalu’s supporters, the other thirteen governorship aspirants, except Sir Azuka Okwuosa and JohnBosco Onunkwo, left the party in anger. Chairman of Wichtech, Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo, who campaigned vigorously on the possibility that he would emerge as the compromise candidate, left and joined the African Action Congress (AAC). He was later to pick the party’s ticket for the election.
Chartered Accountant and elder son of the first female governor of the state, Dame Virgy Etiaba, Bennett, also turned his back on APC and pitched tent with Action Alliance (AA). He also became the governorship standard-bearer of the party.
In an interview with The Guardian, Chief Chekwas Okorie, disclosed that some chieftains of APC who foresaw the impending calamity reached out to the national leadership of the party but regretted that the desired reconciliation was not embarked upon.
But, at the state level, Senator Andy Uba told party faithful that there was no way he did not plead with other aspirants, particularly Dr. Moghalu, to join hands with him to unite the party for the eventual governorship contest. He lamented that the NIWA MD was insistent on holding onto his appointment, as well as aspiring to become a governor at the same time.
On his part, Dr. Moghalu said it was unthinkable that somebody should come into a party and ride roughshod over foundation members in a brazen manner. The NIWA MD said he was prepared to relinquish his appointment if that was the only condition for the right things to be done in the selection of the APC flag bearer for the governorship ballot.
Moghalu explained that there was no way, results of a primary election that did not hold anywhere in Anambra State should be accepted in a party he belonged, stressing that going to court was the only legitimate step he could take to show his disagreement. He said that prior to approaching the court he had petitioned the party leadership as well as the Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee informing them of the implication of fielding Senator Andy Uba after he wrote results of an election that did not hold.
Mutual suspicion/money matters
WITH the recriminations that attended the nomination process, mutual suspicion became very defined. Anambra APC stakeholders grumbled that the governorship candidate has influenced national officers of the party to the point of helplessness. Late entrants decided to lord it over old members. There were no concerted and sustained efforts at achieving genuine reconciliation.
The candidate did not engage with the grassroots but depended on subordinate leaders, who were more interested in what they could get rather than the success of the party.
Then, there was revenge from supporters of a party leader who occupied strategic positions in the campaign organisation. Anambra big men also preferred the APGA candidate to an Andy Uba, who would most likely interfere with their cosy relationship with the Presidency.
The mutual suspicion spiralled into the election as those who came into the party were accused of not spending money released to them for logistics and instead believed that there was magic to return the candidate as winner.
That Andy could not win a single local government became the highpoint of the disastrous outing. The Deputy Governor, Okeke, former Speaker, Nwaebili, Senator Oduah, Ibezi and the former AMTA boss, Ezenwankwo among others lost their wards to APGA and PDP. For instance, Ibezi, who was expected to return massive votes from his Abatete Ward, only succeeded in creating chaos, but APGA supporters contained his strong-arm approach.
In all, the echoes of what happened to Tony Nwoye in 2017 played out also, as most of the loyalists of the Nsugbe-born former students’ leader resolved to repay Andy for orchestrating Nwoye’s second-place position in an election he was geared to win.