• Anxiety Over Moles, Matchmaking Aspirants
On June 26, 2021, two major rival opposition political parties in Anambra State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will conduct governorship primary election to nominate their standard bearers for the November 6, 2021 gubernatorial poll in the state.
The decision to hold the crucial straw polls on the same day underscores the subsisting mutual suspicion between the two parties that moles and marginal aspirants were planted to grab the ticket for transactional purposes.
Politics and elections in Anambra do not follow or flow on a predictable pattern. The only state in the country that shadows the state in intrigues is Ogun State. But, unlike Ogun State, Anambra parades political godfathers and investors.
To make matters more intriguing, it is hard to rule out the deep involvement of the church, which plays up the interdenominational competition for power. The religious coloration of Anambra politics is accentuated by the strong divide between dominant Catholics on the one hand and the Anglican Communion/Methodist community on the other.
During governorship elections, these powerful forces collide, making the contest very combative and competitive. In the interplay of fiscal strength and religious flavor, it is not out of place for pawns to be foisted on the chessboard of the ultimate power game.
What came as a major highlight of the pre-governorship primary season was the surprise defection of 2017 APC governorship standard bearer, Hon. Tony Nwoye, to PDP, on which platform he served previously as state chairman and governorship candidate respectively.
Was Nwoye, the first runner-up in the 2017 governorship contest, running away from APC because of perceived back channel negotiations to crown a preferred candidate? Did he move to PDP to take his perceived Senatorial ambition to the camp of the incumbent rival, knowing that dislodging her at the primary would bring him close to the Red chamber in 2023?
Yet, there are small talks that Nwoye was talked into returning to PDP with a view to clinching the party’s ticket knowing that that could be the only way to block PDP from winning. The zoning agitation is well defined in APC and although PDP was indifferent to zoning the governorship, it is generally perceived that thoughts about another Anambra North citizen succeeding incumbent Governor Willie Obiano, is not only cheeky, but titanic hallucination.
Whether Nwoye returned to PDP to take advantage of the no zoning consideration or a strategic move to prepare well ahead for the 2023 contest for Anambra North Senatorial seat currently occupied by Senator Adaeze Stella Oduah, the move emerged as the first sign that the horse-trading for the gubernatorial poll has begun.
Ever since that surprising defection by a governorship aspirant, enormous pressure has been piling up within the four prominent contending political platforms in the state, namely, All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressive Party (YPP).
YPP: Ubah Versus Ubah
EVEN before the guber primaries are held, YPP stands out as the only party that has already selected its candidate for the November 6 election. The party’s lone star, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, has been touring the 21 council areas in what is tagged, ‘Thank You and Declaration Tour.
It could be said that the Senator is contesting against Ifeanyi Ubah, the governorship aspirant, a development that warranted the double mandate of his statewide tour.
As the Senator/aspirant mobilises huge crowds, comprising mainly youth and women, he is being accused in subdued tones of trying to gamble his way to the Anambra State Government House by positioning to take advantage of possible intra-party misgivings among the major platforms.
Ubah is also being accused of playing a spoiler role for other governorship aspirants from the Nnewi area, especially against the belief that the zone just gifted him with a Senatorial laurel barely two years ago.
The YPP leader told The Guardian that he is not afraid of gang-ups, stressing that Anambra politicians have learnt to fear him not only on account of his crowd-pulling potentials, but also for the fact that he has emerged as candidate before others.
PDP: Billionaires’ Gala
IF there is any party where the adrenalin is high among contestants, it is the old giant PDP. PDP is parading 16 billionaires, three of which are women for the governorship. As obtains in every billionaires club, PDP governorship aspirants are taking the contest as a festival of fiscal display, even as few among them display flashes of political brilliance.
In a bid to court and capture the attention of party faithful, three governorship aspirants, namely Wilson Ude, Valentine Ozigbo and Dr. Godwin Maduka, sprayed cash and automobiles on local government chapters of the party.
If scarcity of Sienna buscars hits the Nigeria auto mart, most assuredly, Anambra politicians, majorly of the PDP hue, are to blame. While Ude began the belated logistic enhancement of the local government structures, Ozigbo and Maduka joined the bandwagon.
Speaking while donating 25 of such vehicles to Anambra PDP recently, the US-based Medical Doctor, Maduka, promised to ensure adequate security in the state if nominated and subsequently elected governor.
Apart from promising to renovate and build new barracks for all the security agencies, as well as deploying aerial and land surveillance systems to preempt and prevent crimes in the state, Maduka disclosed that 21 Sienna cars should go to the local government chapters, while the rest four are for party executives for efficient coordination.
But, while the car donors are at it, some other aspirants, including Hon. Chris Azubuogu and Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, are reaching out by selling their ideas and programmes to the delegates and stakeholders.
For instance, speaking when he visited the Obi of Onitsha, founder of Pro-Value Humanity Foundation and United Nigeria Airlines, Dr. Okonkwo, said, “Anambra State now needs a different kind of leadership, a governor with an awakened leadership trait. A man who is awake and richly possessed with wishful impulses that is capable of responding to any emerging development challenges.
“He must be different from the rest in terms of his bearing on politics and governance. He must be driven by deep patriotic devotion to the cause of the state to lead the people to the chosen new trajectory.
“Leadership is an English word and a noun representing the action of leading a group of people or a body of individuals into a team, organization or community, it follows that leading the state requires leadership influence built on selflessness and vision that are tied to the collective aspiration of the people representing the goal the leader is set to achieve.”
APGA: Gallery Giants
ORDINARILY, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) should have been the platform to beat in the coming Anambra gubernatorial poll. But, as the governing party, it is bogged down by the perceived indifference of the outgoing governor and lackluster party administration, such that it has become the champion of the gallery.
APGA parades fewer number of aspirants, but instead of that being a sign of health, it rather indicates the state of suspense and anomie in the party.
Apart from the attack on one of the prominent names contesting the party’s ticket, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the party’s only unique mention surrounds the leadership disputes between Chief Edozie Njoku and Sir Victor Oye.
While the party’s substantive delegates reportedly elected Njoku, Oye, who is drawing oxygen from the outgoing governor, claims that he is serving his second term in office as national chairman. In the absence of party elders and the governor’s cloudy understanding of politics, nobody is intervening for sanity to prevail. Rather, the party seems to be looking up to the courts or the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to have the final say on who is its national chairman.
It could be in anticipation that the courts would rule in its favour that Oye announced that the sale of forms would begin in June. But backed by strong procedural points and judicial pronouncements in his favour so far, Njoku announced that the sale of expression of interest and nominations forms commenced on March.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja recently, Njoku said that as the authentic national chairman of the party, he wants to use the Anambra governorship to bring back APGA to its founding principles and ideals.
He explained that in line with the vision of the founding fathers that APGA should serve as platform for the grooming of future leaders, his executive decided to peg the cost of nomination form at N12milion.
Chief Njoku lamented that past leaders of APGA allowed the platform to adorn the status of an auctioneer’s warehouse dispensing party positions to the highest bidder.
“I do not see why party members who want to serve their people should be intimidated by high cost of nomination forms. How can visionary leaders compete with men of property for leadership if the emphasis is on money,” he queried.
While stressing that his major preoccupation is to unify the party and rekindle the spirit of brotherly love among APGA members, Chief Njoku said high cost of purchasing forms should not be allowed to dissuade emergent leaders from contesting elections.
His words: “In the past, right people; and men and women of character are dissuaded from expressing their interest in politics and governance by inexplicable high cost of nomination forms. This leaves the impression that political power is cash and carry.
“We are moving away from those bad old ways. On my watch, APGA has pegged its nomination form at 12million. The governorship primary, as our timetable of events shows, holds on June 25, 2021. On June 12, 2021 the list of elected delegates would be made public.”
Apart from Soludo, former Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, Nze Akachukwu Sullivan Nwankpo and Hon. Umeoji, are showing serious signs to contest the governorship on APGA platform.
Nwankpo recently joined in the distribution of Sienna vehicles to demonstrate his capacity to match contenders from other parties. This is just as some APGA faithful allege that Hon. Umeoji, who is a known political godson of Senator Andy Uba, may be in the race for yet to be identified reasons.
APC: Abuja Considerations
ONE common understanding among the nine aspirants on Anambra APC platform is their belief that Abuja (read Presidency) would show the way.
Senator Andy Uba and Dr. George Moghalu are being tipped as possible preferred aspirants of the national leadership of the party, just as Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo and Sir Azuka Okwuosa, claim that they are the choice of national leaders and members of the party respectively.
Last weekend, perhaps to demonstrate that he is the man to beat for the party’s ticket, Senator Uba, who is running as governor in waiting, distributed Sienna cars and cash to local council executives of the party.
Perhaps, to show that their principal is the preferred choice, APC women numbering close to 5, 000 trooped to the Moghalu’s Governorship Campaign headquarters at Udoka Housing Estate, Awka.
Moghalu, who is also the Managing Director of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) urged his supporters to be focused, stressing that after bidding his time in opposition and aligning with the interest of the party, he was sure to contest the governorship as APC’s standard bearer.
Recently, members of legacy political parties within APC in the state said they have endorsed Okwuosa as their consensus choice. Announcing the decision in Awka, founder of APGA, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said the endorsement was the outcome of series of meetings, where the strengths and weaknesses of the aspirants were evaluated.
While stressing that APC was the party to beat on November 6, Okorie said Okwuosa has capacity, experience and first hand knowledge of the state to deliver the goods. He declared that there is hope for the Igbo in APC.
Who is serious, who is standing in for another? That is the question on the lips of observers as aspirants engage in campaign gymnastics with aloof Anambra electorate. The coming days would provide answers to the posers.