Anambra 2017: Enter gang ups, violations and closet deals
While the controversies over the issue of transparent delegate selection raged, unchallenged governorship candidate of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, came out in strong repudiation of calls for political parties to abide by the zoning arrangement or risk the ire of the people.
Ezeemo insisted that there was nothing like zoning of the governorship seat in the state, stressing that the demand by Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo, Anambra Union and others, that Anambra north should be allowed the next four years, was not tenable.
The PPA candidate contended further that if such an arrangement should come on stream, it ought to start from Anambra south senatorial district, instead of the north. He pointed out that since Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, who governed the state from 1999 to 2003, did only one term showed that the injustice against Anambra south should be corrected before any other zone.
“Ceding the position to Anambra north merely because of the incumbent is not a proper basis to start talking zoning,” Ezeemo maintained.
But seemingly undeterred by voices of dissent against zoning, eminent stakeholders under the auspices of Anambra Union (AnU), Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo and Anambra Traditional Rulers, held a peace meeting with governorship aspirants from Anambra north in Nnewi.
The six governorship aspirants that attended the parley, included Dr. Chike Obidigbo (APC), Oseloka Obaze (PDP); Paul Chukwuma (APC); Dr. Alex Obiogbolu (PDP); Prince John Emeka (PDP) and Hon. Zeribe Ezeanuna (PDP).
At the meeting, former Health Minister, Prof. ABC Nwosu, explained that the essence of the zoning arrangement was to bring sanity into politics and electoral contests in Anambra State, adding that the position of all stakeholders is that Anambra north should be allowed to complete its remaining four years.
Prof. Nwosu disclosed that AnU renewed its call on all political parties to pick their governorship candidate from Anambra north to promote electoral order in the state, warning that the union will mobilize the people against any party that refuses to conform to the zoning arrangement.
Dr. Obidigbo, who responded on behalf of other aspirants commended AnU for the initiative of entrenching zoning, pointing out that the waste of resources, rancour and bitterness that follow governorship election had been pulling the state back.
Obidigbo said the aspirants have been carrying out their campaigns in friendly manner, assuring that if elected as governor he would carry everybody along to harness the wasting energy of youth and women through job creation and economic empowerment.
Gang-up, Endorsement And Delegate Disputations
IT was a mixed bag for a frontline All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant, Senator Andy Uba. While some of his fellow aspirants accused him of plotting to clinch the party’s ticket through underhand method, a coalition of 15 registered political parties, under auspices of Mega Coalition, endorsed the senator for the governorship poll.
Chief Perry Opara, who announced the endorsement, explained that although APC paraded an array of competent aspirants, his group settled for Senator Uba after a rigorous assessment.
While noting that even though APC appeared not to rank highly in the estimation of Southeast voters, Opara said Senator Uba emerged after national chairmen of the various political parties chose him as the best and most experienced of the aspirants.
He disagreed with suggestions that the consideration was not done on the basis of party platform, adding:; “a political party is like the vehicle to get to the destination while the `passenger’ is the candidate. We don’t want to support a candidate for the sake of printing posters and mounting billboards. We want to win.’’
The expectation of the coalition, Opara explained, is to form a ‘government of Unity’ in the state, when the consensus candidate wins the November 18 poll.
But even as he was being endorsed by the mega coalition, within the fold of APC aspirants, Senator Uba is being accused of doing things that do not promote the course of free and fair contest for the party’s ticket.
Incensed by what he described as the senator’s desperation, Hon Tony Nwoye, threatened to mobilise against the party if Uba clinches the ticket, adding that he did a lot of negative things that have continued haunt Uba and his brothers only to be paid with ingratitude and disdain.
Also within the United Progressive Party (UPP) the rage against delegate manipulation continues. An aspirant Nze Valentine Ugo-Akpe Onwuka (Oyi na Oyi II) renounced the secret deals going on in the party. Nze Onwuka, who hails from same community as late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, but also bears the Oyi of Oyi title; wrote a lengthy letter of complaint chronicling instances of duplicity in the processes leading to the August 19 governorship primary of the party.
In the letter he addressed to the Team Tiger, the aspirant wrote: “It is quite unfortunate that just few months to the November 18 elections, things have gone awry. A party that was once composed of comrades and friends who were united in the struggle for the actualization of our dreams as a people has suddenly and shockingly been turned into a party that trust has been throttled. Bitter accusations of advanced electoral fraud in the form of delegates’ list manipulation have been bandied about.”
Onwuka lamented that the atmosphere inside the party has become very suffocating with the latest development, regretting that: “It is certainly obvious that this is not the party that I joined, believing in the professed equity, fair play and transparency.”
He noted that the “unfortunate act of countenancing the doctoring of the delegates list on two occasions, though without success has unwittingly brought an uncertain dark clouds hanging over the party,” adding that the immediate perception of foul play within the party signaled a very major storm brewing, and one that is most definitely going to cost the party the main elections come November 18h.
His words: “I am sad that it played out the way I feared. In my own local government, certain key positions were switched with people that were not on the harmonized list, and even having a deceased individual replacing a living person as a ward chairman. I am more shocked, because I have read people call for proof of this manipulation with a straight face.
“Why should we even be discussing another harmonisation, when the last harmonised list was not adhered to? The right and democratic thing to do is for the national body to document the list from the ward, local government and state for record purposes, and not to start altering any aspect of the submitted list.”
He recalled that; “when this ugly monster of ‘list padding’ reared its ugly hydra head, the local government chairmen and the state executive, through a rigorous process with MOBIN rectified the obvious padding of the list at that time.”
Wondering what happened to the harmonized list sent to the national headquarters of the party, Nze Onwuka asked rhetorically, “how come we are being told that we should be subjected to another round of rigorous harmonisation of another padded list? What happened to the harmonised list sent to the National?”
APGA Writhes In Court
Incubent Governor Willie Obiano recently inaugurated an 87-member campaign committee to erase doubts about his participation in the forthcoming polls. Prominent members of the committee include, immediate past APGA national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano, Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke and state chairman of APGA, Sir Norbert Obi. While Umeh is to serve as chairman, Mr. Primus Odili is named secretary of the committee.
Speaking during the inauguration of the committee in the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, Governor Obiano explained that “members of this very important committee” were carefully selected, even as he described them as persons whose loyalty to the party are not in doubt.
The governor noted that despite challenges, APGA remains the party to beat in the state, pointing out that based on its outstanding performances over the years, there is nothing to fear about the November 18 poll, stressing that a united APGA will emerge victorious at the end.
However, despite the governor’s optimism, APGA continues to walk through the courts in search of unity and stable leadership. State High courts in Awka and Nnewi recently ruled against the conduct of the party primary and recognised Victor Oye as the authentic national chairman of the party.
Oye told reporters in Awka that by virtue of the court rulings, he was to conduct the governorship not minding that Ochudo Martin Agbaso, and not he, wrote the Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC) for the mandatory 21 days notice for holding the election.
It was perhaps in a bid to clear the doubts created by Oye’s position that the national deputy chairman (south), Comrade Jerry Obasi, told journalists in Owerri, that the national executive committee of APGA led by Chief Martin Agbaso remains the only authority vested with the responsibility of conducting affairs of the party, including organising the gubernatorial primary election.
Obasi disclosed that the May 22, 2017 ruling of Enugu High Court by Justice H. Ozoemena, which gave the order of mandamus to Agbaso, compelled the Police and INEC to deal with Agbaso as the APGA national chairman.
“It is on record that Oye approached the Court of Appeal in Enugu seeking to be joined in the suit and vacation of the order, but while the Appeal Court joined him, it refused the application to vacate the order,” Obasi explained.
He disclosed that after failing to vacate the order, Oye and his group approached two courts of equal jurisdiction in Awka and Nnewi, on the same issue, stressing that since there is hierarchy in judicial process, only the Supreme Court can set aside an order or judgment of the Court of Appeal.
From the look of things generally, the real picture of what would obtain in Anambra for the election would emerge by September 21 when INEC publishes its final list of contestants.