APC guber primary as reflections of unwritten charter in Anambra politics

Chief Jim Nwobodo-led APC committee on Anambra election saw the charter of equity as germane, as according to a source, “they had noted that even if every other thing should be compromised, that one is a no-go area, unless the party is not going into the election to win.”

Last Saturday’s primary election of the APC has further confirmed how sacrosanct politicians hold the unwritten code of equity as a political instrument in the emergence of governors in Anambra State.

For watchers of political events as they unfold in Anambra State, especially as the primary election to determine the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), held last Saturday is concerned, the outcome was greatly influenced by an unwritten charter of equity and power rotation among the three senatorial districts of the state.

Other factors responsible for the outcome also include blackmail by politicians who raked dirty muds about each other, subtle coercion by those who wield the power in the party hierarchy and the influence of money especially on Election Day.

At the conclusion of the laborious exercise which strayed till yesterday afternoon and monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a member of the House of Representatives, Tony Nwoye beat eleven other aspirants, securing 2,146 votes from the votes cast by the over 5,400 delegates that were accredited for the event, to emerge the governorship candidate of the party. Other scores are Andy Uba; 931 votes, George Muoghalu; 525 votes, Barth Nwibe; 414 votes and Paul Chukwuma; 110 votes among others.

Nwoye, who defected to the APC from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the wake of the leadership crisis that rocked the party recently, will be making a second attempt at the governorship seat, having lost the opportunity to the incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano in the 2013 governorship election as a candidate of the PDP.

One interesting thing about the Nwoye victory from the crowded primary is the fact that he hails from Anambra North Senatorial zone with Obiano and while the incumbent governor won in 2013 on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Nwoye took the second position.

There were indications that a last minute maneuvering may have seriously influenced the choice of the delegates. It was gathered that the leadership of the party had played along the path that retaining the governorship slot in Anambra North would brighten the chances of the party. This is based on the unwritten charter of equity in the state that since the immediate past governor, Peter Obi, hails from Anambra Central, served for eight years and handed power to the North; it was natural that the zone be allowed to complete their eight years tenure before the political power rotates to another zone.

Chief Olisa Uwaegbule had told The Guardian, “in 2013, Ngige (Chris) did not make much impact despite his popularity because, there was a widely held notion that power should shift to the north. You will be altering the equation as well as promoting injustice if you do not allow them to continue to serve.

“A party like APC is founded on justice and has change as its slogan. We believe that our people should have the say at all times. Now we have given them their heart desire, it is left for them to reciprocate by voting the APC in the election proper. We want to use this to gain acceptance.”

Sources said that the Chief Jim Nwobodo-led APC committee on Anambra election saw the charter of equity as germane, as according to a source, “they had noted that even if every other thing should be compromised, that one is a no-go area, unless the party is not going into the election to win.”

Nwobodo had always emphasized that all the aspirants were qualified by the judgment of his committee to win election in the state and going by the programmes they planned to pursue if elected. He however stressed that there were other considerations, which must include acceptance, experience and the political mood of the state.

The Nwobodo committee had assured that a win in the election would set the pace for other victories for the party in the 2019 general election in the Southeast. It decided to put all in their ability to ensure that the process that would lead to the emergence of their flag bearer was smooth, free and fair, adding that it was also to position the party as a strong brand in the state.

Although, the committee has dutifully carried out its assignments with the several engagements on the aspirants before now, it was gathered that consideration for funds to prosecute the election was another factor that influenced the choice of candidate. A source had hinted, “challenging an incumbent in an election as big as governorship requires huge finances,” stressing that “the APC does not have such funds and will require financial support to prosecute the election.”

Reports were rife last week that Nwoye struck an agreement with billionaire business mogul, Arthur Eze to finance his election for some juicy offices in return should he win. Although Chief Eze has denied such agreement and document as “fake and handiwork of criminals” as well as coming from “aspirants who would not pass the primary of the party,” he accepted that he has enough resources to sponsor elections and “give money to government.”

Nwoye is Eze’s political godson and has always relied on his financial support in his political endeavours. In 2014, when he ran on the PDP platform for governorship, Eze allegedly bankrolled the election. It was not a surprise then to many how he was able to muster resources after the long battle to reclaim the ticket of the party lost to crisis to launch elaborate campaigns that took him round the state in less than one week to the election.

Those, who peddle the rumours that a fresh agreement had been entered between him and the billionaire business man to prosecute the coming election, allege a last minute distribution on Saturday night that assailed delegates’ votes in his (Nwoye) favour.

It was alleged that some of the aspirants, who got wind of the plot including Dr Chike Obidigbo, were said to have withdrawn and never bothered to pick the expression of interest and nomination forms from the party.

Instrument of coercion and blackmail
The election saw the deployment of blackmail, cajoling or coercion as instruments to swing the votes for one or two of the aspirants. It was gathered that several delegates who came from the various local governments and wards were frustrated after spending several hours under intense sun to be accredited and cast their votes for their choice aspirants.

From morning, voting did not commence until about 7.00pm. A source said some delegates who were worn out with the “waiting game,” left after accreditation “without voting,” stressing that, “those who have the resources started poaching the delegates and were able to woo some to their side, especially with resources available to them.”

It was gathered that certain aspirants also embarked on campaign of calumny against others. For instance, reference to the attack launched on the state in 2005 in which several institutions belonging to the state government were destroyed as well as other politically motivated killings, became handy. The source stated that one of the aspirants, who had earlier denied plot that the primary had been compromised, was accused of championing the attack on the state and later turned back to acquire some of the burnt public property for himself.

Other factors that counted against some of the aspirants were their lack of grassroots support. Some were said to be testing the murky political waters for the first time in the state and as such lacked the necessary experience to carry them through.

Nwoye, outside being favoured by the unwritten charter of equity was said to have maintained the political structure and contacts that worked for him during the 2014 election. His membership of the House of Representatives also was an additional advantage. The source said that but for the crisis that engulfed the PDP in the state in 2004 after the primary election, which did not give him enough room to run his governorship campaigns, he would have given the APGA, a run for their money. Being a youth, they said youthful involvement into Anambra campaign was one of his strongest points, which may be of advantage in the election.

Implication for November 18
Political observers believe that the November 18 governorship election is taking the shape expected of it. It is easy to predict that the election is between the APGA, APC and the PDP. What primarily has worked for the Anambra North Senatorial zone is the fact that major contenders and parties in the race have narrowed their search and nominations to the area. Should the PDP adopt a candidate from the area, then it will become a contest of brothers which ordinarily is to their advantage.

The worry however is the crisis in the APGA that has thrown up two candidates and whether Nwoye and his party can convince Anambra people that they could serve as alternative. This is because, despite the hold on-to-power of APGA so far in the state, PDP still remains a potent force, which could win election any day should their internal crisis be settled. If the PDP remains in its crisis path and Obiano’s APGA refuses to toll path of peace, APC is likely to surface. On the other hand however, Nwoye is bound to spring surprises with the support of the APC-led Federal Government and the fact that there are no litigations and distractions in the party trailing his emergence as it was during the 2013 general elections.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Anambra State Gubernatorial Election Planning Committee of the APC, Nwobodo, has congratulated Nwoye for his emergence as the party’s candidate.

In a release he personally signed yesterday, Nwobodo, a former governor of old Anambra State, said, “I watched with keen interest the live transmission of the 2017 All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Primary for Anambra State, where Dr. Tony Nwoye was declared as the winner with a total of 2,146 votes. I congratulate Dr. Nwoye for the overwhelming mandate.  This is a victory for the APC and all the aspirants for the peaceful manner they conducted themselves at the primary.

“I wish to use this opportunity to remind all the aspirants of their commitment to support whoever emerges as the party flagbearer. And appeal to you to join Dr. Tony Nwoye and form a formidable campaign team that would secure victory for our party, the APC, in the forthcoming November 18 Governorship Election.

“I also congratulate the Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, and his Committee for conducting a free, credible and rancour-free primary in the state, making it the first time any political party would conduct such a transparent and rancour free primary in the state. I wish to congratulate the National Chairman and National Working Committee for making this possible.”

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