Published On: Sun, Sep 24th, 2017

Anambra 2017: The battles before the polls

Obinna Ezugwu

 

In August, former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State under Peter Obi, Mr. Oseloka Obaze and a member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Tony Nwoye defied the odds to emerge candidates of the country’s two major political parties: the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the All Progressives Congress (APC)   respectively, for the November 18 governorship election in the state. But ever since, neither of them nor their parties has known rest.

 

It is expected, elections in Anambra have always witnessed a clash of heavyweights, which are of course, never in short supply. This year, both the state’s council of traditional rulers, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other stakeholders intervened to ensure that things didn’t go wild as it used to by encouraging parties to field only candidates from the Anambra North Senatorial zone in the spirit of equity.

This, in part, informed the decision of the PDP and the APC to nominate Obaze and Nwoye who are from the zone to challenge the incumbent Willie Obiano in what is now effectively an Anambra North affair. This has helped, to an extent, in reducing tensions. But it is still Anambra and controversies have not been in short supply.

 

In the PDP, it has been a running battle between Obaze who is backed by his former boss, Obi and the party’s leadership on one hand, and the defeated aspirants, including Capital Oil CEO, Ifeanyi Uba; Senator Stella Uduah, representing Anambra North; former Minister of State for Transport, John Emeka and Mr. Alex Obiogbolu who insist that the primary that produced Obaze was marred with irregularities and that the candidate is not qualified to contest in the first place on the other hand. According to them, Obaze has not been in the party long enough and didn’t satisfy the mandatory years required to be a candidate.

 

Last week, the aggrieved aspirants, in a letter dated September 10, 2017 and addressed to the Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who had invited them to a meeting in the state with a view to resolving the issues, insisted that Obaze will not receive their support if the party failed to address their grievances.

 

The letter read in part: “The national leadership of our party should consider and nominate another aspirant as governorship candidate amongst the underlisted who were cleared and are capable of flying the party’s flag: Prince John Emeka, Alex Obiogbolu, Stella Oduah, Ifeanyi Ubah.

 

“The nomination of Oseloka Obaze who was not qualified to contest the election shall not receive our support.”

 

Yet, in another letter dated September 13 and addressed to the party’s National Caretaker Committee (NCC) Chairman, Ahmed Makarfi, the aspirants maintained that the primary that produced Obaze was marred with irregularities, even as they said his emergence is against the party’s constitution.

 

“It is worthy to state that Oseloka Obaze was not qualified ab-initio to contest for the Governorship Primary election of the PDP,” the letter read.

 

“He was not qualified to have been nominated to contest the gubernatorial primary as he has not met with provisions of article 50 (4) and (5)  of the Party constitution and Part 3 Section 2 (j) of the electoral guideline which stipulated that:‘An aspirant to the gubernatorial primary election shall not be qualified to be nominated or to contest the primary election, if he/she: (j) is not a member of the PDP for at least two years preceding the election except if waived by the appropriate Executive of the Party.’

 

“The purported waiver granted to Obaze after the nomination was never ratified in accordance with the party constitution.”

 

However, the NCC last week, upheld the election of the former SSG’s as disclosed by Chinwe Nnorom, head of the party’s publicity division who said the committee took the decision after examining all the said petitions and called on all members to rally behind the candidate.

 

“The leadership enjoins all party members and supporters in Anambra, especially the aspirants, to put the issues regarding the primary election before, during and after behind them,” he said. “We should work together as one indivisible family ahead of the November 18 governorship election.”

 

Not to be assuaged, Uba addressed a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday accusing Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, Obi and other members of the party of collusion in manipulating the primary, and insisted that only the court would have the final say, a move that earned him suspension from the party on Thursday.

 

“I will be approaching the court to determine the legality or otherwise of the PDP primary in the state”, he said. “The election is fraudulent and it is illegal. However, we will allow the court to determine whether the party has the right to trample on its own constitution and the Electoral Act.

 

“The list of delegates used for the election was different from the list of delegates given to the Independent National Electoral Commission. The commission supervised delegates’ election and the party submitted the names of the delegates. But my party manufactured list names and names a day to the primary.”

 

“In the quest for justice, I submit myself to fight this illegality and injustice for my sake as well as that of anyone who aspires to contest on the party’s platform and I hope that justice will prevail in the end.”

 

On Thursday, Uba was suspended by the party. Attempts to reach Obaze for comments on the above allegations did not yield fruit as calls to his mobile number went unanswered.

 

Meanwhile, Obi who is backing him for the polls Thursday, at a PDP interactive forum in Nnewi, restated his resolve to ensure that Obiano did not return elected as governor as according to him, he had nothing to show for the years he has been in office. He insisted however, that his decision was not based on selfish interest, but to make sure that the people of the state got the best leadership.

 

“I have no selfish interest in putting anyone into office, my interest is to ensure that the people of the state get the best, and equally fight bad governance anywhere no matter who is concerned.” The former governor and the incumbent had been in a running battle since the former left office in 2014.

 

In the APC, Nwoye, since his emergence as candidate has witnessed relentless effort to shove him aside by the more politically savvy, wealthier, yet less popular aspirant, Senator Andy Uba whom he beat to a distance second place in the primary election last month. While the likes of old Anambra State governor, Senator Jim Nwobodo and Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima who was chairman of the organising committee for the primary election had affirmed that the election was transparent, Uba’s men have continued to insist that Nwoye step aside.

 

Last Sunday, the Shettima led committee presented its report on the election to the National Organising Secretary of the APC, Senator Osita Izunaso, in Abuja with a resolution by members of that none of the contestants who took part in the poll questioned the integrity of the electoral process before, during and after primaries.

 

But within the week, two groups in the party; the All Progressive Congress‎ Youth Network (APCYN) and the All Progressives Congress Front (APCF), petitioned the appeals panel asking it to disqualify Nwoye, alleging that he had a history of banditry and does not have what it takes to win the election.

 

In their separate petitions signed by Mr. Ifeka Egbunike, the state coordinator of APCYN and Emmanuel Sawyer, National Secretary of APCF, the group insisted that Nwoye was incapable of governing the state, which according to them, was why former president, Goodluck Jonathan refused to support him in 2013 when he was PDP candidate.

 

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan rejected the selection of Nwoye as gubernatorial candidate in 2013 based on security reports and moral burden. The former President could not raise the hand of Tony Nwoye as PDP aspirant because of the moral burden despite the overtures made to the former President by Chief Arthur Eze,” the petition read.

 

“If a corrupt party like PDP could refuse to associate itself with Tony Nwoye, how then can a party that preaches zero tolerance for corruption and illegality contemplate having such person as its flag-bearer.

 

‎“In all practical purposes, Tony Nwoye’s work experience is limited to his two years sitting as a member of House of Representatives. In this era of advancement in modern management of human and material resources, Anambra State needs not only a technocrat, but also an experienced politician who can take our dear state to the next level.”

 

The groups went on to allege that the primary was manipulated, insisting that the APC was sure to lose the November polls with Nwoye as candidate.

 

“Given the background of the incumbent governor and other candidates of our opposing political parties, to give the candidacy to such a personality is to contemplate losing the election.

 

“There were substantial non-compliance to guidelines in the South and Central Senatorial District where it was observed that the accreditation tags were stamped with fake stamps and were signed by unauthorised officer.

 

“The candidate, Tony Nwoye deployed tactics of harassment and intimidation in a bid to secure votes from delegates.”

 

A fortnight ago, various organisations: the Anambra APC Forum, Abuja; All Progressives Congress Voters Club; South-East All Progressive Congress Forum and Igbo/Yoruba Unity Forum also asked that the primary election be cancelled and a re-run held.

 

The scheming for Nwoye’s removal is rife, and the candidate had opted to leave Uba, his boss to God. But even in the unlikely event that the senator manages to topple him and becomes candidate, it would only compound the party’s challenges.

 

When compared to Uba, Nwoye is a more popular individual in the state despite the fact that Uba is richer and has more political reach, but as a party, the APC is unpopular in the state, and the recent deployment of military to the South East zone has not helped its cause. The election, observers say, is most likely going to be decided between Obaze and Obiano who is running as incumbent under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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