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Published On: Wed, Aug 30th, 2017

Anambra 2017: Chidoka emerges in UPP amidst protests, but what are his chances?

OBINNA EZUGWU

At the end of the United Progressive Party (UPP) primary election in Anambra a few days ago, one person, Hon Uwakwe Maduabuchi was dead; former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka emerged candidate, and the party is reeling from some sort of crisis courtesy of Chudi Offodile, author of “The Politics of Biafra and the Future of Nigeria” who was runner up in the primary.
Business Hallmark had consistently predicted this outcome. To an extent, the former Federal Road Safety Corps Marshall’s victory does not come as a surprise. He had established himself as a relatively popular figure in Anambra politics having been visible all through the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
But it was a tricky scenario, he joined the UPP few months ago from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and before then, Offodile who was a former member of the House of Representatives, had covered ground, professing what he called the Biafran Ideology mostly through online campaigns. He had reasons to be hopeful of winning the ticket. However, Chidoka, from all indications, was always going to emerge. Despite coming late to the party, he was more outgoing, more interactive and showed greater seriousness.
The former House of Representatives member had since resigned his membership of the party nonetheless. He accuses the leadership, particularly its National Chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie of colluding with Chidoka to alter the list of party delegates elected in “a hotly contested ward and local government congress in June 2017, in line with Article 10[4] of the UPP constitution.”
He alleged further that it was while the late Maduabuchi who was the ward chairman of Owerre Ezukala ward 1, Orumba South Local Government was protesting against the alterations that he was tear-gassed by the police which led to his death.
Okorie however, told Business Hallmark that his allegations were fabrications, describing his resignation as “good riddance to bad rubbish.”
“He didn’t campaign; he didn’t visit UPP members to ask for votes. In some places where he visited, he walked in lackadaisically with just an aide.
“The other person was moving from place to place. So the party members said that this is the person that can very proudly fly the party’s flag. They supported him and gave the ticket to him. The one that felt he could do a hatchet job in the UPP is the one complaining the most. He has resigned from the UPP, so for us, it is good riddance to bad rubbish.”
He insisted that Chidoka as the party’s candidate is all clear and there are no court cases challenging his candidacy. And according to him, the November 18 polls are UPP’s to lose.
Chidoka himself is exuding confidence, noting in Awka recently that there was no way his party would not win the election.
“There is no way any other party can defeat UPP in Anambra State. It is a party built and owned by the people. APGA has completely failed them. APC has rejected, marginalised and dehumanised them as mere 5%, so it has no place here. The PDP has lost its bearing as a party and cannot connect with the people,” he said while receiving supporters in the state capital.
“Go and check, it is only the UPP that has genuine followership across Anambra. While other parties are busy chasing shadows, we have been working hard to build our structures. The people know that the UPP is the authentic political vehicle through which they can realise their aspirations. The time has passed when they can be bought or intimidated. They can no longer be deceived by those who believe they can buy their votes; or those who use the names and faces of our heroes past to get to power.”
The UPP and its candidate has a few factors going in its favour. The ruling party in the state, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) is locked in leadership crisis. At the moment, it has two governorship candidates; the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano who is the candidate of the Chief Victor Oye led faction and Chief Ifeanyi Igwebuike who was elected candidate of the Martin Agbaso led group. The case has gone to the Supreme Court which is yet to decide.
The All Progressive Congress (APC), as the country’s ruling party, will be a force to reckon with, no doubt, even as it parades political heavyweights in the state such as Senator Andy Uba, Hon. Tony Nwoye, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, and many others. But it remains largely unpopular with the people of the state. Apart from being unpopular, there is no guarantee that those who lost out in the primary election will not defect to other parties.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which parades Dr. Ifeanyi Uba, Senator Stella Odua, Mr. Oseloka Obaze and many others has equally been having internal wrangling such that few days to its rescheduled primary election it is yet to come up with a list of delegates acceptable to all. It is understood that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State is now saddled with the responsibility of drawing up delegates list, a prelude for further disagreements after the Monday primary.
To this end therefore, Chidoka as UPP candidate will be looking to benefit from the disagreements in other contending political parties. The UPP as a party equally has a manifesto that aligns with the self determination ideals of pro-Biafra agitators in the state, but only of the extent of using the party as a political platform to negotiate a better deal for Ndigbo, and equal treatment of all Nigerians in a restructured federation.
These ideals have enhanced the party’s popularity in the state – it is now second, perhaps only to APGA in that regard; yet, only because APGA is the ruling party and is largely associated with the late Biafra leader, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Chidoka will face challenges nonetheless. He is from Obosi, Idemili North Local Government in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, the zone that produced Dr Chris Ngige in 2003 and Peter Obi who replaced him in 2006 and did eight complete years in office. There are strong campaigns for the Northern Senatorial Zone where Obiano, Nwoye and Obaze come from to complete their eight years before the seat returns to the Southern Senatorial Zone which had produced Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Chinweoke Mbadinuju who was in power between 1999 and 2003.
To this extent therefore, it is hard to see the governorship seat returning to the central zone. This will be a huge obstacle on Chidoka’s way.
Again, it is likely that the APGA crisis would be resolved in favour of Obiano in which case, the governor remains a clear favorite in spite of the APC and its strong federal backing. It would be safe, therefore, to conclude that while Chidoka is a strong contender, he may not have what it takes to stop the incumbent. His position might likely be second or third place.

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