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A premeditated fraud

By Ochereome Nnanna

BEFORE a fraudulent act succeeds two conditions must be met. The first is that the prey must be desperately in need and willing do anything to meet that need.

The second is that a smart predator has to be in the vicinity to spot the desperado. When a person is desperate, his sense of reasoning is beclouded and he begins to think only of the profit and not the possibility of a loss. He loses his power of self-restraint.

He is no longer able to ask questions such as: if this man can double my money why is he still so wretched? Why does he not start by doing himself that favour? What have I done to deserve his beneficence? Why is he so anxious for me to hand over my money to him?

When the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blew the whistle for the start of the processes for the election of the next governor of Anambra State, Nigerians were shocked at the number of aspirants that showed up at the doorstep of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Wuse, Abuja: 54 in all.

It is unprecedented in the history of this country that a state which in August 2009 earned a paltry 2.3 billion Naira from the federation account had that number of people vying under one party platform to occupy its gubernatorial post.

One wondered what would have happened if Anambra were like the oil giants (Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa), which control up to four times or more the size of Anambra’s budget? Perhaps every family would have presented a candidate!

The ruling party’s chiefs looked into the eyes of these aspirants and saw naked hunger in the men and women who had come to pick up nomination forms. It then slammed a non-refundable fee of five million Naira for each form and all 54 aspirants paid up.

The Party later explained that it hiked the nomination fee to whittle down the number of aspirants.

The fact is that even if the Party had named one hundred million Naira as the nomination fee, up to twenty of those Anambrarians would have paid up, even though majority would be proxies of other candidates and their political godfathers.

There was no way money was going to stand in the way of these determined aspirants because Anambra is blest with more than its fair share of multi-millionaires. They dominate markets all over Nigeria and beyond. They own most of the private hotels in Abuja and almost half of the privately owned landed property there.

Usually, when the Anambra man conquers money, he turns his attention to politics, particularly the office of the governor. He wants to go there next or send someone there.

Having failed to reduce the number of aspirants through the jumbo fees and the screening process, the PDP decided to send Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and a horde of other members of its national leadership to conduct a congress that had absolutely no chance of producing a genuinely democratic outcome.

In the first place, PDP had already publicly made up its mind that former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Professor Charles Soludo, would fly its flag for the election of February 2010. He was welcomed into the party in a big way by the who-is-who of PDP and his hand was raised by the Party’s “oracle”, Chief Tony Anenih.

Any wise person would have taken the hint because historically, once the PDP decides on a choice of candidate, the ensuing processes are tailored to enable him emerge. PDP even decided to forgo the governorship race in Imo State in 2007 because Ifeanyi Ararume emerged in spite of its choice, Engineer Charles Ugwuh, who could not stand for the Party due to judicial intervention.

The Party then threw its weight behind the candidate of the Progressive People’s Alliance, Sir Ikedi Ohakim. Only the courts can force the PDP not to have its way as they did in the case of Chibuike Amaechi in Rivers State.

Under the laws of Nigeria as interpreted by the courts, political parties have the right to choose candidates to stand for elections on their behalf. This they can do either by primaries, consensus or selection.

Having decided to select Soludo, why did the PDP proceed to milk more than 250 million Naira from the pockets of desperate members of their party in Anambra State?

That is obtaining through false pretence, alias 419. All the court injunctions precluding the party from organising “any” primaries from an Ekwulobia-based High Court were part of the party’s plans to ensure that Soludo’s selection would sail through.

Personally, I have no problem with Soludo as a candidate for governor of Anambra State. None of the 46 others matches his credentials and track record of public service.

He may be having issues over his poor supervision of the banking sector after the successful consolidation exercise, but he has a right to move on, and the leadership of the PDP saw his selection as the only way of escaping the sharks and godfathers who had already bought the governorship even before the race started.

There was no peaceful and democratic way of choosing from the 47 aspirants. A primary election that had been purchased before hand could never yield a democratic outcome.

We would only have another Chris Ngige before he betrayed his godfathers.
PDP did well to take the bull by the horn. But it did so by defrauding the hungry aspirants, and that can never be excused.

PDP cannot eat its cake and have it. Having looted Anambra, it has no right to expect the Anambra electorate to reward it with their mandate in 2010.


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