By Kelechi Bath Nnamdi
THEÂ protracted crisis facing the Anambra chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is caused by the Uba family, especially after the nullification of the election of Dr. Andy Uba.
The court ruling was specific in saying that the four-year tenure of the governor of the State, Mr. Peter Obi, had not expired. By implication, there was no vacancy in the position which Andy Uba was â€œelectedâ€ to occupy.
While everyone else has since accepted the court ruling, Dr. Uba and his supporters have continued to work surreptitiously, hoping this loyalist of former President Olusegun Obasanjo would return as Governor of Anambra State.
Their argument has beenÂ that since his election in 2007 was not voided by any court of law, he should either take over from Peter Obi on the expiration of the latterâ€™s tenure on March 7, 2010, or he should be given automatic ticket (without primaries) to contest the gubernatorial election on the platform of the PDP. Of course, none of these crafty and undemocratic moves was acceptable to the party.
As the hopes of Andy Uba ever returning to Government House dwindle, his younger brother, Chief Chris Uba, is determined to make sure that either Anambra PDP accepts him as the next governor or the party loses that position to the opposition, as was the case in Imo State in 2007.
The alternative blackmail is for the State to exist without a governor if things fail to go the way of the Ubas. Andy and Chris are known to have an acrimonious relationship and do not see eye-to-eye. Yet, they are together in believing that the governorship of Anambra State is their family birthright and that the office is theirs to keep or sell to the highest bidder.
In preparation for the scheduled gubernatorial election ofÂ February 6, 2010, the PDP held its ward congresses on Monday September 28, in 21 local government areas of Anambra State. The exercise was marred by widespread irregularities, violence, thuggery, rigging and snatching of ballot boxes and election materials.
Indeed, it was reported that the controversial elections took place only in 10 per cent of the 326 electoral wards in the politically volatile State. In 16 local governments, voting did not take place as delegates and voters were scared away by rampaging thugs shooting sporadically into the air (Sunday Sun, October 4, 2009, p.9).
That is why the PDP-dominated members of the Anambra State House of Assembly and the Anambra North Peoples Assembly (ANPA) had to join those calling for the total cancellation of the ward congresses.
The congresses were also characterised by the falsification of results perpetrated by some individuals bent on putting the PDP in disarray. According to the Wakili Adamawa, Ambassador Hassan Adamu, who is the Chairman, Anambra Congress Appeal Committee, the â€œCommittee received a total of 1387 petitions out of which 174 were upheldâ€(Sunday Vanguard of October 4, 2009).
It was, indeed, a shameful rape of democracy in the State. The five-member panel, set up for the congresses and headed by the Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, admitted that the congresses were not totally free and fair. In fact, the allegation was that the list submitted by Governor Suswam was compiled personally by Chris Uba, the self-styled Mafioso godfather of this unfortunate State. Chris Uba was reported to have allegedly bought nomination forms for at least 10 of the gubernatorial aspirants. It bears remembering that each form costs N5 million.
It was on the basis of these clear irregularities that another gubernatorial aspirant, Mr. Probity Adibe, went to court to seek an injunction to stop â€œthe PDP, its National Chairman, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, and the electoral Panel Chairman, Speaker Dimeji Bankole, from holding the primariesâ€.
On September 30, an Anambra High Court ruled to stop the congress for the election of the PDP governorship candidate in Anambra State scheduled to take place on October 2. Now, Chris Uba is making frantic efforts to vacate that order so as to force his candidate(s) once more on the party. What a shame!
Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Chairman of the Congress Committee for the election of the PDP flag-bearer, deserves the commendation of all Nigerians for being forthright enough to discard the delegates list produced by the Suswam-led Ward Congress Committee and for demanding in its place the list of true winners in the field as authenticated by Ambassador Adamuâ€™s Appeal Committee. This is the kind of forthrightness that the NWC of the PDP should uphold and emulate.
President Umaru Musa Yar,Adua recently said that â€œthe Anambra governorship election would determine the success of the electoral reforms currently being put in place by his administrationâ€. Unfortunately, the situation as it played out does not reflect the Presidentâ€™s enthusiasm.
ToÂ a large extent, the PDP national leadership, particularly the National Working Committee (NWC) is to be held responsible for the protracted crisis in Anambra State. It is now public knowledge that with the Anambra crisis unresolved, the partyâ€™s top officials at the national secretariat are busy extorting money from the various aspirants. How unfortunate, that the once great PDP in Anambra State has sunk so low!
The party must be rescued from those who illegally enriched themselves with public funds and who now believe that they, alone, can determine who rules Anambra State. The search for solution to the Anambra crisis must start with concerted efforts to purge the (PDP) national leadership of all corrupt practices as well as officials who have perfected the art of turning every
alone, can determine who rules Anambra State. The search for solution to the Anambra crisis must start with concerted efforts to purge the PDP national leadership of all corrupt practices as well as officials who have perfected the art of turning every political crisis into a money-making business. It is, indeed, true that politics in Anambra State has become a â€œcash and carryâ€ affair.
Fortunately, Anambra State can boast of some of the best and brightest politicians and professionals, capable of providing the right leadership in the State. Among the aspirants for the governorship position, there are men and women of integrity and proven accomplishments who have served this nation creditably. Given the opportunity, such tested hands can change the current ugly image of Anambra as a state where anything goes, where the highest human ideals have become marketable commodities and where might is right.
A state that has produced the likes of Professor Charles Soludo, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),Â Professor A.B.C Nwosu, former Minister of Health, Professor Dora Akunyili, current Minister of Information and Communication and many others, ought to take political advantage of such rich human endowments. These are Nigerians any state of the federation should aspire to have as governor. To be frank, what the people of Anambra need most is a leadership that can restore honour, integrity and decorum to public service in the State.
The 47 aspirants contesting to be governor of Anambra State are easy to sort into two distinct camps: One comprising those who have had a decent upbringing, imbibed good family values, sound education, and who have made substantial contribution to our national development; on the other camp are those who have shot themselves to public reckoning through questionable means, thuggery and political rascality, all wrapped in the new materialist culture of impunity; who are street-wise and who rubbish decency and worship money.Â Soludo belongs to the first camp; unfortunately, the Ubas fall into the second.
A final piece of advice to the people of Anambra State is that they must stop political hawks from preying on them; they must not allow greed and money to determine their choice of who leads them, and they must rescue PDP in the State from the grips of money swindlers who are determined to manipulate the people and impose their own choice of leaders on them.
The Uba family must be persuaded to end this moral and physical assault on the psyche of Anambra people. The State is currently tottering on the precipice of total destruction, and for once in their lives, the Ubas must do a selfless thing by leaving the State alone.Â On our part, we must fight to free our people from political bondage and pull the State back from the edge.
* Mr. Nnamdi wrote this piece from Awka.