By Ifeanyi Okoye
ON the first day of January 2009, Emeka Etiaba, a legal practitioner andÂ businessmanÂ with over 20 years experience in active legal practice took the political landscape in Anambra State by storm as he declared his intention to contest the 2010 governorship election under the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
Emekaâ€™s declaration was made even as the incumbent Governor had previously stated that he will not go for second term. Etiabaâ€™s declaration brought much needed life into APGA as upon his challenge, officers and members of their NWC began receiving attention, having previously been denied patronage and access to their only state Governor.
Emeka consulted widely within and outside APGA and Ikemba Nnewi, National leader of APGA, quickly endorsed his candidature just as he began contending with all manner of smear tactics though not unexpected by him. In Emekaâ€™s own words at his declaration: â€œI am ready to endure one year of blackmail to be able to take the Anambra State to the Next Levelâ€.
Last April while opening â€˜The Next Level Arenaâ€™, Ojukwu came personally with his jewel of inestimable value Iyom Bianca and praised Emekaâ€™s courage thus: â€œEmeka my namesake, wherever you go, I will follow you. Whenever you look around, you will see me. The one to rule Anambra State in 2010 is Emeka my namesake. I will personally lead you from this arena to Government House. I will be there when the primaries will hold and I will make sure that there will be no cheatingâ€.
Ojukwu knew that once a free and fair primary holds in APGA, Emeka will triumph but APGA hierarchy became wiser by frustrating the conduct of the partyâ€™s guber primaries. While Emeka was garnering support for his aspiration, the incumbent Governor changed his mindÂ in the month of March 2009 and declared his intention to run.
Emeka received his declaration with optimism; saying that it was good for democracy. But unknown to Etiaba, APGA was to foreclose the issue of primaries in the party. The National Chairman who from the onset opposed Emekaâ€™s aspiration, made it clear that the incumbent having worked hard will be given an automatic ticket irrespective of the feelings of any other party faithful. This is APGAâ€™s definition of internal democracy. This position negates INECâ€™s declaration that every candidate of a party must be a product of internal democracy.
APGA factional National Chairman now tells the whole world that INEC has undemocratically edged him out of APGA chairmanship battle. What a democrat who is suffering injustice at the hands of oppressive overlords but fails to understand that it is a fact of life that whatever a man sows, he reaps. You cannot sow injustice and reap justice.
In a bid to destroy Emekaâ€™s candidature, he was accused of illegally â€˜impeachingâ€™ the Governor in 2006 and â€˜foughtâ€™ against his comeback in 2007. APGA leadership made sure that party state machinery shut Etiaba perfectly out. This was enforced the day Emeka and his campaign organisation members visited the APGA state secretariat in Awka.
Emeka and his team were not only refused audience but had their gifts rejected, a first in the history of politics in Nigeria. This not withstanding, Emeka has continued to enjoy huge followership from APGA faithfuls, to the utter embarrassment of APGA hierarchy and has carried on a campaign of issues by contributing towards solving the current breakdown of law and order in the state through organising a hugely successful security summit at the Institute of International Affairs, to brainstorming with the Association for the Empowerment of the Disabled led by Mr. Cosmas Okoli, to discussing with the maritime practitioners of AnambraÂ extraction, discussions with Nollywood practitioners of Anambra extraction, Anambra womenâ€™s groupings, local government and towns union groups, amongst many others.
Emeka has opened his campaignâ€™s â€˜Next Levelâ€™ offices in all 21 local government areas of the State and in all major towns statewide. Several communities in the State have warmly embraced him and his â€˜Next Levelâ€™ team. Emekaâ€™s strongÂ desire for change is borne out of an urgent need to bring about a paradigm shift in the direction and vision for Anambra State.
For Emeka and indeed many Anambrarians, there is so much insecurity principally due to institutionslised unemployment in the State. Many investors who are residents andÂ indigenes of the State have left the State and words of foreign investors do not exist in our Stateâ€™s lexicon anymore. There is a near total collapse of educational, health and agricultural sectors. For Emeka to scratch these problems, he must win the election and for him to win the election, he must be nominated by a formidable political party and this is where my concern lies.
Hon. Okoye writesÂ from Nnewi, Anambra State.