By Vincent Ujumadu
AS predicted by some political analysts, the state congress for the selection of the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State for the 2010 election ran into a hitch and subsequently the primaries that could have led to the emergence of the partyâ€™s governorship candidate was suspended.
Just two days to the primaries, one Probity Adibe had obtained a court injunction from an Anambra High Court sitting at Ekwulobia in Aguata in suit number AG/92/MISC 440/09, joining PDP, the national chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Oladimeji Bankole who is chairman of the state congress committee as defendants.
In the order, which was made before Justice B.A. Nwankwo,Probity restrained the defendants, their servants, officers agents, privies or otherwise howsoever from convening any congress whatsoever on the 2nd of October, 2009 or any other date, preparatory to the nomination, selection or election of the PDP gubernatorial candidate for election into the office of governor of the State in 2010, pending the determination of the motion on notice filed herein.
Signs that the much publicized exercise might run into a hitch emerged when members of Speaker Bankole’sÂ Congress Committee, after sounding very optimistic before newsmen that the exercise would definitely take place, remained in their hotel rooms and when they eventually emerged, headed back to the Enugu airport while the delegates were still waiting at the Women Development Centre, Awka, venue of the congress.
Indeed, the night before the aborted congress was a beehive of activities in Awka with all the hotels fully booked for the delegates and officials expected to conduct the congress. While over 700 delegates out of the expected 987 were quartered at the popular Choice Hotel in the heart of Awka, allegedly by one of the chieftains of the party whose supporters emerged victorious at the ward congress held earlier, several other aspirants and stakeholders converged at Grand Rivera, another popular hotel, where they strategized on how to ensure that the exercise did not take place.
Before handing over to the congress committee, the chairman of the Ward Congress Appeal Committee, Alhaji Hassan Adamu, had announced that his committee received a total of 1,387 petitions and upheld 174 of them. According to him, only six out of the 47 governorship aspirants cleared to participate at the congress appeared before the committee, while there was no congress in two local government areas, namely, Awka North and Awka South, out of the 21 local governments in the state.
Also, he said, some wards in Nnewi South and Aguata did hold the congress, adding that altogether, there were complaints in 241 wards out of the 978. Accepting the report, Bankole said that PDP had absolutely decided to do the right thing.
Though he said that his committee would proceed with the state congress, he insisted that it must be within the ambits of the law and the rules of PDP. And apparently in line with his promise, Bankole did not conduct the exercise because it did not meet the requirements for the emergence of a credible candidate for PDP. It was also gathered that although an attempt was made by the legal team of PDP to vacate the court injunction, the presidency was said to have ordered that the committee should suspend the exercise in obedience to the court order, which was why the committee members left the state unceremoniously.
On the other hand, most of the delegates were disappointed that the exercise they prepared for could not hold. Indeed, some of the delegates had spoken of how they hoped to make their money by collecting from as many governorship aspirants as possible and eventually settling for one of them. According to one of the delegates, â€œthough I was on the line up of a particular aspirant, I knew the state congress was an opportunity for me to make money.
That was really why I decided to be a delegate because I knew that I could reach at some of the aspirants before the commencement of the actual voting. With the suspension, I donâ€™t know what will happen next.â€Â State publicity secretary of PDP, Mr. Afam Ilounoh, said though the delegates were prepared to elect the PDP governorship candidate, those he described as Abuja politicians who, according to him, were not on ground, did not want the congress to hold.
He noted that while some people were busy organizing and mobilizing the electorate to support PDP, some people who never even identified with their wards, chose to disrupt the exercise. According to him, PDP has worked hard to win the February 6, 2010 election and was sure of forming the next government in State, adding that any member of PDP who did not appreciate the efforts so made in this regard does not mean well for the party.
The worry of most supporters of PDP in the State is whether the party would still get its acts together before the deadline for the submission of candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). While the leadership of the party tries to resolve this logjam, it must be borne in mind that PDP in the State has succeeded again in rubbishing some notable personalities in the party who were sent here to resolve their lingering crisis.
Going down memory lane would reveal how PDP had, since 1999, dented the image of many people within and outside Anambra. It started during the tenure of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju when the governor could not be given the freedom to marshal out plans for the development of the State which has remained underdeveloped since its creation in 1991.
Mbadinujuâ€™s administration was undermined by undue interference of his godfathers who saw their contribution towards the emergence of the governor as an investment that must be recouped. As a result of consistent friction during that period, it was the state that suffered. And while all the PDP governors were given automatic ticket, Mbadinuju was dropped over alleged no-performance during his first tenure.
Since then, the former governor has been trying to integrate himself fully into the scheme of things in the party. But his godfather in politics, Sir Emeka Offor, despite the popularity he enjoyed during the tenure of Mbadinuju, has become a past tense in Anambra politics. Some of the major players during that period had also been thrown into the dust bin of history.
In 2003, Dr. Chris Ngige emerged the governor through the manipulation of the party. The then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was so involved in the Anambra political crisis that he had to invite both Ngige and his godfather, Chief Chris Uba to the state house in Abuja where they made the whole world know that PDP rigged the 2003 election.
Thereafter, Ngige was removed from office and he became another victim of PDP crisis in the state. Though he performed well, especially in road construction during the three years he was in office, PDP had discarded him. He has since found solace in another political party, the Action Congress (AC).
Then emerged Dr. Andy Uba in 2007 as the governor and barely two weeks in office, the Supreme Court removed him because the tenure of Governor Peter Obi had not ended. Since then, he has been trying to reclaim the 2007 mandate but PDP has ignored him. Rather than give him automatic ticket for the 2010 election because of what he has gone through, the party is busy spending millions to select another governorship candidate and the former presidential aide has been left to his fate.
Following the crisis that reared its head in the party in the state shortly after the 2007 elections, the national leadership of PDP set out to resolve it. First was the Chuma Nwofor congress committee sent to organize the congress in the state.
At a stage, the party leadership perhaps felt that since he is from State and was in fact a governorship aspirant in 2007, he might not be totally unbiased in the discharge of his duties. Without informing members of the Nwofor committee, the national leadership sent the Jim Nwobodo committee which after three days in the state, made recommendations.