By okey Ndiribe
IF the ward congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State which held Monday, September 28 were characterized by violence and confusion as numerous thugsÂ freely used guns and other paraphernalia of violence to snatch ballot boxes and scare voters, it would not require much imagination to realize that the state congress scheduled for Friday, October 2, would have ended up in a terrible fiasco if the Anambra High Court had not stopped it.
In other words, the partyâ€™s flag-bearer in the gubernatorial election holding next February 6 may not emerge.
The current chaos in the process of deciding the party nominee is not altogether surprising. Not even to the party national leadership.
It was in an attempt to forestall the imminent crisis that the National Chairman, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, summoned a meeting of all the 48 aspirants on Wednesday, September 16, at the party headquarters in Abuja to agree on a consensus candidate. The meeting was a grand failure, as predicted by thoughtful observers. A number of the aspirants have unbelievably huge ego, and are engaged in a war of mutual annihilation.
The situation is far worse than what obtained in the Imo State branch of the PDP in 2006 and 2007 when leading aspirants to the office of governor on the PDP platform resorted toÂ fight to finish. The leading gladiators were Ifeanyi Ararume, then the senator representing Okigwe; Festus Odimegwu, former chief executive of Nigerian Breweries; Tony Ezenna, the eminently successful chairman of Orange Drugs company; and Charles Ugwu, who just completed a successful tenure as president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.
The result of all this was that the PDP, the ruling party in the state since 1999 when democracy was restored in Nigeria, could not present a gubernatorial candidate in the 2007 general election. Thus, the governorship election became a straight fight between the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Martin Agbaso, and his counterpart in the Progressive Party Alliance (PPA), Ikedi Ohakim. â€œThe PDP, said a notable political analyst, â€œ snatched defeat from the jaws of victoryâ€.
A repeat of the Imo experience is all but certain to occur in Anambra, where the PDP is in absolute control of the state legislature and the state representatives at the National Assembly. There is too much bad blood and desperation on the part of the aspirants, especially three former and current members of the National Assembly.
But the greater magic is the list of â€œsuccessfulâ€ delegates announced by the Ward Congress Organising committee. Among the â€œsuccessfulâ€ delegates were people who died long ago!
Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam, who headed the PDP committee on the ward congresses, has told the press that the party is truly inÂ shambles in the State.The only way the PDP can effectively participate in the February 6 gubernatorial election is for the national leadership to adopt a credible, knowledgeable and non-controversial candidate with name recognition who can stand a fair chance of winning the election.
After the relatively impressive administration of Dr Chris Ngige, the Anambra people certainly cannot settle for controversial and naturally violence-prone desperados.The earlier the party adopts a candidate the better for it. It will need time to heal wounds and embark on a process of reconciliation so that it could move into the election as a cohesive team, rather than as a fragmented, factitious group eager to devour its own.
It is good that AnambraÂ is in not in short supply of credible candidates for the forthcoming election. Apart from Dr Ngige and Governor Peter Obi who have been nominated by their parties, there are credible candidates like Chief Mike Ejezie of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), an articulate economist, accountant and chartered stockbroker.
As things are today, the PDP stands a good chance of losing Anambra . This may be in the countryâ€™s interest because it could help prevent Nigeria from becoming practically a one-party state.