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Anambra, Akunyili, Soludo and others

By Victor Akubueze
SINCE our country Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, my state, Anambra has been conceived and baptized in controversy.

The state is usually the butt of snide jokes and mockery in high places and pepper soup joints. From the painful experience arising from the shenanigans of overbearing godfathers culminating in wanton destruction of lives, property and the looting of public funds to the detriment of the masses, to the attempted abduction of a sitting governor and outright imposition of politicians who never won elections, I had thought that our politicians would learn their lessons. How wrong I was!

Anambra reminds me of the popular truism that man does not learn from his story (history). If the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gladiators had been guided by  the past, they would have shown honesty of purpose in the way they conducted themselves during and after the last governorship election which held precisely on February 6, this year.

Aside their inability to conduct a primary election or present a consensus candidate for the poll, Professor Charles Soludo, the man who was imposed on his colleagues as the party’s standard bearer for the poll by the PDP apparatchik failed woefully to manage his nomination. All the former Central Bank supremo, in my estimation did was strut around the homes of PDP garrison commanders in Abuja and Uromi with exaggerated swagger soliciting their endorsement.

The resultant effect of this ‘‘Soludian savage’’ was that the Soludo Campaign  Organisation was not all inclusive. Though some of the aspirants claimed to have coalesced into his tenuous structure but they reportedly made that declaration for a price.

Though the election was fraught with administrative lapses owing to INEC’s inefficiency, a winner emerged. What is expected of the largest political party in South Sahara is for all hands to be on deck, congratulate Mr Peter Obi who emerged winner or challenge his election in court if the party has incontrovertible evidence to show that the election did not comply with the Electoral Act 2006.

While that was going on, PDP was expected to be preparing for the local government polls in Anambra State as well as the forth coming presidential and House of Assembly Elections.

All these did not happen. Rather, what I saw was a Soludo who congratulated Obi for a well deserved victory making a U-turn after his Action Congress (AC) counterpart, Dr. Chris Ngige, rejected the election results. I know that most ‘‘professional’’ politicians are like dogs who go back to their vomit but little did I know that technocrats in politics do so as well. No wonder, politics they say is dirty.

Then enter Professor Dora Akunyili, Minister of Information and Communications and the highest political office holder from Anambra State. Dora had carved a niche for herself in NAFDAC as a regulator and an enforcer of inestimable value. A close watch of this woman’s politics, especially at the Federal Executive Council shows clearly that she knows when and where to strike.

One evening, precisely on February 14, I was watching NTA network news and heard the Minister call for Anambra stakeholders meeting at the Kano Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja the next day.

Kano Hall was filled to capacity with many of the movers and shakers of Anambra politics in attendance.   Basking in the success recorded at the Transcorp meeting, the ebullient Minister convened an enlarged meeting, 12 days after at the Emmaus  House, Awka to consolidate the peace initiative. Perhaps the only important personalities conspicuously absent at the two parleys were former Vice President, Chief Alex Ekwueme, Soludo, and the controversial godfather, Chief Chris Uba.

The elated Akunyili opened the meetings by suing for peace and true reconciliation among all factions of the party in the state. According to her: “We are here to brainstorm and chart a way forward for our party so that together we can build a strong party structure which will guarantee success in the upcoming local government elections and 2011 general elections”.

The Minister went further to disabuse the minds of critics who either believe the party’s constitution does not empower her to broker a truce or attach ulterior motive to her initiative.  “Some have called me to ask: ‘What do you have to gain by trying to foster peace in Anambra PDP since you are not running for any elective office in the state?’ I always answered back by asking a rhetoric question: ‘When has it become our culture to mediate in crisis situations only when we have something to gain as a person?'”

This brings me to the advertorial published in some national dailies castigating Akunyili for convening the meetings. The piece was signed by one Hon. Chinedu Okoye. He said the Minister is not the right person to call for such truce. He believes such a meeting should have been summoned by the party’s elders or Board of Trustees Members of Anambra descent.

If a snake surfaces in a home, the interest of all and sundry is to kill it and not who kills it. Since nobody empowered by the PDP constitution brokered truce, the Minister who did shouldn’t be crucified for doing the right thing. Okoye should not look at the messenger but the message.

Secondly, Okoye insinuated that Akunyili’s loyalty was suspect because according to him, the Minister who claimed to be loyal to President Umaru Yar’Adua suddenly stabbed him on the back with her controversial memo to the Executive Council of the Federation asking Mr. President to transmit a letter to the National Assembly empowering Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President. How does this amount to betrayal.

She swore to be loyal to the nation and not to the president even if the memo presupposes disloyalty. Now that the National Assembly had on its own volition proclaimed Jonathan Acting President, hasn’t Akunyili been vindicated. Nigerians want more of Akunyili in the polity!

Mr. Akubueze, a commentator on national issues, writes Onitsha, Anambra State.


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