August 14, 2013

ANAMBRA 2013: The game takes shape

Soludo, Ogene, Odenigbo, Uzoh, Mrs. Ekwunife , Okonkwo, Ndubuisi and Ifeanyi Uba

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

Many stakeholders, including his enemies admit that Governor Peter Obi has done much to reinvent the oddities that once shadowed governance in Anambra State.

The phenomenon of godfathers, bad governance and decrepit infrastructure that was the story of Anambra has mostly been eviscerated under Obi.

However, not totally. One area where Governor Obi has not been able to firmly plant his touch is the system of politics that originally gave Anambra a bad name.

So in his final days as governor of Anambra State it is not surprising that the culture of intrigues and bad politicking that have been the hallmark of politics in Anambra State remains unending.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which has not had a recognized executive for more than 10 years few days to its gubernatorial primaries was still engulfed in a crisis of identity. The PDP state executive recognized by the national secretariat of the party with Ken Emeakayi was denied recognition by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which in a letter said it only recognizes Ejike Oguebego as state chairman.

The party, which presently parades as many as 14 aspirants cleared to contest the August 24 primaries, it is feared, could also fall into the perennial crises that have bedeviled the party after every gubernatorial primary; to wit the exit of failed aspirants to other parties.

Among the aspirants cleared by the party to contest the primary are Senators Andy Uba and Emma Anosike; Iyom Josephine Anenih; Dr. Obinna Uzoh; Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu; Barrister Mike Oloye; Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo; Chief Ugochukwu Okeke; Amb. Jerry Ugokwe; Patrick Nduka Ugbomo; Agape Ifunanyachukwu Dike- Kramer; Dr. Alex Obiogbolu; Charles Odunukwe; and Walter Ubaka Okeke.

Virtually all of them have in the past contested the gubernatorial primary and at the end resorted to other parties to actualize their ambitions at the general election. The Emekayi executive had last month reached an agreement with the aspirants to abide by the results of the primary and for the losers to support the winner. However, given the desperate ambitions of most of the aspirants, only few expect any of them to abide by the agreement.

Soludo, Ogene, Odenigbo, Uzoh, Mrs. Ekwunife , Okonkwo, Ndubuisi and Ifeanyi Uba

The ward congresses organized by the PDP on Monday further reinforced the impression that Anambra PDP has not left its bad ways. The congresses were marred with plots resulting in many party members not seeing the ballot.

The congresses to pick three delegates from each of the 326 wards in the state according to some sources, were hijacked by some party godfathers who according to custom wrote down the names of their preferred delegates.

Not even Obi’s All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA  is left out in the intrigues. Obi who had allegedly been sponsoring a faction of the party to wrest control from the national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh was forced to reconcile with Umeh last month, leaving most of those who had been following him in the dust.

Obi who is not eligible to contest again having won twice is believed to be supportive of handing over to somebody from Anambra North Senatorial district, the only section of the state yet to produce a governor for the state.

Despite his support for Anambra North, Obi is not openly showing his inclinations on who he will want as a successor.

It had been assumed that Obi who has till now aligned with the PDP on national issues including the official position on the crisis affecting the Nigerian Governors Forum, would decamp to the party prior to the election. He has, however, lately shown a knack to sustain his legacy and it is not surprising that a couple of aspirants on the platform of APGA are said to be Obi’s men.

14 aspirants originally indicated interest to contest to succeed Obi on the platform of the party. The 14 include former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, former Minister of Transport, Prince John Emeka, former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Paul Odenigbo, a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Emeka Nwogbo, another member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Uche Ekwunife; the incumbent Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Oseloka Obaze and lately, Mr. Willy Obiano, who left his position as an Executive Director of Fidelity Bank to fight for the position.

Nomination process
Obi had initially been suspected of supporting the former government scribe and later, the incumbent before the advent of Obiano. Obi is, however, not expected to make the choice of the APGA candidate alone as Umeh, the national party chairman would be a decisive factor, given the fact that Umeh controls the nomination process.

Soludo who quit the PDP to join APGA, some allege, is being backed by Umeh for the position and some allege that was one of the agreements reached between Umeh and Obi when they reconciled at the end of last month.

However, given Obi’s increasing deployment of political craft, it is still difficult for many to see Obi support a rich and independent minded man like Soludo as his successor.

The choice of the party is expected to be made this weekend at the gubernatorial primaries.

The newly registered All Progressives Congress, APC is expected to make its decision between former governor of the state, Senator Chris Ngige and his immediate predecessor as senator representing Anambra Central, Senator Annie Okonkwo.

Many in the hierarchy of the APC are said to be in favour of Ngige given his fame and success as a former governor and are hoping to use the Anambra election a leeway for the newly registered party into the Southeast.

Labour Party which was the platform used by Senator Andy Uba for his 2010 gubernatorial campaign has virtually submitted its nomination to the controversial moneybag, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah.