Viewpoint

August 25, 2013

Anambra 2014: Can Tukur save PDP

ON April 14, 2007, Andy Uba won the Anambra State governorship election. It was a landslide victory for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

But on June 14, same year, barely two weeks after he was sworn in, Uba, in one of the most controversial Supreme Court judgements, was asked to vacate his office. Not because he didn’t win the election. And he was not impeached. The final court ruled that Governor’s Obi’s tenure had not lapsed and that the Independent National Election Tribunal, INEC, was wrong to conduct the election.

Uba licked his wounds; digested his tragic fate and accepted the judgement even though he did not seem to agree with it.

When Anambra was up again for election in 2010, many thought that PDP would at least be kind to Uba considering the circumstances under which he lost his mandate.

To be sure, every governor that his election  was annulled in PDP states was given a chance to recontest as decided by the 175th NWC meeting of  April 24, 2008 held in Abuja which resolved that ” all Party members are reminded that no court ruling has nullified the governorship candidates of PDP Flag bearers ” and directed ” there is therefore no need to substitute candidates ” .

Surprisingly, the NWC decision, availed all other 2007 flag bearers including Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and then Edo State governor, Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor, removed by court pronouncements, but denied Dr. Andy Uba, the PDP flag bearer in Anambra State, when the election became due in 2010.

Andy Uba was given no chance to re-contest, to seek a return to an office he was compelled to vacate for no fault of his. The then Chairman of PDP, Vincent Ogbulafor acted like one who had scores to settle with the reticent former presidential assistant while the PDP leadership watched in either an attitude of passivity or cold complicity.

The primary election that year was a charade. And before the dust could clear, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, a former Central Bank Governor, a respected scholar but a political neophyte, without structure and without political history was imposed on Anambra PDP as their candidate.

Other PDP aspirants felt that their party had put justice on the gallows and so left for other platforms to reinvigorate their aspirations and to seek their actualization. PDP votes in Anambra had consequently been bulkanised. It was a fatal self injury. And expectedly Soludo brought no solution or healing. PDP lost Anambra State for a second time.

The question is, has PDP now learnt its lesson? Are they ready to allow Justice to prevail as it gets ready to organise its primary election? The signs appear ominous. History seems about to repeat itself. But this political tragedy can be avoided. Let us look at the unfolding drama.

 PDP vs INEC

This time, PDP’s battle may not exactly be against a member. INEC is the object of its battle cry. The reason? The Chairman of Anambra State PDP recognised by INEC is not acceptable to PDP Acting National Working Committee and its chairman, Dr Bamanga Tukur . And Tukur has told anyone that cared to listen that it is not the mandate of INEC to recognise or impose a chairman on PDP. But therein lies the irony.

To begin with, that PDP today is working under an Acting NWC was simply due to INEC’s report which pointed out some defects in PDP’s last convention in terms of strict adherence to the party’s constitution. As a consequence of INEC’s observation and indeed report, the affected members of NWC were pressurized to resign while a mini-convention has been scheduled for August 31, 2013.

The purpose is to ensure that the convention is organised in absolute conformity with the party’s constitution and so to say, to correct the defects contained in INEC’s report. In fact, the PDP chairman, Tukur had gallantly asserted that the INEC report had validated his own election as chairman. He also accepted, pronto, INEC’s report that adjudged Adamawa State congress as illegal.

The stinging question now is, why is Anambra’s case different? At what point did Tukur realise that INEC’s report is no longer binding or is untenable? Why should INEC report be a testament to the authenticity of his election as Chairman while the same INEC report should be regarded as inconsequential and of no effect in Anambra State? Why should INEC report be valid in Adamawa, his home state and invalid in Anambra State? Is justice about to be put in the purgatory once again? One does not think so because we know Dr  Tukur to be an honourable man. But he must stand up for justice and so make a hard but right decision.

What PDP must do

Dr Tukur is a man who speaks with profound candour and conviction. His integrity has never been in contention. May be, just may be, he needs to understand the core political scenario in Anambra State PDP to appreciate why he needs to change his  posture against INEC.

The caustic truth Tukur needs to appreciate is that the whole idea of pushing the name of Ken Emeakayi as Anambra State PDP chairman fractures the principle of logic, justice and importantly, is in crass violation of the PDP constitution. For a lucid understanding of the situation, it must be understood that Emeakayi’s claim to headship of PDP in Anambra State remains vague and illegitimate, as it were.

Once the state congress was conducted on March 17, 2012 and Ejike Ogbuebego was elected as substantive chairman, Emeakayi’s claim automatically came to an end. This is the letter and spirit of PDP constitution and it remains inviolable.

That Emeakayi ran to the court on December 18, 2012 to obtain exparte order to restrain INEC from recognising no one but himself changes absolutely nothing. In the first instance, the order was obtained nine months after the PDP congress and it couldn’t have been retroactive and therefore cannot displace a duly elected chairman. But he would now cause Anambra PDP to embark on judicial odyssey to seek authenticity as a rash of court orders and judgements over leadership followed. While a Federal Capital Territory High Court judgement of July 5, 2012 between Emma Mbamalu and PDP declared null and void the ward, local government and state congresses that produced Ogbuebego as chairman, of which an appeal exits, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt in a suit No. FHC/PH/CS/213/2013 between Ejike Ogbuebego & 2 Ors vs PDP and INEC also restrained INEC from having anything to do with Emeakayi.

If Anambra PDP has to be rescued from this cacophony of judgements, INEC has to be the messiah as the court appears to have been drawn into this complex and intricate political web and their judgements seem to contradict one another and so seemingly ineffectual.

Since INEC was not a party to the  suit at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory  that nullified the election of the substantive chairman, Ejike Ogbuebego, the PDP Chairman, Alhaji Tukur should see a leeway in there to permanently resolve the Anambra PDP crisis as INEC is not bound by that judgement.

And since INEC itself has affirmed emphatically that it did not monitor the process that ushered in Emeakayi as chairman of PDP in Anambra State, the only way to assure justice is to recognise Ogbuebego as the authentic chairman which indeed he is.

Besides, Dr. Tukur and INEC had been according recognition to Ogbuebego since his election. In May 2013, Dr Tukur forwarded Ogbuebego’s name to INEC as the chairman of PDP in Anambra State and INEC duly recognised him.

There will be no justifiable reason now to throw up any name or person as chairman. It just wouldn’t fly. It can only complicate the Anambra political conundrum and castrate its potentials.

Dr Tukur, surely, is a man of honour. And the honourable way to go now is to accept and recognise Ogbuebego as the Anambra State PDP Chairman. He needs to do this before the Anambra PDP governorship primary election on August 24, 2013.

 

*Mr. ZIK ZULU, a political analyst, wrote from Lagos.