By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
ANAMBRA State is living up to its billing as a centre of political intrigues. Yesterday, Governor Willie Obiano and his political associates were at their wits’end after Justice Onuora, the Enugu State judge hearing the case instituted by Chief Victor Ike Oye, former national chairman of the governor’s party, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, to upturn his removal from office withdrew from the case.
Justice Onuora’s withdrawal followed his protest at alleged attempts by some extraneous forces to influence the case over the sustenance of Oye and his National Working Committee, NWC. Obiano’s fate as the governorship candidate of APGA is believably tied to Oye winning the case. Remarkably, hearing on the matter has been shifted to sometime in December, at a time that the Anambra governorship election would have been concluded.
So when the judge in open court expressed outrage that he did not fix the hearing for yesterday and alleged that external forces dragged him to court, he turned around and returned the case file to the Enugu State chief judge. Even more, the same yesterday, the new national chairman of the party, Chief Martin Agbaso, cautioned Obiano over his alleged inclination to Oye. Agbaso at a meeting with party stakeholders in Aba, Abia State warned that Obiano was risking the party’s chances in the Anambra governorship election with his continued support for Oye, who Agbaso claimed, cannot sign the APGA papers for his nomination as candidate.
Agbaso who spoke through the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prince Nnanna Ukaegbu, warned: “The prospects of APGA winning the forthcoming governorship have shot up. We can confidently tell you that November 18 election is a forgone issue in favour of APGA, but Oye is working to scuttle Obiano’s chances in the election.
Support for Oye
I assure you APGA will win, but we will soon hold primary to elect our candidate. We urge Governor Obiano to show leadership and see himself as the Chairman of the APGA Board of Trustees and stop taking side. The governor is alone in his support for Oye, all the leaders of the party are solidly with Agbaso.”
The Obiano camp, however, remains hopeful that the issues will be resolved well ahead of the party primaries expected anytime soon. An authoritative source close to the governor, nevertheless, pooh-poohs Agbaso’s claims as national chairman of the party. “How can Agbaso claim to be national chairman of the party that he is not a member of? How can?” the Obiano top aide seethed yesterday saying that Agbaso left the party and moved to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to contest that party’s governorship primaries before the 2015 general elections.
The intrigues are, however, not restricted to the ruling APGA. Indeed, the PDP which was the ruling party before the advent of the APGA hegemony is also having its dose of intrigues. It would at first hand seem that the crisis that engulfed the party at the national level may have been a blessing in disguise as it appeared to have lessened tension. The crisis, it appeared, has swayed Mr. Osita Chidoka out of the party to the United Progressives Party, UPP which was founded by Chief Chekwas Okorie.
In the void the only prominent party member seeking the PDP ticket is Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, a veteran party organiser who seems to be getting the support of the Modu Ali Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi led factions of the party. Obiogbolu also appears to be straddling between the two major factions of the party in the state led by Prince Ken Emeakayi and that led by Mr. Ejike Oguebego who is backed by Mr. Chris Uba.
However, it is believed that the peace being enjoyed by the party would sooner than later burst. Obiogbolu’s seeming solo run has lately been altered by the defection of Mr. Oseloka Obaze from APGA to the PDP. The situation is also not too different in the All Progressives Congress, APC where a couple of party faithful have increasingly entrenched themselves. Senator Chris Ngige had been reported to have opted out of the race. However, there are continuing insinuations that the former governor, senator and now minister (GSM) as he is called could be lured in.
His chances, however, should not be taken for granted given that a number of aspirants had over time entrenched themselves in the race. Among them are some of his former colleagues in the PDP, notably, Dr. Tony Nwoye and Senator Andy Uba. Nwoye who was the 2014 governorship candidate of the PDP and was reported to have fought a good fight despite the lack of support from President Goodluck Jonathan who is said to be one of the major forces to contend with. His allies are said to be pushing for democratic primaries in which they believe that their man can easily win so long as there is no serious interference.
Senator Uba who served as governor of the state for 17 days in 2007 is also said to be pulling weight having received the endorsement of some prominent Nigerians and influential members of the party. The entry of the two men is said to be a strong challenge to the aspiration of the APC’s National Auditor, Mr. George Moghalu, who is reckoned as one of the most consistent opposition politicians in the state.
Others said to be also interested and building machinery for the campaign include Engr. Barth Nwibe, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, Pat Iwunze, Obinna Uzoh, Paul Chukwuma and Dr. Obidigboh. Whatever, the aspirants on the platform of the APC and those who recently defected to the party will be put to task to defend the record of the party at the national level. It is a development that is bound to put whatever advantage the APC has at the federal level into question.