—Former governor, Presidency dabble into APC contest
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
As the time for the formal commencement of campaigns for the Anambra State governorship election kicked off last Friday, the state is again living up to its reputation as a hotbed of political intrigues.
Before yesterday, only the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, of all the major political parties had conducted its governorship primaries for the election due on November 18. Even the primaries conducted by the Victor Oye leadership of APGA last Tuesday, Sunday Vanguard gathered, is to be subject of a possible plot tomorrow as the Martin Agbaso faction of the party meet in Abuja to consider their next plan following last Wednesday’s Appeal Court judgment that upheld the legitimacy of the Oye leadership.
The other parties, mainly the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have shifted the primaries as conspiracy plots within and outside the two parties swell up to delay the conduct of the primaries.
One of the smaller parties, the United Progressives Party, UPP, was still finding its bearing at press time yesterday after the boisterous contest between former chief executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Osita Chidoka, and a former member of the House of Representatives, Chudi Ofodile, turned into a solo contest after the latter withdrew yesterday morning.
By the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, all matters relating to selection of candidates including appeals are expected to be concluded by September 2, that is in less than two weeks.
The APC which has the highest number of aspirants, 12 in all, was expected to have conducted its primaries yesterday. However, the date was surreptitiously changed at the last minute following alleged interventions by big guns in the party from outside the state. A very senior presidency official Sunday Vanguard gathered working in cahoots with a former governor from the South with a prominent role in the present Federal Government were supposed to have brought pressure on the national leadership to postpone the primary election to allow enough time to push in the candidate said to be favoured by Abuja.
The twelve aspirants cleared to contest the primary election in the APC are Chukwuma Paul, Madu Nonso, Moghalu George, Nwibe Bart, Nwike Patrick, Nwoye Tony, Obidigbo Chike, Okonkwo D, Onunkwo Johnbosco, Uba Andy, Uchegbu Adaobi, and Uzoh Obinna .
Of the 12, Senator Uba, former presidential aide and Dr. Nwoye, a medical doctor cum businessman and politician are said to be major contenders to the displeasure of some concerned stakeholders. Some stakeholders according to sources are especially peeved that Senator Uba who joined the party about six months ago from the PDP was said to have pulled resources and men to put himself as a major contender.
Uba who went with 40 senators to pick the party’s nomination form at the APC headquarters according to sources is also being backed by Senator Bukola Saraki, the president of the Senate. Even more, it is also believed that he is also a friend of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, a development some sources said may have triggered Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, a powerful voice in the party to raise the red flag against him.
It could not be immediately confirmed if Amaechi is among those who pushed the party to defer the primaries but sources say that it would not be unlikely that he, Amaechi would be opposed to Uba given the fact that the latter is chummy with two of Amaechi’s estranged political friends, Saraki and Wike.
The development had inevitably frustrated Nwoye, who before Uba’s emergence was the clear leader and continues to hold sway in the face of the intrigues. Nwoye’s support Sunday Vanguard learnt is coming from the youths who see him as one of their own, having been a national president of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS about 13 years ago.
The intervention of the party bigwigs from Abuja Sunday Vanguard learnt is to help the aspiration of one of Chief Moghalu who party insiders see as having been more consistent in the party. Unlike Nwoye and Uba, Moghalu was a foundation member of the APC and has been its National Auditor since 2014.
However, party stakeholders fear that Moghalu who is from Nnewi in Anambra South may not fit in line with the interest of those who want a continuation of the rotation of the governorship among the three geopolitical zones.
Meanwhile, stakeholders in Anambra North which is occupying the office of governor for the first time since the creation of the state through Governor Willie Obiano are pushing that the APC should not zone the governorship away from Anambra North.
“The youths are in total support of zoning the office to their senatorial zone. We have deliberated on the pedigree of all the candidates in various political parties and arrived at the choice of Dr. Tony Nwoye on account of his grass root appeal, and commitment to the welfare of the people especially the youths, women, elderly poor,” Mr. Tony Okafor, leader of the Odinma Anambra North Youths Initiatives, ODIANYI, said at the end of a meeting of different youth groups from the senatorial district.
The Ngige factor
The APC is as such at its wits end on how to meet the pressure from Abuja in the face of realities on the ground. An earlier crisis over allegations that a major aspirant was bribing party officials to tamper with the list of delegates seems to have now been settled after all aspirants were reassured that the delegates would be the party officials who emerged in the 2014 congress of the party.
In the face of the crisis, party stakeholders are apprehensive that the chances of the party could be jeopardised if the primaries are not well handled. Meanwhile, speculations continue on the intentions of Senator Chris Ngige, the party leader in the state, after he ruled himself out of the contest. Conspiracy theorists are alleging that should the party in the face of the challenges fail to meet the deadline to submit a candidate that Ngige could be “forced” to enter the race!
In the PDP, the intrigues are no less. What was thought of to be a silent affair in the face of the recent spate of crises that rocked the party at the national and state levels is, however, increasingly turning into a raucous business.
At the beginning, only two major aspirants, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu and Mr. Oseloka Obaze seemed to have shown interest. Dr. Obiogbolu, a medical doctor, had played politics in Anambra and had remained almost consistent in the party despite its many travails. Obaze, on the other hand, is generally seen as the protégée of the immediate past governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, who he is said to be preparing to use in taking his pound of flesh from his handpicked successor, Obiano.
The others cleared to contest are Chief Ifeanyi Ubah; Senator Stella Oduah, Mr. John Emeka as well as former beauty queen turned lawmaker, Ms. Lynda Ikpeazu.
Senator Oduah’s involvement had remained a mystery especially given the fact that she had laid low since she lost her son about nine months ago. Her entry into the race Sunday Vanguard gathered was at the prompting of a member of the State’s Caretaker Committee, a decision to was said to have infuriated Chief Chris Uba who had accused the member of being bias.
However, Senator Oduah’s seriousness in the contest is still a matter of puzzle as some say that she is not very serious and is not giving the aspiration much energy and verve as she is wont to. The presence of Dr. Obiogbolu in the contest it was said complicates the matter for her as he was her campaign manager for her Senate contest in 2014/15.
Some allege that Oduah who is from Ogbaru just like Obaze could play a spoiler role for Obaze and Obi as she would help to divide the votes from the area to the advantage of Obiogbolu.
Senator Oduah others allege also has the gender challenge.
“Anambra is not ready for a woman governor,” a stakeholder told Sunday Vanguard yesterday.
“Don’t forget that Joy Emodi, a more experienced politician also faced the same bias many years ago,” the source said.
However, no one is ruling out the aspiration of Chief Ubah. Despite claims in some quarters of his several political journeys across parties, Sunday Vanguard confirmed that some entrenched party leaders had given him their backing mostly for sentimental reasons. However, he like some others has the disadvantage of coming from Anambra South.