By Vincent Ujumadu

THE incumbent governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, has been nominated the flag bearer of All progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, for the November 18, 2017 governorship election in the state in which he is seeking reelection. Though he was the sole aspirant before emerging as the candidate of the party during the primary of APGA on August 15 at the Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Center, Awka, his nomination was, however, not without political intrigues and power play.

Chief Willie Obiano

At the special congress, all the 1092 delegates from the 326 wards, the 21 local government areas, state party officials and national officers from the state, still cast their votes to fulfill the requirements of the Electoral Act. At the end of the counting, 1070 voted yes, while 11 delegates voted no. There were 11 invalid votes, while five delegates did not vote. Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, monitored the exercise.

Before the primary, the party had set out the guidelines and timetable for the exercise by calling on those interested in becoming governor on the platform of APGA to purchase nomination forms, and at the end of the period set out for it, only Governor Obiano picked the forms and returned them to the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.

By the time the nomination exercise was taking place in Awka, a three -man Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu was delivering judgment in the suit filed by the national chairman of the party, Chief Victor Oye, challenging the declaration of Chief Martin Agbaso as the national chairman of APGA by an Enugu High Court presided by Justice Ozoemenam. Agbaso had obtained an order of Mandamus from the High Court to prevent Oye from acting as the national chairman of APGA and even went ahead to suspend him and two other members of the National Working Committee.

Many viewed the development as an attempt by Obiano’s political opponents to deny him the governorship ticket of the party, using Agbaso. In what appeared to be a confusing situation, some APGA members were said to be coercing Obiano to beg the Agbaso group for accommodation, for the fear that the Order of Mandamus might not be vacated before the November 18 election. However, he stuck to Oye on the ground that Agbaso had no locus to lay claim to the leadership of APGA since he had earlier defected from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, where he contested for the governorship ticket of the party in Imo State for the 2015 election.

As the date for the APGA primary was drawing near, the Agbaso group hurriedly organized a special convention to ratify him as the national chairman and was getting set to conduct a primary for the Anambra election before a court injunction stopped him. He also even took possession of the national secretariat of APGA in Abuja until Oye and members of the party’s leadership drove him out.

Worse was to come Agbaso’s way when, a day after Obiano was nominated the candidate of APGA, the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal gave   its judgment in favour of  the mainstream APGA headed by Oye, by sacking Agbaso and vacating the Order of Mandamus given by an Enugu High Court. The Court of Appeal also declared Oye as the national chairman.

The jubilation that followed in Anambra State after the APGA primary and the Court of Appeal judgment in Enugu was therefore understandable. First was that the distraction by Agbaso, which many said, was standing in the way of Obiano’s reelection, had been brushed aside. In the usual Anambra politics in which many politicians in the state thrive under political party factionalism, the resolution of the APGA crisis had ended their plan to continue to milk Obiano and Oye on one hand, as well as Agbaso on the other.

It was even suspected that what happened in APGA was masterminded by people outside the party, who felt that the only way to stop Obiano from winning the second term was to throw confusion in APGA.

Former national chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, who is the director general of the Obiaano reelection campaign organization and who, even when some members of APGA were becoming frustrated over the leadership tussle between Oye and Agbaso, was among the few who were very optimistic that Agbaso’s ambition would fall like pack of cards.

According to him, Agbaso was not a member of APGA at the time a court in Enugu declared him the acting national chairman of the party and wondered the basis on which he would take over the machinery of APGA in the country.

“APGA is a disciplined party and cannot condone impunity which Agbaso wanted to introduce in the party,” Umeh said.

With the primary over, Obiano is already looking forward to a robust campaign. He has already announced the retention of his deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke as his running mate and campaign vehicles of APGA had also flooded all the local government areas of the state. The confidence, which was almost departing from APGA supporters and members during the Agbaso imbroglio, is back.

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