By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) across the nation are hoping that their party which was just months ago on the brink of self-destruction would use the forthcoming Anambra State election to prove not just the fallibility of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, but the capacity of the PDP to regain power at the federal level.
To prove that, the party must prove that it has learnt its lessons and is ready to put aside its inglorious reputation for political mischief and misbehaviour.
However, choosing Anambra State as the pointer to good behaviour was undoubtedly a testy matter. Especially given the notorious reputation built by the party over the last 14 years with factions answerable to different political godfathers in the state.
However, the legitimisation of the Ahmed Makarfi led executive, and the consequent delegitimisation of all the various factions in the state may have given a new lease of life to the former ruling party in the state.
That assurance was helped with the establishment of a state caretaker committee led by Prof. ABC Nwosu with Mrs. Josephine Anenih as secretary and some of the state’s leading politicians including Senator Joy Emodi as members.
However, optimism of the committee piloting the PDP to a new lease of life is being tested by the contest to produce the party’s governorship candidate with some of the stakeholders muttering that not all the bad habits of the past have been put away.
The ward election to produce delegates for the primaries was especially marred with irregularities in some of the areas of the state as prospective delegates who paid N5,000 for the form to contest were left with the short end of the stick as in some cases, the returning officers did not show up in the wards as they allegedly wrote their results in secluded sections of the state.
Nonetheless, the hope of party members is on one of the seven governorship aspirants cleared to contest the primary election.
The seven are Senator Stella Oduah, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, Miss Lynda Ikpeazu, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Prince Okechukwu Emeka, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah and Mr. Akolisa Ufodike.
All but two of the seven aspirants come from the North, the area of the state that is for the first time presenting a governor of the state in the person of Chief Willie Obiano.
The permutation of many stakeholders is that only somebody from the North should be produced as the candidate of the party in order not to face a revulsion from party members in the North who would see candidates from the South or Central as coming to short-change the zone of its term.
Five of the aspirants are from the North giving fillip to the desire of the area to sustain its hold on the governorship.
Of the five, Senator Oduah may have been seen as the most formidable, given what some claim as her deep pockets, but it is felt that her heart is not in the race and that she may not have given the contest the verve and velocity as she is wont.
Senator Oduah is from Ogbaru, the same senatorial district as another major aspirant, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, widely reputed as a protégée of the popular immediate past governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi.
Few in the state doubt that Obaze is Obi’s man, but there are, however, reports that Obi has also expressed sympathy for Obiogbolu who has been appraised as the most consistent of all the aspirants in the party.
Obaze served as secretary to the Government in the Obi administration and in the same capacity in the Obiano administration before he walked out on the incumbent governor.
Rep. Ikpeazu is the second woman in the contest. Her late entry into the contest surprised many, and she was immediately helped by her favourable name recognition being a scion of one of Onitsha’s leading families. Whatever, analysts are positing that her late entry may not have helped her, but the jury is still out on her prospects.
The former minister of aviation, Prince Emeka is another candidate with strong name recognition in the contest. It is, however, feared that his past political fights could come to hurt him. Emeka would be remembered for fighting the wife of the late President of the Senate, Senator Chuba Okadigbo to the Supreme Court over the occupancy of the Anambra North Senate seat up to 2012.
Though Emeka had every right to fight for the seat, the fear in some quarters is that the scars of that battle could come up against him in the ensuing contest.
Dr. Obiogbolu’s major asset in the contest is that he has been consistent in the party a fact that led former Councillorship candidates of the party to endorse him this week.
Another advantage the medical doctor turned businessman is bringing to the contest is that unlike virtually all the other aspirants he has remained almost consistent in Anambra State, a development that has endeared him to several stakeholders who have endorsed him.
However, Dr. Obiogbolu according to some does not have the kind of deep pockets to run a governorship election, a claim his associates have sought to debunk by saying that when they get to the bridge, they will cross it. They also affirm that it is the party that fights general elections and not individuals.
The two aspirants from the South are Chief Ifeanyi Ubah and Mr. Akolisa Ufodike who was initially disqualified but subsequently restored to the contest.
Ufodike is not largely known in the state, but the prospects of Ubah are, however, unpredictable. Many party stakeholders are tempted to dismiss him, if not, then for his inconsistent political adventures having crisscrossed the PDP, Labour Party, and the APC for political anchor. Many party members are yet to get used to him as a party member. However, Saturday Vanguard gathered that some high-level party chieftains might back him for sentimental reasons.