By Vincent Ujumadu
ONE of the greatest upsets of the recent primaries of the various political parties to select candidates for the 2019 general elections across the country was the defeat of Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, the wife of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu for the ticket of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, for Anambra South Senatorial zone.
When Bianca Ojukwu, who was Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Spain and a former beauty queen, indicated interest in the senatorial seat, most people were of the opinion that she would easily win the ticket, considering the fact that her late husband and the defunct Biafra warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, was the leader of APGA until his death.
Since the death of her husband, Bianca has been associating with APGA and participating in all its activities. During last year’s governorship election, there was hardly any major political rally she did not attend and she always made powerful speeches.
In fact, many political analysts were of the view that it was the influence of Ojukwu that made it possible for APGA to have the strong hold on Anambra State politics and they believe that one way to appreciate the late Ikemba’s contributions for the consistent excellent performance of APGA in the state, would be to allow his widow to take Ojukwu’s name to the Nigerian senate. Some even argued that if it were in other climes, Ojukwu’s wife would have been given automatic ticket for any political position she was interested in. That was why there was excitement in some quarters when she showed interest in the senate for Anambra South.
However, this was not to be as another contestant for the seat, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu from Nnewi South local government area, floored her during the primary that took place at Ekwulobia in Aguata local government area of the state. Ukachukwu polled 211 votes to defeat Bianca Ojukwu, who scored 177 votes.
Altogether, four notable personalities from the zone aspired for the ticket. They were Mrs. Ojukwu, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah of Capital Oil, both from Nnewi, a banker, Dr. Anselm Enyimba from Okija and Ukachukwu, the eventual winner, who is from Osumenyi in Nnewi South local government area. Ubah was disqualified by the APGA screening committee on the ground that he did not obtain a waiver as provided by the APGA constitution. He was to stir some controversy after his disqualification by releasing a video recording of his alleged agreement with Governor Willie Obiano, the chairman of Board of Trustee, BoT, of APGA. The agreement, allegedly reached before the governorship election of November, 2017, was that the APGA ticket for the senate for Anambra South would be for his asking if he supported Obiano in that governorship election.
When the leadership of APGA interpreted this as blackmail and ignored his threats to cause trouble in the party if he was refused participation in the primary, some thugs suspected to be his followers stormed the venue of the APGA primary and tried to disrupt the exercise, but were however overpowered by security operatives.
Before the primaries, many prominent people across Igbo land had vowed to sponsor Ojukwu’s widow for the race by contributing the needed funds that would be required for her campaign. Perhaps they took it for granted that Mrs. Ojukwu would get the ticket, not knowing that Ukachukwu would cause the upset for her.
Indications that Mrs. Ojukwu would not find things easy fulfilling her ambition emerged soon after she showed interest in the senatorial seat, when members of the Ojukwu family held a press conference in Abuja, saying they were opposed to her becoming a senator for Anambra State. Their main reason was because she hailed from Enugu State and that it was improper for her to occupy a position meant for someone from Anambra South. Whether this contributed to her loss during the primary could not easily be ascertained, although many people were surprised at the opposition she faced from her immediate family at that point in time.
Indeed, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, a pro Biafra group, had before the APGA primary, asked Bianca to withdraw from the race on the ground that she might be rubbished in the process. When she did not oblige the request, MASSOB issued a statement urging APGA delegates to vote against her. The group said that because of the high respect and regards Igbo people have for her husband, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, his widow should not engage in partisan politics.
As feared by MASSOB, Mrs. Ojukwu was rubbished as she was defeated in the election. Ukachukwu, who won the election, was a former member of House of Representatives for Abuja Municipal Area Council/ Bwari Federal Constituency, during which he was chairman of House Committee of Federal Capital Territory and Oil and Gas at various times.
Since the current democratic dispensation, Ukachukwu has been aspiring to become governor of Anambra State without success. He was until recently a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from where he defected to APGA. He was also among top politicians in Anambra State that supported Governor Obiano during the last governorship election in the state and many people saw this as payback time.