October 26, 2021

Anambra 2021: When APC walks a political slippery slope

Anambra 2021: When APC walks a political slippery slope

By Christian Chime

DESPITE the insinuation that Chief George Moghalu has been muscled into submission by some bigger wigs in the All Progressives Congress, APC, to drop and withdraw his potentially precarious suit against the party, which seeks to bar the party from presenting Senator Andy Uba as its November 6, 2021 Anambra State governorship candidate in the election, all indications from the court point to the contrary.

This was glaring from last week’s court proceedings at the Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo that the final judgement would be read within the next 60 days, the scheduled date of the election notwithstanding.

And should the inevitable happen, it would surely be the umpteenth time the party will be walking the path of ignominy and shame simply because it repeatedly failed to institute internal discipline and respect for not just its own laws, but the unambiguous provisions of the nation’s Electoral Act, especially Section 87.

It would be recalled that the main opposition party had its numerous vices and somewhat indiscretions while they reigned, but had managed to maintain the balance in the conduct of its primary elections.

Today, all the other political parties participating in the coming November 6 election have been holding their hearts in their palms, wishing that the APC missteps as it currently wobbles along on this latest case for them to take immediate advantage of it. Moghalu, a widely acknowledged dedicated, consistent and loyal party man was also a key foundation member of APC in the entire South East geopolitical zone.

He was seen as an embodiment of energy, trust and belief in party discipline. Someone observed that ‘irrespective of the seeming superficial gale of decamping into APC now, it’s someone like Chief Moghalu that gives people reason to be loyal and dedicated to the party. That no such rare breed anywhere deserves to be shabbily treated, because it will greatly demoralise others.

Moghalu has been steady with the APC from inception. So why won’t someone like him be listened to, especially on the issue concerning a new comer into the party. It’s really a slap on the face of all consistent, dedicated and loyal party members.

His prayers were not unexpected: delist the APC and Uba from the November 6 election in the state; refund all expenses of the 13 aspirants, including the N23 million spent on the Nomination and Expression of Interest forms; and then pay him N100 million compensation for damages.

In fact, no one would shed any tears for the APC because, just as a chieftain of the party stated: “It’s a self-inflicted injury”. Yes. Because a similar thing happened in the recent past to the party in Zamfara State.

While a near similar experience occurred in Rivers and Bayelsa states, so should same happen in Anambra State this time, it would just be following a pattern for the party, since its leaders appear to have refused to learn from the past.

In the Zamfara State case, two opposing camps within the party led by the then incumbent governor and a serving senator at the time were bitterly opposed to each another that it affected the smooth conduct of the primary election for the 2019 general elections. But in order to save face, they quickly concocted a list.

However, the severity of the acrimony apparently pushed the other camp to go to court and got the list, and the primary election that generated same nullified – as failing to follow stipulated process. So, though the party won the election, it lost it in all categories: the governorship, all National and State Assembly seats to the second placed participants. The losses were huge and costly. And no one had expected the party to box itself to a similar corner again – this time in Anambra State.

Anyone who says the fear of this Moghalu’s suit was not palpable, should endeavour to come to Anambra and see. Because while other candidates like Chief Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Godwin Maduka of the Accord Party, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo of the Zenith Labour Party and Prof. Chukwuma Soludo were busy crisscrossing the state campaigning and meeting groups and citizens, the APC candidate appears timid and intimidated by his party’s own acts already.

Even the opportunities presented by Governorship Candidates Debates were not utilised at all, as he stayed away from all such platforms. It’s clear the party is not in it at all! APC in that State is yet to recover from that self-inflicted harm. Hence, it would be unpardonable to railroad itself into the same dishonourable corner again so soon, because it would take a generation of prayers to avert similar experience in this Anambra episode.

But one thing stands out here. That for the party, the ruling party for that matter, to have failed to use its internal mechanisms to resolve the Anambra June 26 primary election impasse was read and interpreted as either that it doesn’t reckon with the members there, or that it knows the truth but was too ashamed to confront and acknowledge it! However, whichever was the case, it doesn’t speak well of the party. So much so for a ruling party.

Albeit, the judiciary -the last hope of the offended, has refused to chicken out too. It was therefore committed to confront history with its verdict one day soon. And whichever way it goes would be chronicled in the annals of the nation’s political development records and history.

The prayers brought before the court by Moghalu, a key aspirant of the party in the June 26 primary election, sought to nullify the purported primary election and order a fresh one. Or for an order of the court compelling the APC to refund the N23 million he paid for the purchase of the Nomination Form and Expression of Interest Form, since, in his views, he was not given fair opportunity to participate in the said primary election.

Moghalu had also alleged that the Electoral Act and the party’s (APC) guidelines were brazenly truncated in the purported primary claimed to have been conducted on June 26.

In the documents filed before the court by his counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, Chief Moghalu lamented that the application forms called Nomination/Expression of Interest forms cost him and other aspirants a whopping N23 million each, whereas “no primary election known to law was conducted by the party.”

He presented copies of the official report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which confirmed that no primary election was conducted within the time stipulated by law.  In addition, he cited Section 87 of the Electoral Act and Guidelines of the party (APC) that outlined the time to conduct any primary election to be between 8 am and 4 pm of the given date.

He told the court that he and other delegates who had turned out to cast their votes, as well as INEC officials who came to monitor the process, waited till 7pm on June 26, 2021 without seeing party officials billed to conduct the primary election as planned. That they all left the venue(s) when the reality dawned on them that no election would be conducted.

The applicant said he was shocked when the following day the party announced that it had conducted a purported primary election and that one Emmanuel Andy Uba won. In the foregoing, therefore, he urged Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo to nullify the purported primary election and order a fresh one as there was no primary election by the party on June 26.

Chime, a political observer, wrote from Abuja