Anambra as PDP test ground


If there is any doubt that the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is determined to discourage or disqualify certain candidates from representing the party in the 16 November 2013 governorship election in Anambra State, that doubt has been cleared by the haste with which the party leaders endorsed one of the candidates who emerged from one of the two primaries. Additionally, PDP leaders showed total disregard for a court order that restrained the party from endorsing one candidate over the other.

It is odd that the state congress of the PDP resulted in two factions that produced two elected governorship candidates. While Tony Nwoye emerged victorious in the primary conducted by the faction recognised by the PDP leadership, Andy Uba was declared the winner of the primary conducted by the faction that was chaired by Ejike Oguebego. Incidentally, Oguebego is the man recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the chairperson of the PDP in Anambra State. In light of this mess, the PDP leadership will have its hands full when and if it decides to resolve the problem.

As the PDP leaders have already shown their bias in approving one of the candidates, they have double trouble waiting for them. They will have to challenge the emergence of Andy Uba as the party representative in the November governorship election. They will also contest the recognition that INEC has accorded to Ejike Oguebego as the chairperson of the authentic faction of the PDP in the state. What a mess the PDP leaders have got themselves into. Already, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has been asked to determine who should represent the PDP in the governorship election on 16 November 2013. That election is barely 10 weeks away. The PDP leaders may have shot themselves on their toes. Interesting political times and intrigues are ahead.

I do not wish to support any of the two candidates who emerged from the PDP primary in Anambra State. But questions must be raised about the haste with which the national working committee of the party suspended one of the candidates Andy Uba, his brother Chris, and three other members of their faction. The PDP argued they were suspended because they were summoned to appear before the party leaders to explain their participation in a parallel congress that resulted in Andy Uba’s emergence as a governorship candidate.

I would argue the PDP leaders committed serious blunders by failing to handle the problem promptly and in a dispassionate manner. Rather than query how a state party congress produced two candidates, PDP leaders jumped quickly to clamp down on one of the elected candidates. The party should have investigated the problem in order to understand the causes. Jumping to conclusions before summoning parties in a dispute is not a fair way to resolve a conflict. The stage is definitely set for a long dispute that will most likely be resolved by the courts. In the end, if the PDP leaders do not exercise care, the party might be the loser in this tussle.

The duplicitous conduct of the PDP leadership is unravelling in Anambra State. Regardless of which of the two candidates emerges successful, the principles of fairness and equity and equal opportunity must be upheld. The PDP must produce a clear framework for the selection of the authentic candidate to represent the party in the governorship election in Anambra. If there is no such framework, the courts will have no option but to rule on the basis of legal arguments and some sort of evidence. It seems to me the PDP leadership has laid a foundation for instability in the Anambra State branch of the party. There must be a level playing field for all candidates who seek to represent the party at the governorship election.

No one would have predicted long before now that the PDP governorship primary in Anambra State would produce two controversial outcomes in the form of two candidates from two factions of the same party. The results have set up an explosive final run to the governorship election of 16 November.

A dysfunctional PDP in Anambra State will be in the best interest of other political parties that will contest the governorship election. A party that cannot hold a peaceful congress, a party that cannot figure out how to organise the governorship primary, a party that is incapable of putting its house in order, a party that has no regard for the wishes of voters is not fit to produce the next governor of Anambra State.

This has nothing to do with the qualities or suitability of the two candidates representing the two factions of the PDP in Anambra. It has more to do with the lack of organisational skills on the part of the party and the lack of sincerity on the part of the PDP leaders.

If PDP hierarchy knew there was a problem in the Anambra State branch and if they wanted to present a united front ahead of the governorship primary, the party leaders would have endeavoured to resolve the issues that have been tearing the party apart in Anambra. But because the leadership knew but failed to act, because they had an eye on their preferred candidate, the hypocrisy that underlined the party congress in Anambra State has now been exposed.

On paper, national leaders of every political party are expected to show even-handedness in the way they deal with internal problems. Being partial, showing a preference for one candidate over others, as demonstrated in the latest PDP governorship primary in Anambra, can only enhance and complicate matters.

When political candidates struggle to represent their parties at any election, they take it as a do-or-die contest. They risk everything, including their lives and the lives of their supporters, in order to emerge triumphant. It is a winner-take-all mindset. It is a philosophy informed by awareness that the fastest way to make money in our society is through election or political appointment. Here is a paradox. When political candidates say they are driven by the desire to serve the people, they actually imply they want the people to serve them. It is rare to find politicians whose genuine mission is to serve the people in their constituencies. This is why our brand of politics is markedly different from politics in other cultures.

Why does the PDP leadership perceive Anambra as a good site to test-run its agenda for mischief in the 2015 general election? Over the years, the PDP has carved out an image as a party that says one thing and puts into practice the opposite. This is a party whose leaders give candidates the signal that they have the highest support of the party and yet the same leaders turn their back when it is time to deliver on their promises.

I am not concerned about the impact that the factional disputes within the PDP will have on the party’s chances in the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State. Many people are disgusted already with the sinister politics that goes on in the PDP. Just last weekend, no fewer than seven PDP state governors and some prominent members split from the party to form their own political organisation. That development is a firm confirmation that the PDP is suffering from self-inflicted injuries. The PDP is mortally hurt. The party is sick at heart.

PDP leaders like to project their party as a paradigm of transparency and impartiality. I would argue vehemently that, far from that hype, the PDP is wrecked by internal double standards and treachery that are apparent in the public conduct and utterances of the party leaders.

Since its creation, Anambra State has been chiefly unlucky. It has been subjected to the evil plots of PDP leaders and godfathers. The predatory instincts of PDP leaders in Abuja and the vaulting ambitions of self-absorbed politicians in Anambra State have given the state the image of a no-man’s land, a land on offer to the highest bidders. The desperate attempt by PDP leaders to impose on the people of Anambra State a preferred candidate should be overturned through the ballot box on 16 November. PDP leaders are master spoilers who are intent on using the governorship election to achieve their personal objectives.

Voters in Anambra State must defeat the misleading assumption that the state has been reserved as a prize to be used to reward a particular governorship candidate. This kind of mentality is an affront to the people of Anambra State. It is disrespectful of the people’s right to choose their governor. A gubernatorial election is an opportunity for voters to exercise their right to choose who should govern them. That right must be used wisely.

The forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State will be interesting to watch. Whether the PDP will have a candidate in the election will be determined by how soon the feuding camps and the PDP leaders settle their legal actions, including how quickly they resolve their never-ending disputes.

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