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With the November 18 gubernatorial election in Anambra State fast approaching, there is no excitement in the air. There is no tension anywhere in the state. Journalists covering the run-up to the election keep giving the impression that the winner is not yet known. However, almost everyone tells you that Governor Willie Obiano is going to win by a considerable margin.
This is not the first time a winner in an election would be known long before the polls are conducted. In 2015, for instance, it was certain that Muhammed Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) were going to dethrone President Goodluck Jonathan and his People Democratic Party (PDP), but Nigerians, including the media, could not accept the fact until the votes were cast and results released. In the election, the evidence that the PDP was going to be defeated was overwhelming. Consider the fact that five state governors defected from the PDP to the then newly registered APC in one day. So many serving senators and other National Assembly members also followed suit. This was rather unusual in Nigerian politics, where the trend had always been for members of the opposition parties to join the ruling party during electioneering because the ruling party was going to win. Politicians are much smarter than most people tend to acknowledge. They smell victory miles away, and so join the winning group.
In Anambra State right now, people are leaving the APC and the PDP in droves and moving into the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The people involved are both grassroots elements and the movers and shakers of the state’s politics. The situation is such that even some political and financial heavyweights who had one grouse or another about Governor Obiano are now negotiating with him, sometimes openly.
The PDP and APC, the two main opposition parties in the state, are in disarray. The disgruntled members, including those who contested for the gubernatorial tickets, are most likely to not only vote Obiano but also campaign vigorously for him. They are already working for him in a subterranean way. Not even one of the several persons who contested in the APC primary election has congratulated the winner, Tony Nwoye, let alone agreed to work with him. Yet, Nwoye is supposed to be quite popular in the party, considering that he won by over 55 per cent. It is APC’s tough luck that it has thus far chosen a flag-bearer neither President Buhari nor Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would be comfortable campaigning for. We are waiting to see the party’s chairman, John Oyegun, a former Edo State governor and member of the defunct National Democratic Committee (NADECO), raise Nwoye’s hand in public, as he risks severe reputational damage. Besides, Senator Andy Ubah, the very big fish who came second in the primary election, is headed for the courts to prevent Nwoye from flying the party’s flag. The biter litigation will leave the APC in a deeper mess.
The PDP is in an irretrievable mess. As in the APC, not even one of the several aspirants who lost in the primary election has congratulated the winner, Oseloka Obaze. If anything, each of the defeated aspirants is at war with the victor. Obaze is a creation of former Governor Peter Obi, who is using him as a mere surrogate candidate for a third term in office as Anambra State governor. Obi manipulated the PDP national leadership to remove Professor Jerry Gana, who was doing a fine job as leader of the committee reconciling and harmonising activities in the state’s chapter of the party.
Gana was removed and replaced with a caretaker committee led by Professor ABC Nwosu, a former Health Minister. We will not forget the unconscionable manner the original list of delegates to the state congress and the subsequent primary election was tampered with. Only names of Peter Obi’s supporters were finally published as delegates.
As 22 out of 36 members of the Anambra PDP Caretaker Committee members stated in their petition to Senator Ahmed Makarfi, chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, they were not recognised as ward delegates, not to talk of state delegates! Governors Nyesom Wike of the Rivers State and Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, who were supposed to superintend the state congress/primary election, left the state before the event was held. To worsen matters, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State allegedly ordered his security men to manhandle them when they protested against the glaring injustice.
The PDP, frankly, looks doomed in the forthcoming election. Over a half of the 36 members of the Anambra PDP Caretaker Committee are at war with their chairman and secretary, and they are fighting in the open. How could it suspend Ifeanyi Ubah of all persons for protesting against the release of delegates list to all aspirants only 48 hours to the election? Why should only Prof Nwosu, Peter Obi and his surrogate candidate, Oseloka Obaze, be the ones to draw up the list? Can any of these persons claim to have contributed more than Ifeanyi Ubah to the party, especially during the 2015 general election? Ubah spent a fortune to mobilise support for the PDP through the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN). Impunity made the PDP lose the last general election, and impunity will make it lose the Anambra election disastrously.
Ubah and other PDP gubernatorial aspirants, such as Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, are naturally expected to work for Obiano, like disgruntled APC aspirants. Therefore, Obiano will have a walkover.
Of course we will not forget to mention ex-Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Chukwuma Soludo, who, while delivering a lecture to mark Obiano’s third anniversary, noted that since the governor had a record of achievements, ambitious politicians waiting in the wings to take over should not waste their money on the November 18 election. He advised them to use the huge amounts meant for the election to set up businesses in the Anambra State. The advice could not have been more appropriate.
• Hon Okechi, a founding APC member in Anambra State, was chairman of the state House Committee on Information and of Committee on Public Petitions.