Anambra 2015: Intrigues Played by Political Parties and Aspirants

Imanuel Jannah
By Imanuel Jannah December 24, 2014 06:35

anambra

Penultimate weekend, Nicholas Ukachukwu spent close to six hours at the headquarters of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) waiting to know his fate in the hands of the party’s appeal committee.

On the notice board of the party was a list of House of Assembly and National Assembly aspirants who were screened and cleared by the committee headed by the party’s National Vice Chairman (South West), Tayo Sowumi. Ukachukwu’s name was not on the list.

Reasons adduced by the Sowumi committee for the omission were; that he (Ukachukwu) may return to his former political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and that he had a matter at the court with Senator Andy Uba over candidacy of Anambra South Senatorial District in the 2011 general elections.

Less than 24 hours later, what appeared as reprieve came the way of Ukachukwu when he was cleared to the delight of his teeming supporters. That, however, was shortlived. Not daunted, he approached the court, which eventually cleared him to seek the party’s ticket.

This scenario in APGA has also remained a common occurrence in the PDP, as well as the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Anambra State.

In the last two weeks or thereabouts, the issue of screening of aspirants for the 2015 general election has exposed the level of horse-trading and intrigues going on within the three political parties.

There have also been protests from aspirants who allegedly have been short-changed by some tin gods in the power play.

This politics of wit and the situation on the ground would determine the shape of the primaries by the parties and, consequently, the candidates that may emerge for various positions.

APGA and burden of incumbency The acceptance that trailed the victory of APGA in the November 2013 governorship election in Anambra, which ought to have been a plus to it, may turn out to be its undoing, if not properly handled, analysts have noted. This is on account of unusual interest that politicians are developing in the party. With APGA appearing a ready platform for attaining political offices from the state, the party has been witnessing a deluge of aspirants for its state and National Assembly tickets.

Somehow, the rat race seems more pronounced in Anambra South Senatorial District, with major gladiators like Ukachukwu, a three-time senatorial aspirant, not appearing to take chances this time around.

Ukachukwu, who, many say, has the capacity to take on any APGA aspirant in the district and by extension, even his age-long rival Senator Andy Uba from the PDP, may have to contend with yet another big fish in the race, Ernest Ndukwe, former Vice Chairman of Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), and others. Ndukwe seems prepared for the race, given his clout and wealth of experience in the public service.

On the other hand, the battle for Anambra North District seems to be a walk-over for Dubem Obaze, who has always remained the choice of most party members.

Obaze’s chances of picking the party’s ticket got brighter with the absence of Alphonsus Igbeke at the screening session. Igbeke did not come for screening and his name was not shortlisted for the primaries.

Similarly, Victor Umeh’s candidacy seems assured in Anambra Central District due to the automatic ticket supporters of APGA from that zone and beyond bequeated to him and approved by the governor, Wille Obiano.

Umeh may, however, have to contend with some party opponents who are insisting that he should have resigned his position as national chairman of the party before aspiring to any elective position.

While the senatorial contest may not be too difficult to manage, the case with 11 House of Representatives tickets, may not be easy, given the challenge of zoning and corresponding agitations by the constituting units.

Anambra East and West Federal Constituency tops the chat of this agitation at the moment, with party chieftains from Anambra West insisting that it is their turn to represent the area. Anambra West, incidentally, had produced Ralph Okeke, who served two terms in the House, while Anambra East has the incumbent lawmaker.

The permutation, TheNiche learnt, is tilting in favour of Mrs. Edith Ejezie from Anambra East, who is being projected to level up the representation period with Anambra West.

Orumba North and South Constituency has a case of broken agreement because while the incumbent representative, Ben Nwankwo, was contesting the seat, from Orumba South in PDP, Dr. Okey Udeh, former deputy governor, also contested under APGA from Orumba North.

The case of Anaocha, Dunukofia-Njikoka Federal Constituency has Dunukofia Local Government Area as the most marginalised. The council has, however, not come up with aspirants with capacity as Dozie Nwankwo of Njikoka council area. Nwankwo ran for the position in 2011 under the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and gave Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, Chairman, House Committee on Environment, a good run for her money. For example, the contest was taken to the tribunal and witnessed two re-run elections.

Even at that, Nwankwo still has the President General of his town, Enugwu-Ukwu, Mike Nwanocha, to contend with in APGA. There were also insinuations that he was not enjoying the support of the deputy governor of the state, Dr. Nkem Okeke.

Reports, nonetheless, indicate that those gray areas on Nwankwo may have been put to rest.

Elsewhere, Idemili North Local Government Area seems to be winning the war on zoning, as most political parties are looking at that direction.

It is on record that Idemili South had produced Jerry Ugokwe and Charles Odedo, currently in the House, hence the North is now laying claim to the seat in 2015.

Same is the case with Awka North and South Federal Constituency where the third arm of the political bloc, Obizi, is insisting that it is yet to produce a National Assembly member.

The case of Aguata Federal Constituency is also entangled in zoning controversy, though Aguata North may give way for the South, it was learnt. The North has, at the moment, council chairman, deputy council chairman, council party chairman and commissioner in the state executive council (SEC).

PDP and challenge of internal democracy Problems of the PDP ahead 2015 are multifarious. For instance, the party’s nomination forms were purchased in Abuja and not in Anambra. The party today has three factions – the Ejike Oguebego faction, Kenneth Emeakayi faction and a caretaker committee set up in Abuja to manage the affairs of the party while the election lasts. So far, the two delegate elections conducted by the Oguebego group have already been approved and accepted as credible by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), hence giving legitimacy to the faction.

For its senatorial contest, Ekwunife and Obiora Okonkwo are being touted as the big names in the race. What may count against Ekwunife in the exercise, TheNiche gathered, is her tendency to jump from one party to another.

Okonkwo, on the other hand, enjoys the support of most party members in Anambra and at the national level. He is also said to possess the intellect and financial war chest required for the encounter.

The ticket for Anambra South District seems to favour the incumbent, Senator Uba, who only has Chuma Nzeribe to battle with.

Nzeribe, incidentally, is more grounded in the game of party politics, hence the fear that if the contest is thrown open, he may carry the day. But that is as far as Nzeribe can go, given that he may have to battle with those that have been severally described as the owners of PDP and those who have grouses against his candidacy. These factors, it is estimated, would play against him and clear the coast for Uba.

The two amazons in Anambra North, Stella Odua and Senator Margery Okadigbo, appear to have divided the ranks of PDP both in Abuja and in Anambra over who becomes the candidate of the party.

Oduah, former Minister of Aviation and one of the leaders of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign in 2011, is alleged to have been immensely favoured at the moment. However, the reported agreement between the senators and the presidency may give Okadigbo some advantages.

But there are fears that the consequences of Okadigbo and Odua clash would favour the chances of APGA’s Obaze, who is referred to as the home boy of Anambra North senatorial zone.

PDP, however, has to battle with the issue of zoning in the case of the House of Representatives and the demand by the incumbent for a return to the National Assembly.

Mass defection of legislators from APGA to PDP is yet another obstacle before the party in view of the automatic ticket pledge to its lawmakers.

APC and conspiracy of silence APC is unique in its style and manner of conducting congresses and primaries. Curiously, not much is being heard about the party and those that have obtained forms for election.

Going by its tradition, the party prefers to endorse loyal members that have shown commitment to its ideals.

Apparently, the issue of internal democracy seems to work in principle in the party when it has to do with encouraging party loyalty.

At the moment, it has over 270 aspirants for the House of Assembly and National Assembly slots, but it is not clear if it would screen candidates.

APC seems to be enjoying the silence it engineered while understudying other parties. There are permutations that its silence would soon be broken and may be capable of being a game-changer.

Our correspondent learnt that part of the reasons for the silence in APC is that some aspirants in PDP and APGA who fear that they may not pick the tickets of their parties are already negotiating with it as a likely platform for realising their ambition. But how far and how smooth this may go remain to be seen.

This piece was written by Okey Maduforo

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Imanuel Jannah
By Imanuel Jannah December 24, 2014 06:35