Nigeria: PDP crisis alters political calculations (1)
By VINCENT UJUMADU
IF the on–going crisis in the Anambra State branch of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, over who should be its flag bearer for the November 16 election is not resolved urgently, the party may make itself a bystander in the governorship race.
For now, supporters of the party in the state are confused and it is therefore not surprising that many of them have become willing tools for swelling campaign rally grounds of other political parties.
A typical example was the flag off of the LP governorship campaign in Onitsha on Thursday where many former members of PDP were adorning Ifeanyi Ubah’s uniform and caps and directing affairs.
Sheep without shepherd
While the other major party contenders namely, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, All Progressives Congress, APC, and Labour Party, LP, are seriously mobilizing for the election with their candidates making great inroads in the state, supporters of PDP are behaving like a sheep without the shepherd.
Many of them say they have become more confused with the unfolding scenario, especially with two candidates – Tony Nwoye and Senator Andy Uba – laying claim to the ticket of the party.
State chairman of the party
The latest in the PDP drama is that a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has declared that Senator Andy Uba remains the PDP candidate for the election and that his crony, Chief Ejike Oguebego, should remain the state chairman of the party. The court ordered the Prince Ken Emeakayi-led PDP in Anambra State to maintain the status quo, pending the final decision of the court.
In the ruling handed by Justice H.A Nganjiwa, the court also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to identify with the Oguebego group that produced Uba as the authentic governorship candidate of the PDP.
Political calculations: After the primaries of the various political parties, the picture was that Tony Nwoye from Anambra North senatorial zone emerged for PDP in the primary supervised by the national leadership of the party, Willy Obiano also from Anambra North emerged for APGA, while Senator Chris Ngige from Anambra Central and Chief Ifeanyi Ubah from Anambra South emerged for APC and LP respectively.
Senator Andy Uba, another contender for the PDP ticket is from Anambra South.
When the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur leadership of PDP declared Nwoye as the party’s flag bearer, the fear in the camp of Willy Obiano of APGA was that unless the people of Anambra North were persuaded to dump the PDP candidate on election day, votes from the area are likely to be shared between PDP and APGA, thereby giving Ngige and Ifeanyi Ubah some kind of advantage as they are the major candidates in the other two senatorial zones.
However, if PDP dumps Nwoye and gives the ticket to Senator Uba, the people of Anambra North would heave a sigh of relief that their block votes would go to their own son, Obiano.
On the other hand, if eventually Uba gets the ticket for PDP, the worry would shift to Anambra South as he (Uba) and LP’s Ubah are likely to share the votes from the area. Uba is from the Aguata section of the senatorial zone, while Ubah is from Nnewi section of the same zone. While it would seem that Senator Ngige is in the world of his own in his Anambra Central, the truth is that he has Governor Peter Obi to contend with in the zone.
From all indications, Obi is not just waiting to hand over to anybody that would emerge winner after the November 16 election, but he wants to make sure that he hands over to a trusted person who would not rock the boat after his eight years of picking the bits and pieces of what was left of Anambra State after the unfortunate years between 1999 and 2006 when intra-party crisis in PDP led to the destruction of lives and government property worth billions of naira.
Indeed, were it not for Obi’s clamour that power should shift to Anambra North after his tenure and going further to ensure that somebody from the zone picked the ticket of his party, the situation would have remained as it had always been in the previous elections where the best Anambra North usually got was either the deputy governor or speaker of the House of Assembly.
For instance, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju who governed the state from 1999 to 2003 had his deputy from Anambra North and when Ngige mounted the saddle in 2003, he chose his deputy from Anambra South in the person of Dr. Okey Udeh, with the speaker of the House of Assembly coming from Anambra North.
Recovery of mandate
When Mr. Peter Obi, who is from Anambra Central recovered his mandate after three years in court, he worked with Dame Virgy Etiaba who is from Anambra South and for his second term, he chose Mr. Emeka Sibeudu also from Anambra South, while the speaker of the House of Assembly, Mrs. Chinwe Nwaebili, is from Anambra North.
Dr. Andy Uba, who governed for 17 days in 2007 before the Supreme Court stopped him, also chose his deputy from Anambra North. This is why the people of Anambra North see 2013 election as their best opportunity to produce the governor of the state for the first time since the creation of Anambra State. Before the primaries of the political parties, stakeholders from Anambra North held several meetings warning their people not to accept to be campaign coordinators or deputies for candidates from Anambra South and Central and so far, it had been obeyed.
For instance, it was gathered that Ifeanyi Ubah desperately wanted to choose his deputy from Anambra North, but because those approached for the position declined, he settled for Dr. Emeka Eze from Ukpo, Dunukofia in Anambra Central.
There are also indications that Ngige will choose his deputy from Anambra South as he did during his first outing in 2003. Willy Obiano of APGA has already chosen Dr. Emeka Okeke from Enugwu Ukwu in Anambra Central as his running mate.
With these running mates coming from Anambra Central, the implication is that the area would be up for grabs by the various political parties contesting the election and this may not be good for Ngige who is from the area.
Perhaps one of the greatest issues that would determine the outcome of the election is the political party cohesion. Apart from LP, the other three parties – PDP, APGA and APC have some issues to sort out before the election. Like in the previous elections, the signs are there that aggrieved members of political parties may work against their parties.
Take PDP for instance; if Senator Uba finally gets the ticket, it is not likely that the national leadership and the Kenneth Emeakayi –led group of the party would stick out their neck to support him.
This is because while most of the erstwhile governorship aspirants were together and obeying the guidelines stipulated by the party for the conduct of the primaries, Senator Uba and his family members, with Chris Uba as the arrow head, stayed away and held its primary with the senator as the only contestant. It was felt initially that the Uba family was wasting its time, but when the tunes from the INEC began to sound in their favour, it became clear that the family was not acting in isolation.
The climax was the recent ruling of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt making Uba the authentic candidate of the party for the election. If all the former governorship aspirants in the state refuse to work with Uba, he may not find things easy.