As the Anambra state governorship election draws nearer various political parties are angling to capture power in the state by all possible means.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressive Congress (APC) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) are the parties strong on ground in the state working to test their strength. As of today more than 20 aspirants have declared interest to contest the PDP ticket, while in APGA just about three have declared interest while in APC just few have shown interest.
Most of the people coming out for the governorship position under PDP are billionaires, who are ready to throw out any amount to clinch the ticket and this money bag politics has been the problem of PDP over the years in the state.
Unacceptable primary elections has repeatedly denied PDP the chance of winning elections in the state for about 18 years. One of the growing concerns among the stakeholders in the state’s PDP is the emergence of a generally acceptable candidate among the contestants.
Another concern is the worry over the emergence of a candidate amidst the contending issues of zoning in the state. The battle to fly the flag of the PDP has become even more intense now than ever before and members are seriously praying for acceptable primary, where all the aspirants will support the winner.
However all the aspirants on the ticket of the party are ‘heavyweights,’ and even the large number of aspirants on the platform has become a source of more worry to concerned party faithful and Anambra People.
The party is having aspirants like Senator Uche Ekwunife, Mr. Obiora Okonkwo, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, Mr. Harry Oranezi, Mr. Ifedi Okwenna, Mr. Emeka Azubogu, Mr. Godwin Maduka; Mr. Ike Oligbo, Mr. Emeka Etiaba, Mr. Chuma Nzeribe and Mr. Ugochukwu Okeke and others, and all of them are ready with their billions to emerge party flag bearer.
The State Chairman of the party, Mr. Ndubuisi Nwobu had severally assured that he was going to conduct a credible, free and acceptable primary election that would be okay to all aspirants. According to him, the party executive was not going to interfere with the conduct of the primaries, saying his interest will be on producing a candidate that every aspirant will accept in the party.
He said the executive has given the names of local government party leaders, stakeholders and ward chairmen to all those that have declared intention to run for the government position. “We have no much job to do on who becomes the party flag bearer in the election. Every aspirant should do his or her job and lobby the stakeholders and not the executive because there is nothing we can do in the primaries.
“We have given delegates’ lists to all persons that will run for governor in Anambra State on our platform. This has never happened before. We are bent on ensuring that the right person, who is elected by the people, wins the ticket of the party for the election.
“My name has been associated with a lot of aspirants, but the truth is that I cannot do much. The aspirants should go to the field and convince our party men. They already know who the delegates to the primary election are. Before now, the list is only produced a day or two to the election and usually compiled to favour one person or the other, but in this executive, we want to be fair to all.
“This executive does not have any pay master and we do not pander to the whims and caprices of any pay master. That is why we do not have money to do some of the things we should do in this party because money bags who usually throw money about are not comfortable with us because we are not ready to do their bidding,” he said.
Nwobu expressed confidence that the party executive will get it right this time despite every challenge.
He told party faithful recently “I promise you that the process to the emergence of candidate shall be free and fair, and I urge you all that anyone who emerges should be supported by all. Our journey to the Government House Agu Awka starts now, and from here”
However, News Echo gathered that more people may likely join the race under the platform of PDP as there are some behind-the-scene negotiations involving some top politicians interested in zoning the position.
“Many aspirants are still consulting before declaring, especially because they are afraid the zoning debate may not favour them and when you hear some people saying that zoning in Anambra State is not sacrosanct, they are just testing the public opinion on behalf of their aspirants,” he said.
Though, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost power in Anambra State about 16 years ago and has remained out of power in the state since then, political analysts still believe that the state is traditionally a PDP state, notwithstanding that since the party lost power in the state, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has been in power.
News Echo also gathered that apart from APGA being in power, the PDP in the state believes that even though it has been out of power for a very long time, it was the party that clearly influenced the victories that All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is enjoying in the governorship elections conducted since after the 2003 election.
Political commentators in the state, especially the PDP chieftains believe so much that the party’s influence in the state is so much that even opponents of PDP in the state agree that its greatest enemy have remained internal rancour and disagreement over choice of its candidate.
Going by the trend of PDP over the years whereby the big aspirants in PDP will never agree on one candidate, no one would be surprised if the party again loses to either the APC or APGA comes 2021. However, if the PDP is able to manage its internal problem and conduct credible primaries, it might return to Agu Awka Government House.
“For the PDP to regain power in the state which it lost 16 years ago, which depends, to a large extent, on its ability to conduct a generally acceptable primary election from where a generally acceptable candidate would emerge. If you know the people, the powerful aspirants I am talking about, and their political history, you will agree with me that this would be a difficult task” PDP insider said.
According to the insider, a close look at members of PDP in the state shows it has what it takes to dominate the political scene but the major problem has always been the disunity that usually arise from the party primary.
“This has always impacted negatively on PDP in the state as the gladiators usually fight against each other, leaving the opponent to grab the political prize. In 2010, the sudden choice of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, who just left the Central Bank of Nigeria as its governor, as against Hon. Tony Nwoye, who had campaigned extensively, led to the failure of the party as Nwoye’s supporters and other aspirants, who were dumped by the party for Soludo decided to work against the party. Of course, PDP lost the coveted governorship election to APGA.
Though the party fielded Hon Tony Nwoye as its candidate after a protracted battle in 2014, the choice of Nwoye did not also go down well with some other aspirants, who felt that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party then simply handed the ticket to Nwoye without considering their interests. The same internal disagreement cost the party the election as Willie Obiano of APGA won.
Even the party’s choice in 2017, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, a diplomat and former Secretary to Anambra State Government under Peter Obi, was also a victim of internal rancour. It was alleged that some members of the party, who believed that Peter Obi, who had then joined PDP, singlehandedly imposed him on the party” he said.
And since Nwobu had repeatedly assured of conducting credible election, it remains to be seen how he can achieve that in the state given the party record of disunity immediately after primary. Zoning issue has become a serious challenge facing the party as some analysts contend that zoning is one issue that may tear PDP and even the state apart if it is not handled properly ahead of the 2021 elections.
This is because many believe that the power rotation in the state among the three senatorial zones helped to stabilize the polity and made it less rancorous. The people of Anambra South Senatorial district are calling on politicians and other stakeholders to respect zoning arrangement in the state, others from Anambra Central and even Anambra North are preaching open contest for all the zones.
Those calling for zoning say Anambra Central has dominated the governorship of the state. It would be recalled that while Anambra South ruled the state through Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju from 1999 to 2003; Dr. Chris Ngige ruled the state for three years before Mr. Peter Obi recovered his mandate through the courts and ruled the state for eight years.
After Obi’s tenure, Anambra North, through Willie Obiano, took over. Obiano is in the second term, totaling eight years. The great Anambra forum and Ohaneze Ndigbo Anambra state chapter have consistently said that zoning formula must be respected in Anambra as the only way to stabilize politics and reduce cost of election in the state.