The political atmosphere in Anambra State is hazy as the November 6, 2021 governorship election draws near.
Political parties in Anambra State are scheming to undo one another in order to take over the state’s mantle of leadership.
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This is especially as the two big parties; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are poised to taking over power from the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the state.
Pundits have reached a consensus that the election is a straight battle among the three political parties even though the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and others have also activated their political structures ahead of the election.
Political analysts say the election is critical to the participating parties as it would determine, to a large extent, their performance and add value to their strength in the 2023 general polls.
However, because of lack of internal democracy in Nigerian political parties, intra-party crises have bedevilled the APC, PDP and APGA. In some cases, parallel primaries were held, while in others, strong forces emerged to oppose the choices made.
While the APGA and the PDP, which are said to be more popular in the state, are neck-deep in unabated factional crises, the APC is also failing in its strategy as the outcome of its primary have sparked outrage.
The party’s primary election, conducted on June 26, 2021 by the Governor Dapo Abiodun-led electoral committee, produced Senator Andy Uba as candidate for the election.
But in a swift reaction, 11 of the 14 aspirants who contested the election, led by Chief George Moghalu, rejected the outcome of the primary poll at a press conference in Awka, the state capital.
Moghalu argued that in all the 326 electoral wards of the state, people came out to vote, but none of the team saddled with the responsibility to conduct the primary and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials were seen.
Moghalu, the managing director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), said anybody who claimed there was a primary election was fraudulent and did not wish the APC well in the November 6 election.
Two other aspirants, Paul Orajiaka and Edozie Madu, backed Moghalu’s position and warned that the era when one man would come up with fake figures to claim victory was over.
Johnbosco Onunkwo, Ben Etiaba, Amobi Nwaokafor, Chidozie Nwankwo, Geoff Onyejegbu, Azuka Okwuosa and others, who were aggrieved, also graced the event.
Similarly, some of the aggrieved aspirants petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, demanding a fresh primary election.
Addressing a press conference on June 29, 2021 in Abuja, Chief Moghalu, who spoke on behalf of six others, claimed there was no election and demanded the cancellation of the exercise for a fresh poll to be held.
I will do everything within my ability and the law to ensure that the travesty orchestrated by Prince Dapo Abiodun and his team will not stand.
“I have appointed a legal team and we have gathered evidence, including videos, pictures and sworn statements by party election officials appalled by the fraud that Dapo Abiodun and his people have sought to perpetrate against the people of Anambra State. Election was not held in any voting centre in the state,” he said.
Earlier, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, called for the postponement of the exercise, saying there was no sign that it was taking place in the state.
Ngige said that about 4:25pm, the election was yet to commence in the 326 wards of the 21 councils in the state, and called for the postponement of the exercise.
“Your Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the chairman of the Anambra State Primary Election Committee, good day. As I write you now, 4:25 pm, Saturday, June 26, I am in my home town, Alor, with two electoral wards, and there is no sign of any governorship primary election.
“My inquiries and investigation show that the story is the same all around the 326 wards of the 21 local government areas in the state.
“As a result, most party members have left for home, having waited since 8am. I discussed with your member, Senator Ken Nnamani and I will advise you call the panel members to shift the exercise to Tuesday, June 29, to also enable you tidy up some issues raised by aspirants,” Ngige noted in a statement by his media office at Alor in Idemili South Local Government Area of the state.
The minister said the postponement of the election became imperative to enable party members across the state participate, as well as give enough room for committee members to resolve contentious issues raised by the aspirants.
However, this advice fell on deaf ears as the committee went ahead and conducted the exercise on June 26.
Prior to the primary election, some members of the party had accused Senator Uba of trying to hijack the process in his favour, an allegation the lawmaker consistently rebuffed.
Uba said the allegations were baseless, unsubstantiated and lacked merit, describing “those behind it” as being insincere.
The Zamfara fever
The Primary Election Appeal Committee, led by Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State has, however, confirmed during the submission of the committee’s report to the national leadership of the party that it received a total of five petitions.
He said the five petitions were diligently attended to in line with the party’s guidelines and constitution.
“We thrashed the issues and advised the party accordingly,” the governor said.
But political analysts have expressed fear that if not properly nipped in the bud, the situation could degenerate into compelling the APC to loss Anambra. They stressed that the Zamfara scenario would likely play out.
This is especially as top party leaders confirmed to Daily Trust on Sunday that the emergence of Uba as the candidate of the party was final.
Bello Matawalle became the governor Zamfara State on the platform of the PDP after the Supreme Court ruled on the internal crisis that ravaged the APC in 2019. The court had annulled the votes of the APC in the 2019 elections on the grounds it was not eligible to field candidates in the state over its inability to conduct primaries.
The Supreme Court ruled that the party did not produce valid candidates in all the elections in the state.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgement delivered by a five-man panel of justices, led by the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, held that the ruling party did not conduct valid primary elections to nominate candidates for any elective position in the state.
The court maintained that the Sokoto division of the Court of Appeal was right when it held that the APC did not file any eligible candidate in the 2019 general election in Zamfara State.
Consequently, the apex court, in its lead verdict delivered by Justice Paul Galinje, dismissed the appeal brought before it by the APC.
“The appeal had no merit and it should be dismissed. It is accordingly dismissed,” the apex court ruled.
However, Matawalle recently defected to the APC with senators, among many other top politicians in his state.
Uba begs aggrieved aspirants
Senator Uba, who was announced winner of the primary, however, extended a hand of fellowship to the 13 other aspirants who contested the poll.
He spoke with newsmen at his campaign office in Awka, the state capital, insisting that he could not campaign and win the election alone.
The lawmaker explained that the campaign to win the governorship election would not be achieved with division, and stressed the need for all the other aspirants to come together for the greater task ahead.
“Please join me, I can’t go this journey alone. This campaign cannot be achieved by a divided camp. I plead with all today that we come together to achieve our collective victory. It was a free and fair contest, and by the grace of God, I emerged victorious.
“I extend a hand of fellowship and brotherhood to all brave qualified men who contested this election with me. I ask you to join me to walk this road to victory. I have been in your shoes several times, where I was not lucky and I joined the victor to try to achieve victory for our party.
“I implore you to please join me as I recognise that I cannot go on this journey alone. Some may say that it is not easy to be magnanimous in victory, but I declare today that the victory that bears my name is collective.
“I reach out to all to please join this crusade for eventual victory in November. There is strength in unity; we will walk away from all divisions that have stunted our development and prevented us from our collective dreams,” he said.