In this report, OKECHUKWU OBETA, examines the strength and weaknesses of the parties ahead of the November 6 Anambra State gubernatorial election
For anyone who is familiar with the political dynamics of Anambra State, it would seem like only three political parties have the chance of emerging victorious in the coming gubernatorial election of the state.
About 18 political parties according to the record of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have fielded candidates to participate in the election.
Only three of them, however, have the structures, and other basic requirements needed for victory in the state gubernatorial election.
In addition to having strong presence at the grassroots level, large financial war-chest, command of the security institutions, as well as, popularity among eligible voters, endorsement of the elite class is critical to winning the poll.
The parties that have relative advantage in these aforementioned criteria are, the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA); the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and the All Progressives Congress (APC), which controls federal power.
However, about four other political parties have the potential of making remarkable impacts in the contest. But their capacity in terms of emerging the ultimate winner of the governorship seat remains doubtful for any close watcher of the state’s political craftsmanship.
These political parties include, the Young Progressives Party (YPP) African Democratic Congress (ADC) Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and Accord Party.
Ironically, the three frontrunner-political parties, APGA, PDP, and APC are battling intra-party litigations over who the candidates are for the election. The legal tackles border particularly on the manner they conducted governorship primaries from where their candidates were chosen.
For instance, the Appeal Court cleared a former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo as APGA candidate against Hon. Chukwuma Umeorji, whom the INEC had earlier accorded the recognition, based on a High Court judgement in Jigawa State.
But he has gone to the Supreme Court to challenge his ouster by the Court of Appeal.
Soludo emerged as a candidate in the primary election conducted by the leadership of Chief Victor Oye. Umeorji emerged as a candidate under the Chief Jude Okeke-led APGA leadership.
Oye’s leadership enjoys support of the key party stakeholders, including the Anambra State governor who doubles as chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, (BoT) Chief Willie Obiano and immediate past party national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh. Umeorji’s supporters are aggrieved party members who felt short changed when the party was united.
Their grouse is based on their allegation that they were denied a chance to vie for the ticket after huge sums of money were taken from them.
Just like Soludo, an Appeal Court has also affirmed Mr. Valentine Ozigbo as candidate of PDP, but his challenger, Dr. Ugochukwu Uba has headed to the Supreme Court to challenge the Appeal Court decision.
Uba was nominated as PDP candidate by a factional state caretaker of the party loyal to his younger brother, Chief Chris Uba, and, headed by Chukwudi Umeaba.
Ozigbo, on the other hand, emerged PDP governorship flag bearer in a primary organised by the Prince Uche Secondus-led national leadership.
The PDP national leadership had already constituted its national campaign council for the Anambra state gubernatorial election with Ozigbo as the party’s candidate.
APC is also facing legal challenges over how Senator Andy Uba emerged as its candidate. The 13 other aspirants who participated in the “direct primaries” accused the chairman of the APC national committee mandated to conduct the primary, Ogun State governor Prince Dapo Abiodun of compromising the process in favour of Uba.
One of the front-runners, a former managing director of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Chief George Moghalu has instituted action in the Court challenging Uba’s candidacy.
While it is strongly believed that the litigation would largely define the outcome of the polls, each party and its candidate, however, has peculiar strengths and weaknesses.
APGA: In addition to enjoying incumbency advantage, the party has grassroots popularity. Also, the candidacy of the former CBN governor, Soludo, is an advantage. He has national and global recognition.
Also, as the ruling party in the state, APGA will have a strong financial war-chest to prosecute the election. And with the governor as the chief security officer of the state, the party will enjoy a higher level of security support than the PDP, except APC.
But the internal squabbles caused by the way some governorship aspirants were disqualified from the primary will affect the party’s strength. For instance, even if Umeorji loses at the Supreme Court, it is unlikely that he and his loyalists will work for the party’s victory.
Widow of the late Supreme leader of the party, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Bianco appears not to have forgiven the betrayal done to her in the last general election during which she was denied the party’s ticket for Anambra South Senatorial zone.
Even though the APGA peace and reconciliation committee headed by Chief Victor Umeh had led his team to plead with her to forgive and forget the past, it does appear she has not accepted the peace overtures.
She was conspicuously absent at the inauguration of the party’s governorship campaign committees even though she was named as a member of the national campaign council.
While the recent defection of some APGA members to APC spells a terrible omen for the ruling party, another aspirant who was disqualified, former presidential aide, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, crossed over to ADC where he has emerged as the party’s candidate.
PDP: The party also enjoys strong followership across the state. The party occupied two out of three senatorial seats until Senator Stella Odua dumped PDP a s join the APC. However the party has six out of the eleven House of Reps seats, leaving APGA with the remaining five.
The candidate, Ozigbo, and his running mate, Mrs Azuka Enemo, a former Commissioner for Local government, are added advantage to the party. They are rated as people of integrity, capable of delivering good governance. Ozigbo is humble, energetic and believed to possess innovative ideas, judging from his antecedents as boss of Transcorps PLC.
Also, presence of former governor of the state, and, leader of the party in the state, Mr. Peter Obi, Senator Ben Obi, Chief Mrs Josephine Anenih, Prof. A. B. C Nwosu, are advantageous for the party. For some watchers, the fact that Ozigbo does not enjoy Chief Chris Uba’s support is an advantage.
For those of this school of thought, Uba is keenly linked to the political opprobrium in the party and the state, especially when PDP held sway.
The defection of some former governorship aspirants, including Chief Obiora Okonkwo and Dr. Godwin Maduka who have emerged as candidates of the ZLP and Accord Party respectively might impact the party
APC: The major strength of APC in the election is what is known as federal might. This, in the view of those who consider it critical, includes the influence on INEC and security agencies. Also the recent defections into the party’s fold in the state is a breath of fresh air.
But in view of the manner the candidate Uba, emerged as candidate would be worrisome for the party. The party leader in the state Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, and all other co-aspirants are not in tune with Uba’s candidacy.
The stakeholders see his candidacy as an imposition done by forces outside the state.
YPP’ s governorship candidate is the incumbent Senator representing Anambra south senatorial district, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah. The party’s strongest advantage is absence of internal squabbles unlike APGA, PDP and APC.
It, however, does not have the structures across the state that can guarantee it’s victory in the governorship election.