THE November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State has something very interesting. The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the ruling party in the state, is an endangered species. It has lost Imo State, one of the two states it won in the 2011 governorship election, to the newly-registered All Progressives Congress, APC, through the defection of Governor Rochas Okorocha, early this year. For almost two years, the party was engrossed in a leadership crisis which split APGA into two factions namely the Peter Obi and the Victor Umeh factions. Obi is the only surviving governor of the party and if APGA loses the state in November, it will join the club of stateless parties. Umeh, whose national chairmanship of the party was threatened by the Obi faction, secured his position via a Court of Appeal judgment in July this year. Along the line, there was hope when the two gladiators announced, a few weeks ago that they had buried the hatchet, perhaps for the purpose of the forthcoming election. Those who thought the purported peace deal would enable APGA to go into the governorship race as a united front, have been disappointed after a disagreement arose between them over the choice the candidate to fly the party’s flag in the election. While Umeh would have preferred Charles Chukwuemeka Soludo, former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, to fly the party’s flag because of his intimidating antecedent and credentials, Obi had his own game plan and has succeeded in giving the party’s ticket to Willie Obiano, a retired banker, who is adjudged an outsider in the party. How that will work out for him remains to be seen.
Obi’s critics say he has shot himself in the foot. APGA is not going into the governorship race as a united party. As the saying goes, a house divided against itself cannot stand. Even though Obi has kept to his words that he would like his successor to come from Anambra North Senatorial district, which has not yet produced a governor in this present dispensation, Obiano, the APGA candidate, is relatively unknown in the State and may not be an easy sell to the voters. The consequence will be grave if APGA loses the state because of Obi’s failure to carry Umeh along at the campaign stage. He knows this and that, perhaps, explains why he told Nigerian editors at their national conference in Asaba, Delta State, that the forthcoming governorship race in Anambra State, will be a do-or-die affair. One of his strategies to win the race is to make other political parties, which are also eyeing his seat to thin out while also preparing for the local government election, which he has scheduled to hold in October, almost a month to the governorship election. Probably, he feels his party’s victory in the council election will shore up victory for his candidate. It remains to be seen how that will work out for him. But if the party fails, it will go down in history as one of the failed parties in Nigeria.
Obi’s APGA is not the only party that sees the November 16, governorship election as a fight-to-finish. That explains why the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has two candidates juggling for its ticket in the race. Senator Andy Ubah represents the Ejike Oguebego’s faction of the PDP while Tony Nwoye is for the Ken Emeakayi-led faction. The interesting thing there is that while the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, recognizes Ubah as the authentic candidate of the PDP, the party’s hierarchy recognizes Nwoye as its candidate. How that will play out remains to be seen. But if the INEC sticks to its gun by its recognition of Ubah as the PDP candidate, what happened in 2007 in Imo State may play out in Anambra State in 2013. Even though Senator Ifeanyi Ararume picked the PDP ticket and flew its flag in that year’s governorship contest, he never enjoyed the support of his party. That paved the way for the surprise victory of Ikedi Ohakim, who flew the flag of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA. If that happens, it may automatically pave the way for the victory of the APC candidate who will be chosen at a September 2, primary election. But the Labour party, which has Ifeanyi Ubah as its flag bearer, is also in contention for Obi’s seat. So, it may not also be smooth sailing for the APC.
This is the interesting scenario which we have decided to examine in our cover story for this week entitled: Anambra State Governorship Election: A Do-or-Die Affair. It was ably crafted by Olu Ojewale, the general editor. Happy reading.
— Sep. 9, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT