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Aspirants in the November 16, governorship race in Ananmbra State evolve various strategies to win their parties’ tickets for the contest

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug. 19, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE posters that adorn streets and towns in Anambra State tell the mood of the moment. Elections are around the corner. The streets are filled with posters and billboards of aspirants in the November 16, governorship election in the state. The expectations of various political parties are high as they countdown to the Election Day. The major contenders are putting various strategies in place in their bid to get the ticket to fly their parties’ flags in the election. It is believed that out of the legion of aspirants jostling to succeed Peter Obi, the incumbent governor of the state, only one will be elected after the hot race.

Despite the intractable crisis bedevilling them, the political parties are also strategising to win the election. In a bid to avoid the bitterness often associated with primary elections most of the contending political parties like All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the Labour Party, LP, the All Progressive Congress, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, may settle for consensus candidates.

The APGA has been in power since 2006 and the party under Governor Obi became the first party outside the ruling PDP to capture Anambra State twice. It is most likely that APGA, which has come out of a leadership crisis, will be going into the election with the spirit to retain power in the state. But it is not going to be easy for the party.

Realnews gathered that the APGA leadership has put some measures in place to systematically trim down the number of aspirants seeking to contest the election on the party’s platform. This is to ensure that the party does not have problems in screening the few aspirants. As it stands now, many of the aspirants who may have been seen as unserious in the party’s primary election, have been advised to drop their ambitions in the interests of the party. The party leadership had called all the aspirants especially from Anambra North and screened them secretly in order to pick the marketable ones.

Soludo
Soludo

However, with the emergence of the Chukwuma Soludo, former governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, into APGA, it has automatically altered the political equation of the state. The former CBN governor is one of the strong contenders for the APGA ticket. There are also other strong aspirants on the platform of APGA like Uche Ekwunife, Chike Obidigbo, Chinedu Idigo, Paul Odenigbo and Oseloka Obaze.

It is believed that APGA intends to wait for the emergence of PDP, APC and Labour Party candidates from any of the zones in the state to enable it assess their strengths and weaknesses. APGA may likely be the last to conduct primary election because it will be waiting for other big political parties to come up with their flag bearers first.

The PDP which lost the state to APGA, is anxious to take it back. But can it do it? Currently, the PDP chapter in the state has been in trouble and in political limbo and is experiencing a leadership crisis. At different times, it had difficulties in winning elections in the state because its primary elections have always been characterised by violence and litigations.

This year’s primary election in the PDP may not be an exception. Already, a faction allegedly belonging to Chris Ubah’s camp had, on Friday, August 3, held their own primary election at the local government and ward levels as against that of the State Working Committee, SWC, led by Ken Emeakayi.

The separate primary election held by Ejike Oguebego-led faction and the PDP chairman recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has shown that the party is not yet together. Many believe there are possibilities that Emeakayi’s faction will soon hold its own primary election at the local government and ward levels for the same local government election.

Critics argue that only a neutral candidate that does not belong to any camp can be acceptable in the case of the PDP. The calculation is that Senator Andy Ubah can never step down for his political foe, Nicholas Ukachukwu assuming the party decides to settle for a consensus candidate. Likewise, Ukachukwu may rather want the PDP not having any candidate at all than allowing Ubah to emerge as the flag bearer of the party.

Ubah
Ubah

The APC, many believe, is going to be a big threat to the PDP at the national level and APGA at the state level. But to the rural dwellers, APC is not yet known despite parading the likes of Senators Chris Ngige, Annie Okonkwo and Godwin Ezeemo. Close watchers of events in Anambra contend that the lack of geo-political balance and respect for the sensibilities of the electorate by the key players in the APC is the greatest headache Ngige, most visible aspirant, would have. In addition, many of those who were close to him have vowed to oppose him, this time around. Their reasons are similar and personal; they allege that he underrates loyalty. His upcoming APC is equally accused of lacking the sense of fair distribution of patronages and party positions.

The Labour Party may spring a surprise in the governorship race. Ifeanyi Ubah, chairman of Capital Oil and Gas, is seen to be the only notable candidate on its platform. Since Ubah’s entry into the party, he has breathed life into it once again. The LP now has cause to smile again with Ubah pumping money into it. But the first victim of Ubah’s entry into the LP was the estranged state chairman and leader of the party, Basil Iwuoba, who was shown the way out by the party at the state level and was forced to join another party in pursuant of his political ambition of becoming the next governor. But sources in the state alleged that Senator Ubah is romancing with the party on whose platform he contested the 2010 governorship election in the state, as his next plan in case the PDP denies him its ticket once again.

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