Tongues are wagging following the emergence of Nicholas Ukachukwu as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the November 16, Anambra governorship election
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Oct. 7, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
IT IS no longer news that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, shortlisted 23 candidates for the November 16, governorship election in Anambra State. What is the issue now is the intrigue that led to the emergence of Nicholas Ukachukwu as the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Since the party’s primary election on August 24, there had been the issue as to who was the authentic candidate of the party. The emergence of Ukachukwu remains a surprise to many political observers in the country.
The PDP has two factions in the state, and each faction flaunts a gubernatorial candidate. The Ejike Oguebego faction produced Senator Andy Uba as its gubernatorial candidate while the Ken Emeakayi-led group has Tony Nwoye, a former students’ union activist, as its gubernatorial candidate. The national leadership of the PDP recognises the faction of the party led by Emeakayi, and by extension, Nwoye, as the party’s authentic candidate, but the INEC identifies with Oguebego as leader of the state chapter of the party.
In view of the controversy INEC has created in Anambra PDP, the pertinent question is which primary produced Ukachukwu? Why did INEC recognise Ukachukwu since it did not monitor the primary election that produced him? Why did INEC ignore a similar court order to recognise Uba as the candidate of the party? If, indeed, Nwoye is not qualified to contest the primary, why did the PDP parade him as its candidate? One other equally disturbing development is the role courts in Port Harcourt are playing in the controversy.
But INEC said that it based its decision to unveil Ukachukwu as the flag-bearer of the PDP on a ruling by a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt. In a statement, Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to INEC chairman, said: “In line with the provisions of section 31 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has today, September 24, 2013, published the Form CF001 of candidates nominated by political parties for the November 16th governorship election in Anambra State. A total of 23 political parties nominated candidates for the governorship and deputy governorship slots.
“Two political parties, namely the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had issues with the candidates they intend to sponsor before the closure of nominations on September 17, 2013. But the Federal High Court in Awka, eased the contention over APGA’s nomination by vacating its order directing the commission to accept one governorship candidates from the party. For the PDP, the commission resolved to list Nicholas Chukwuejekwu Ukachukwu as the governorship candidate in accordance with the latest order as delivered by the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/296/2013–Nicholas Chukwuejekwu Ukachukwu vs. Tony Nwoye and three others,” he said.
The Commission also advised political parties and their members that only those on the list published by it are allowed to conduct electioneering campaigns. And any violation of this rule amounts to an electoral offence and security agencies are urged to intervene as such. Among those cleared to contest the election are Chris Ngige, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ifeanyi Ubah, Labour Party, LP, and Willie Obiano, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. Other parties whose candidates were cleared are AA, ACCORD, ACD, ACPN, AD, ADC, APA, CPP, DPP, ID, KOWA, MPPP, NCP, NNPP, PPA, PPN, SDP, UDP and UPP.
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, on September 17, ruled that Ukachukwu, runners up to Nwoye is the candidate of the party. The court held that Nwoye was not eligible to participate in the August 24, primary election conducted under the supervision of Ibrahim Shema, Katsina State governor. Justice S. A Aliyu, declared Ukachukwu the candidate of the PDP for the election on grounds that he was the only qualified aspirant in the said primary election.
He added that Ukachukwu scored the highest number of votes cast at the election. He further restrained Nwoye from parading himself as the candidate of the PDP for the election. More so, the judge restrained Bamanga Tukur, national chairman of the PDP, the leadership of the party and the INEC from presenting Nwoye as candidate for the poll.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Anambra PDP is involved in this kind of drama. In fact, it is said to be the trend in the party as far as Anambra is concerned. In the 2011 general elections, the party was embroiled in a similar controversy that saw the emergence of two sets of candidates in two different primaries, one by the Waku committee that was set up by the national leadership of the party, and the other by the state executive led by Benji Udeozor. INEC had accepted the list of the Benji Udeozor candidates claiming it recognised his faction, and that it monitored the conduct of its primary election.
This development, no doubt, is a minus for the PDP as the date of the election draws near, except the party takes drastic measures to resolve the issue of authenticity of its candidate, the battle for the control of government house, Awka, would be between the APGA, the APC and the LP.