David-Chyddy Eleke writes that the Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State has started early preparation for the governorship position, which has eluded it in the past 16 years
nambra is regarded as a predominantly Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state, but the last time it smelt the governorship of the state was 16 years ago. As another election beckons in 2021, the party has begun mapping out strategies to reclaim the state, reports David-Chyddy Eleke.
That the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controls the biggest population in Anambra State is not in doubt. It is also a statement of fact that politics is a game of number, but what is in doubt is the ability of the party to deploy its number to its advantage in the state.
Since 2006, when the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi sacked Dr. Chris Ngige who was then a PDP governor, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has remained in power till date. Attempts by the PDP in previous elections to win back the Anambra Government House, through several other candidates had failed.
In 2007, the party tried to return to the seat of power with Senator Andy Uba as its candidate, but despite winning overwhelmingly in an election that was later declared to have been heavily rigged, it later failed. Though its candidate was sworn in, the court ruled that Obi who was just one year into his term had the right to complete his four-year mandate. This led to Uba being removed after 17 days as governor, giving the unenviable record as the state chief executive with the shortest reign in this political dispensation.
Again, in 2010, the party fielded Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as its candidate, and he ran against then Governor Peter Obi who was seeking a second term in office. The Soludo challenge was not successful. The failure of the party in that election was a bitter one because as acceptable and popular as Soludo was, he lost to Obi. The party’s loss then was attributed to two factors. The incumbency factor of the then governor, Obi and the infighting in the PDP, which was as a result of opposition by some big wigs, over the handing of the ticket of the party to Soludo who was then seen as a fresher in PDP. This pushed some aggrieved members to work against the party.
In 2013, the party, despite several meetings aimed at mending fences and pacifying some aggrieved people, still could not win the governorship position when it fielded Dr. Tony Nwoye. Nwoye was beaten by the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Willie Obiano. Yet again, the tussle in the party, occasioned by personal interests of some of the big wigs was fingered as being responsible for Nwoye’s loss. Nwoye had literarily been handed the party’s ticket by the national working committee of the party after a heated fight for it, leading to the disenchantment of most party members.
2017 was not also easy for the party. Despite a clean victory by a former UN diplomat, Mr Oseloka Obaze, in its primary election, it was still difficult to get all the stakeholders of the party to ne on the same page in order to defeat Chief Obiano who was seeking a second term. Obaze was then supported by former governor, Mr. Peter Obi who had moved out of the APGA and joined PDP. It was gathered that the grouse of most of the stakeholders was the seeming influence of Obi in the choice of who flies the party’s flag. Most of them felt that he was too young in the party to influence the choice of the governorship candidate.
As 2021 beckons, the party having weighed all of its problems and diagnosed it to be mostly internal, has resolved to start early to galvanize support and also set the tone of the laws that will guide it in the coming election, and also plugging the loopholes that caused its failure in Anambra governorship elections.
For example, within two months, the party has held stakeholders meeting in the state, twice. The first meeting was held in August. It was attended by all major stakeholders, including former governors, former ministers, former and serving federal legislators and past chairmen of the party.
The state party chairman, Mr Ndubuisi Nwobu who set the ball rolling during the meeting assured that the main essence of the meeting was to start early to make plans to win back the governorship position of the state in the governorship election scheduled to hold in 2021. He said there was need to begin early preparation to ensure that the problems that can rob it of the election were dealt with, and also to ensure that all of its members were mobilized under the same umbrella.
During the meeting, stakeholders of the party, including Senator Ben Obi, Senator Uche Ekwunife among others urged members who were desirous of contesting for the governorship position to begin early to seek support for the party. Senator Ben Obi in his address called on members of the party to join hands to raise resources for the party as leaving it to billionaires would mean bringing the party on its knees. Ekwunife on the other hand commended the members of the party for remaining steadfast, despite having been out of power for a long time, but urged all to rally round the party to bounce back again. She referred to Anambra as a PDP state.
In the second meeting which held in September, the party did not only reiterate its commitment to winning back the state. It went a step further to invite the South-east national vice chairman of the party, Mr. Austin Umahi to the meeting. In the meeting, state chairman of the party, Chief Nwobu told Umahi that the party was ready to win back the state, but solicited his support to ensure that the primary election was free of manipulation.
Nwobu said, “The party will not do any form of merchandising in the forthcoming election. All those interested in contesting the governorship election should go and seek the support of the people and not hope that they can induce the party to hand them the ticket on a platter of gold.
“Our zonal chairman, may I tell you that Anambra PDP is very easy to govern. I found out since I became the state chairman of the party. All you need to cage an Anambra man is to keep telling him the truth. As elections approach, I want to say that there will not be any form of merchandising during this election. The primary election of the party would be very transparent. “If you tell Anambra people the truth, they Are very easy to handle. Do not listen to people who will come with money because they need the ticket. What Anambra man does not like is one doing his wish and asking him, ‘what will you do?”
During the meeting tagged; ‘Putting Anambra State back into the Political track of the South-east’, some intending aspirants were given the chance to address the house and state their intention. The trio of Hon. Chris Azubogu, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo and Barr Emeka Etiaba declared their interest in the governorship seat, while Senator Uche Ekwunife who also addressed the meeting said she was still making consultations and would do so on a later date. Meanwhile, THISDAY gathered that other members of the party who plan to vie for the ticket of the party include; Mr. Osita Chidoka and Godwin Ezeemo, among others.
In his response, Umahi affirmed that he would not allow any money bag, no matter how big to hijack the party. The zonal chairman warned interested aspirants to resort to hard work rather than hoping to hijack the party to get its ticket.
He said, “We’re happy that Anambra PDP today is one family. There is no faction in the party in the state today, and I want to assure you that under my watch, no one man can hijack this party. My wish is that under my watch, Anambra will join PDP. I am not in doubt that you have the capacity to do this. You have people in Anambra who are capable, and the party in the state also has the resources. When we started working to win Imo State, I was always going to the state on a weekly basis, and it was like a joke, but today Imo is a PDP state. We hope that Anambra will be the fifth PDP state in the South-east, and when I am handing over, I will do so with happiness.”
Obviously, PDP in Anambra has the capacity to win the state, but its greatest problem has always been lack of unity. A member of the party who spoke to THISDAY once stated that no party in Nigeria can win the governorship position in the state if it does not receive the support of splinter members of PDP or black legs in the party who choose to work against its interest. He challenged this reporter to check all the past governorship elections. He said confidently that traces of PDP members working against the party would be found.
As 2021 governorship election closes in, it would be another opportunity to assess the party’s strength, especially if it is able to work together. One thing is sure, the transparency of the primary election process and the choice of who flies the party’s flag would determine the level of support the party gets from its teeming members.
Within two months, the party has held stakeholders meeting in the state, twice. The first meeting was held in August. It was attended by all major stakeholders, including former governors, former ministers, former and serving federal legislators and past chairmen of the party