As the Anambra 2021 gubernatorial election gradually approaches, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is already being ravaged by the antics of its multiple aspirants. The cut throat rivalries of these desperate contestants have grievous implications for the party.
This is akin to what happened to it in the 2017 governorship poll and previous elections in the state. Some of the PDP warlords are notorious political desperados who had in the past contested senatorial and gubernatorial polls in vicious manners, both in the elections proper and tribunals or regular courts.
This time around, those who want to fly the party’s gubernatorial flag next year include but not limited to; Mr. Chris Azubogu, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Chief Osita Chidoka, Senators Uche Ekwunife and Stella Oduah, Amb. Ike Oligbo, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, Dr. Godwin Maduka and Mr. Oseloka Obaze.
The apparent imposition of Oseloka Obaze on the party by a former APGA-made governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, in the 2017 election led to a rebellion by those who believed that they were cheated out in the primaries. The likes of Senators Oduah and Ifeanyi Ubah, (the latter is now a member of the Young Progressives Party, YPP), openly worked against Obaze, Mr. Obi’s preferred candidate in that election.
Today, the odds stacked against the PDP and the erstwhile governor are worse than the 2017 scenario. This time around, the party in Anambra state has due to the selfishness of a few powerful individuals jettisoned the zoning and rotation principle for the office of the governor. This is in spite of the fact that the formula is acceptable to most citizens of the state because it promotes justice, equity, fairness and good conscience. For this reason, virtually all federating units in Nigeria, except the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, (headed by federal government’s appointed ministers), are practicing zoning and rotation among their three senatorial districts with regard to the office of the governor after every eight years of the constitutionally permitted two tenures of state governors in the thirty six states of the federation.
With the flagrant repudiation of the formula by the PDP in Anambra state, the contest for its gubernatorial ticket in 2021, has become a rat race.
The people of Anambra South district are therefore not happy with the PDP for this act of dishonesty and inconsistency. They justifiably believe that it is their turn to produce the next governor of the state after Governor Willie Obiano’s second term in 2022.
After the incumbent governor’s tenure the North and Central districts would have separately occupied the exalted office for greater number of years than the South since the aborted Third Republic in 1993. Between 2003 and 2014, ex-governors Chris Ngige and Peter Obi from the Central district occupied the seat for a period of eleven years while by 2022, when Obiano who mounted the saddle in 2014 would complete his second term, the North district would have been on the seat for eight years.
Former governors Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Chinwoke Mbadinuju as well as accidental governors Virgie Etiaba and Andy Uba, all from the South district collectively served in a disjointed manner for about six years.
Conscious of this political reality, Senator Ekwunife, who had in the past represented the Anaocha-Njikoka-Dunukofia federal constituency in the House of Representatives and is presently occupying the seat of Anambra Central Senatorial District in the Red Chambers of the National Assembly, has suddenly realised that she is a native of Igboukwu but merely married to an Nri man from Anaocha local government area in Anambra Central. Igboukwu is in Aguata local government area in Anambra South district. Surely, many Ndi Anambra deprecate this type of unscrupulous political expediency and crass opportunism. But knowing the stuff she is made of, Uche Ekwunife would stubbornly insist on being made the standard bearer of the PDP in next year’s gubernatorial poll in Anambra state. She claims to be the most experienced grassroots politician among her peers. If she fails to clinch the ticket, Senator Ekwunife would characteristically defect to anoñther party to contest the election.
Given the political antecedence of Dr. Obiora Okonkwo and Chief Osita Chidoka, both from Idemili North local government area in the Central District, they would in spite of the zoning and rotation principle fight the primaries of the PDP “with the last drop of their blood”. If they lose out the duo might be compelled to cross carpet to other political parties in order to participate in the race. Osita Chidoka did exactly this in 2017, when he moved from the United Peoples Party, UPP to the Peoples Progressives Party, PPP in order to contest in the governorship election.
Dr. Godwin Maduka, a political neophyte, complete new comer and total stranger in the PDP and Anambra politics, who presently seems to be enjoying Peter Obi’s tacit support largely because of his touted capacity to single handedly fund his campaign would surely be resisted vehemently by his PDP rivals. Despite his purported stupendous wealth, core PDP faithful and other Anambra politicians do not regard Dr. Maduka as one of their own but a political opportunist.
Hon. Chris Azubogu is another of Obi’s protégés, who apart from the Ekwusigo-Nnewi North and South federal constituency cannot be helped electorally by the former Anambra governor who truly lacks a solid and reliable political structure of his own in the state. Obi actually treated genuine politicians in Anambra state with disdain throughout his eight years tenure as governor.
He does not really have a strong political structure. His allies are few politically lily livered technocrats who served in his cabinet during his reign as governor. Besides, Senator Ifeanyi Uba would be a very hard nut for Azubogu to crack in Nnewi.
In the final analysis, Obi would be unable to save the PDP from another imminent defeat by whoever would emerge as the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA in the 2021 Anambra state gubernatorial election. Unlike other political parties, APGA has well oiled and functional executives in all the 326 wards in the twenty one local government areas of Anambra state.
Political Historian writes from Onitsha.