Democracy, despite its known short- comings, has numerous positives. One of such positives is the liberty it offers all to freely air their opinions. Such was the liberty taken by Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu in his ‘Anambra Governorship: PDP has no chance going South’ article published in the January 21, 2021, issue of Daily Sun.
To an undiscerning person, Uchegbu’s argument seemed somewhat sensible. His intervention is, however, hobbled by either obvious ignorance or deliberate attempt to disavow interplaying factors that will largely determine the success of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) or indeed any other political party genuinely interested in winning Anambra 2021 gubernatorial election.
In advancing his ideas, which he clearly has rights to, Uchegbu conveniently forgot that while PDP did not openly premise its 2013 campaigns on zoning, it worked internally to ensure its candidate emerged from Anambra North senatorial zone, an election the party lost because of the internal war of attrition PDP found itself to be fighting at the time. PDP also repeated the zoning formula in 2017, this time the All Progressives Congress (APC) followed suit.
The author rightly acknowledged that allthe major political parties are today angling to pick their respective candidates from Anambra South senatorial zone.
There is a good reason for this. But the author was not interested in examining any of it, and he made an attempt to portray himself as the bastion of all political knowledge. I wish he were humble in his approach, he would not have haughtily discarded the wisdom of the party that consecutively won the last four gubernatorial elections in the state and that of the party that came second in the last.
Using conjectures and innuendos, Uchegbu laboured so hard, although unsuccessfully, to repudiate a popular consensus. There is no doubt in the mind of any Anambra voter which zone is to produce the next governor. For context, when democracy was restored in 1999, Anambra South, in Dr. Chinweoke Mbadinuju, took the first jab. Mbadinuju served for a period of fours year before power shifted to Anambra Central. The zone, through the successive administrations of Dr. Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi, held power for more than a decade, after which the state, by the virtue of popular understanding, agreed to shift power to Anambra North.
By March 2022, when the tenure of the incumbent governor will elapse, Anambra North would have completed its eight years in the saddle.
The voting public knows this already. They also understand the need for equity, fairness, and the need to have less rancorous elections. That explains why public opinion has understandably tilted towards Anambra South. The people of the zone are excited at this opportunity and are now presenting ably qualified aspirants to all the leading political parties.
From the look of things, Anambra South is enjoying the primacy of support from both stakeholders and the masses across the length and breadth of the state. As at today, no other serious political party is discussing which zone it will pick its candidate from – that has been long settled. Yet, there must be a Judas in every 12. A few individuals, knowing that their aspirations run afoul of popular consensus, are hanging by the side, hoping to deploy high-sounding illogic, such as Uchegbu’s piece, to sway the PDP hierarchy to spurn wisdom, and, in-so-doing, throw itself under the bus.
To these people and just a handful of others recruited to worship at the altar of their inordinate ambitions, no attention whatsoever should be paid to the legitimate yearnings and collective understanding of Anambra people.
Uchegbu’s goal of attempting to dissuade the PDP from picking its candidate from the pool of resourceful aspirants from Anambra South was largely betrayed by inconsistent messaging.
To be sure, Uchegbu’s task was not an easy one. It is difficult to convince a group of 11-year-olds, talk more of a party full of discerning people like the PDP, to discard zoning because it is an “internal policy of APGA,” while at the same time making a case for the PDP to literarily zone the same election to Anambra Central senatorial zone.
Though his article partially pretended about it, Uchegbu clearly has no issues with zoning. If there is anything to be gleaned from his work, it is that he is, in fact, an avid supporter of zoning. The snag, however, is that he aspires to be the person that gets to solely decide which part of the state PDP zones its governorship ticket to. The feeble conjectures Uchegbu called up, outside of being overly simplistic, are not convincing enough to sustain his argument that the governorship of Anambra State be zoned, perhaps in perpetuity, to the senatorial zone of his choice.
Whatever the motivation for Uchegbu’s disregard of equity, fair play and attempted disavowal of public consensus is, it is hard to agree with his apparent conclusion that Anambra Central is perhaps the only part of the state where men and women with the “ability to lead” creditably can be found. Uchegbu is no doubt a gifted writer, but his being clever by half in not pointedly declaring the unmissable conclusion of his piece is not easy to miss.
Uchegbu’s message may have retained an air of credibility had he stayed true to his opening salvo of preaching merit and competence. By delving into what he wishes will pass as in-depth analysis in making a case for the party to zone Anambra 2021 to Anambra Central, Uchegbu showed his hands. If there were doubts as to what his motivations were, those “analyses” erased them all.
It is arguments like this that put a strain on the fabrics of unity. There’s a whole body of illogic needed to sustain Uchegbu’s kind of argument. Perhaps this explains why he employed all manner of vaunting extrapolations, contradictory premises and careless, yet deliberate, misinterpretation of data to achieve his aim.
The incongruence of his piece should be pardoned. Even renowned Achebe, with all his writing prowess, could not have made sense attempting to stand logic on its head like this. If anything, the author should be commended for trying so hard and then excused for failing so woefully.
If Anambra PDP were to be warned against what the author called “suicidal” tendencies, it shouldn’t be about zoning. It should be about the in-fighting and sellouts that have repeatedly become the albatross of Anambra PDP, even in elections it was clearly poised to win.
But Uchegbu is not entirely wrong. If the strictest emphasis is placed on zoning, it could throw up people who are less than qualified for the job. That is why the PDP should be encouraged to make the processes competitive and transparent so the best and most competent candidate will emerge from the pool of individuals Anambra South is presenting.
Also, as the author rightly alludes, APGA is now struggling for balance and relevance, no thanks to Governor Willie Obiano running so fast in reverse gear. But zoning sentiment is very strong across the state. PDP has never had a better chance than now. It should thread cautiously, the resurrection of APGA may be helped by PDP, if it fails to pluck this low-hanging fruit before it.
•Ogbonna is a political analyst who lives and works in Awka, capital of Anambra State