A huge political tension has developed in Anambra State over a deal struck between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan to impose Senator Andy Uba as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party as well as the next governor of Anambra.
Several sources in Abuja and within Anambra State said that Mr. Obasanjo was one of the architects of the plan to make Mr. Uba governor. A PDP executive in Abuja disclosed that the Uba deal was one of the conditions given by former President Obasanjo to settle a rift between him and Mr. Jonathan.
In addition, Mr. Jonathan has told his associates that he needs Mr. Uba in control of Anambra in order to guarantee him a landslide victory in the state come the 2015 presidential election. “The president wants to ensure that he carries Anambra and other southeast states,” said a source. “That’s why he needs Chief Uba to be in charge.”
Mr. Jonathan’s administration has been under fire from former President Obasanjo, who has expressed dissatisfaction with the incumbent president’s performance. Mr. Obasanjo has also told his associates that he was seriously considering the option of backing a northern candidate to run against Mr. Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election.
“I can tell you that nothing scares President Jonathan more than Chief Obasanjo’s ability to marshal forces, within Nigeria and abroad, against him,” said a source who is close to the current president. “He has been so jittery ever since Baba [Obasanjo] started launching his attacks. That’s why he quickly agreed when Chief Obasanjo told him that Andy must become the new governor of Anambra.”
Many top political sources within the PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) told SaharaReporters that President Jonathan has enlisted the hierarchy of both parties in the scheme to put Mr. Uba into the governor’s seat in Anambra by hook or crook. In meetings with Governor Obi and other PDP and APGA interests, Mr. Jonathan instructed that all steps be taken to ensure that Mr. Uba’s enthronement as the next governor becomes a success.
But the plan is being stoutly resisted, according to a spokesman for a coalition of interests from across different political parties, including PDP members. “Obasanjo couldn’t help his daughter carry his own polling station in Ogun State, but he thinks he can choose who will be our governor in Anambra,” said the man, who in a telephone conversation declared that his anti-Uba coalition was confident of resisting both Obasanjo and Jonathan. “Our people voted solidly for President Jonathan in 2011. Yet, instead of treating us with the respect we deserve, he sits in Abuja and wants to dictate who will rule us. Their evil scheme will fail.”
According to several of our sources, the recent upheaval in APGA was part of the plot to clear the way for Mr. Uba to coast to the governorship. Last week, APGA announced the disqualification of Charles Soludo, a former Central Bank Governor, Oseloka Obaze, an erstwhile top aide to Governor Peter Obi, as well as other key governorship contenders. “The [disqualifications] were part and parcel of a deal to ensure that Chief Andy Uba becomes the next person to rule Anambra,” said a longtime member of APGA.
Several sources revealed that Governor Obi was previously interested in supporting either Mr. Obaze, a lawyer and retired employee of the United Nations, or former banker, Willie Obiano, to succeed him. SaharaReporters also gathered that APGA chairman, Victor Umeh, once backed Mr. Soludo for the governorship. A source said the former CBN governor, who recently resigned from the PDP and registered as a member of APGA, had provided substantial cash to Mr. Umeh to help run the party.
However, both Mr. Soludo and Mr. Obaze became casualties of President Jonathan’s decision to appease Obasanjo as well as position a dependable ally in Anambra. Several sources revealed that Mr. Jonathan and his associates felt that neither Mr. Soludo nor Mr. Obaze could be fully trusted to help him in 2015. In addition, Mr. Jonathan and his team dread the prospects of Senator Chris Ngige winning Government House, Awka. A few days ago, Mr. Ngige emerged the APC’s governorship candidate in a controversial congress that some party members described as undemocratic.
According to some sources, President Jonathan persuaded Governor Obi to abandon Obaze, his primary choice as successor. SaharaReporters learned that the Presidency also paid a huge sum of money to APGA chairman, Umeh, to persuade him to back away from Mr. Soludo.
A source close to Mr. Obi revealed that the Anambra governor was “taken by surprise and is very unhappy” with the president’s advocacy for Mr. Uba. “He [Obi] wanted either Obaze or Chief Willie Obiano, but what can he do once the president has spoken?”
Of all the serious APGA aspirants, only Mr. Obiano, a respected former banking executive, survived the purge that swept away Mr. Soludo and Mr. Obaze. A source in APGA told SaharaReporters that the Presidency perhaps spared Mr. Obiano because they saw him as a political push-over who would be easily rigged out by the PDP machinery. But the source added that both Mr. Obiano and Mr. Ngige would beat Mr. Uba in any free-and-fair contest in Anambra.
One of the members of the emerging anti-Uba group told SaharaReporters that the PDP would have had an uphill task winning an election in Anambra even with a good candidate. “But when it becomes clear to our [Anambra] people that Obasanjo and Jonathan are engineering Andy as our next governor, more of our people will rise in stout opposition.”
A PDP member of the coalition vowed that the people of Anambra were tired of what he called “the politics of imposition.” “Don’t forget that Chief Andy Uba did not even win senatorial election. We all know that the seat he has in the Senate truly belongs to [Nicholas] Ukachukwu. I can assure you that our people still remember the role Chief Uba and Eselu [Mr. Uba’s younger brother, Chris Uba] played to destroy Anambra when Obasanjo was president. We won’t allow a partnership of Ogboni members to treat us like boy-boys,” he said.
A source within APGA told SaharaReporters that the blame for what is happening should go to Mr. Obi. “The governor disappointed us and our late leader and father, Ikemba Nnewi [Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu] when he effectively turned APGA into a branch of the PDP and an arm of the Presidency.”
Several PDP members said that party officials had directly or indirectly told major governorship aspirants within their fold not to waste their money and time. “We were told not to bother spending our money, that the [governorship] ticket will be delivered to Dr. Andy Uba,” said a source who said he was mulling a run for the post. He added that other aspirants like Nicholas Ukachukwu and Annie Okonkwo had received the same message.
“Is this democracy that we are seeing in our country?” the source questioned. “Our party says nobody should run again except Andy. And the oppositions are doing the same thing. Dr. Ngige was just announced like that, without following any real democratic way.”
The source said he had heard of the group mobilizing to fight against the imposition of Mr. Uba, but said he was not a member. Asked if he would campaign for Mr. Uba, the source spoke angrily. “If they impose him, why then should I fight for him? Let those who imposed him come and fight for him.”
Source: Sahara Reporters