Anambra’s Gubernatorial ‘Madness’ By Nkannebe Raymond

When I travelled to my Home state of Anambra some 2 months ago, I was startled at the level of preparation and permutation for the forthcoming Nov. 16 gubernatorial elections. As we alighted from the luxury bus at the famous upper- Iweka, without been told, your will come to terms with the reality that providence has sailed you into a land preparing to go to the polls to elect/select their principal state executive.
From the web of posters which littered the already dirty and refuse ridden upper iweka at every nook and crany to almost every billboard bearing the picture of one gubernatorial aspirant to the other, you will further be convinced that you have come into Anambra state where politics is nothing more but a do or die affair. As I was about alighting from the bus, my eyes were met with a sign post close to the famous G.U.O park with the insignia: ‘Keke Napep Riders Association Endorses Ifeanyi Ubah’- the poster bearing his warm and charming smiles makes you already wanting to vote for him but not until you have seen those of the likes of Uche Ekwuneife, Oseloka Obaze, Andy Uba, Chris Ngige, Charles Iwuanyawu, Charles Soludo, and the list may never end.
Was I pissed by the whole frenzy of almost everybody in my home state wanting to occupy the Amawbia Government House? Not really as it was not something new here. Almost everybody in the state seems to be just too overtly rich and always wanting to test their popularity when the bells of electoral positions chimes. And so as I boarded the mini bus from Orumba Park to my country home of Umunze in Orumba South local government area, I spent a whole of the one hour drive, looking at the posters, the aspiring candidates, the political party they will be contesting under and also the much touted achievement of the incumbent peter Obi’s administration. For one thing, it made the journey shorter and I got myself quite occupied even though my Blackberry device has since lived up to its bidding of very poor battery life (Users of that device will attest to this fact).
The three weeks holiday was spent on either drinking palm wine and dipping hands into some pot of Anu N’chi (grass cutter) or hanging out with friends who are interested in the political scene, deliberating and discussing as to who wins the gubernatorial race, but then, that is when I am not representing my dad on whose errand I was, at some traditional function, or burial ceremony.
The three weeks holiday soon ended, and if there is a lesson I learnt from my experience it is: that the forthcoming gubernatorial election will be worse than the previous one’s mired by political parties fielding double candidates, legal suits flying from one division of the high court to the other, and an overall election wrought in controversy, little wonder I am not surprise with the whole sordid and shameful tales oozing out from that part of the hinterland and hence the reason why we have dismissed it as a gubernatorial lunacy and dementia. Anambra politicians’ ronu!
From the political developments in the state starting from the moment the major players that will be contesting in the poll (PDP, APGA, APC and LP) in a bid to observe the sacred obligation of internal democracy moved to conduct primary elections which since the democratic dispensation of the state has been renowned for the notoriety of never being fair, to the present day, the political waters in the state has refused to be calm and the political atmosphere riddled every now and again with one political gimmick to the other all in a bid to score political points, indeed it is only sheer madness that captures it all. Umu Anambra Kedi ife n’eme anyi? What is wrong with us?
As I write, I am perplexed as to whether it has become some sort of ritual for political parties to be balkanized into different factions? And if you think it is in line with democracy and in the interest of this nascent ours, then you need to wake up from that slumber.
When the machinery of the law court becomes the arbiter of who should be the leader of one political party or the other, it shows the failure of a smooth system of internal democracy. For instance, Chief Tony Umeh and Co. had just returned from the court where they had gone to determine who is the authentic party chairman of Ojukwu’s last will-APGA, and despite the ruling of the court, Chief Maxi Okwu has refused to compromise. For some reasons, he still believes he is the bona fide party chairman and that Chike Obidigbo should be recognized as the party’s flag bearer as a federal High court sitting in Awka and presided over by one Justice Mohammed Shittu had maintained pending the determination of the suit arising from the primary election that saw William Obiano emerge as the party’s candidate. He is of the opinion that the primary election which saw William Obiano emerge as the other faction of the party’s candidate was a sham election and doesn’t represent the votes of the delegates.
In the so-called real faction of APGA headed by Chief Tony Umeh, controversy has been the order of the day even though it has been tried to be made obscure at all cost. For crying out loud, I still do not see why Obiano should emerge as the party’s flag bearer. To start with, I never saw his poster anywhere around the many parts of the state I was able to cover during my holiday stint and all through my deliberations, with party stalwarts at the local level, nobody ever mentioned his name much less think he would ever surface, but much to my consternation we were told that he has emerged the party’s candidate after getting involved in the whole electoral maze just two weeks before the primaries and at the same time, commanding a staggering 862 votes of the delegates in an election which is now being contested in the courts. Wasn’t democracy meant to be about one’s popularity among the masses who wield the knife and the Yam in a democratic setting? How then is it that a person who is better known within the precincts of a banking hall and not in the famous Onitsha main market, Nkwo Nnewi, Ekwulobia, Ogidi and other major towns in the state (whose votes determines who takes the day), now became the party’s flag bearer? What happened to the Soludos, Obazes, Ekwunifes, the idigos and Co. whose popularity transcends beyond the bank of the river Niger and far into other climes? Of course, they were disqualified in controversial circumstances to pave the way for the man who was so busy in the banking hall and so hadn’t all the time to be caught up in the media frenzy. Obiano may today pride himself as the APGA gubernatorial candidate for the Nov.16th election but he must be told that even the most illiterate spare part dealer at Nnewi and his friends at the Onitsha Main market to this day, still believe that he- Obiano is not popular among the masses and have long read and interpreted the handwriting on the wall.
Whether obi and his cronies were trying to fulfill his viva-voce or parol promise to handover to someone from the Northern senatorial district of the state or otherwise, he owe us some explanation or else we dispatch providence to get them for us.
As it stands, APGA as far as I am concerned, has not fielded a gubernatorial candidate for the Nov.16 polls, not when Maxi Okwu is raining fire and brimstone and running from pillar to post to tell us and anybody who cares to listen, how the internal mechanism that ushered Obiano was prostituted by irregularities and how he and Chike Obidigbo should be seen and recognized as the party’s National Chairman and candidate respectively for the forthcoming election. The scenario speaks volume of how, Anambra still hasn’t gotten it right at electing her leaders after the orgy scenarios of Ngige, Andy Uba, Etiaba and Co. which at many points were resolved at an election tribunal. In fact, at a time, a sitting governor was kidnapped in the state despite been the chief security officer. Welcome to Anambra state!
But if you think the APGA camp is a mess, then you must be in for a bumpy ride. One can only conclude to that effect, when they haven’t lent ears to the horrible ‘gossips’ that has emanated from the PDP camp. Two different primary elections were conducted, fielding two different candidates. The Ejike Oguebego faction, had before now, said we should give no heed to the Ken Emeakayi camp who thinks and believes that Tony Nwoye, (a former medical student who was thrown out in his first year by the authorities of the University of Nigeria Nsukka) is the party’s flag bearer and proclaimed winner of the other parallel primary election that was supervised by PDP officials from Abuja.
As if that was not enough, the Ejike Oguebego parallel faction of the PDP had purportedly said; that the Emeakayi camp must have been sipping too much of alcohol to think that Tony Nwoye is the true candidate and hence shouldn’t been taken serious but rather that we should accept Senator Andy Uba the Man whom I see as the Abraham Lincoln of Anambra politics, judging from his misfortunes at various elections the height of his wealth notwithstanding. In fact, the current senatorial seat he occupies wouldn’t have been but for heated legal suits and series of wuru-wuru or mago-mago that must have taken place behind the scene. In him I see a man who has refused to say No, even when his chi has said so just like Okonkwo in Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart.’ One way or another, he seems to have some unfinished business at the Amawbia Government House after spending a laughable seventeen days in office before the court sent him packing way back in 2007.
The resultant effect is a series of law suits flying from left, right and center as I had earlier predicted with lawyers having a field day, filling motions, from one division of the High court to the other and re-appealing judicial judgments which doesn’t translate in their favor. Even the judges are caught up in the whole melo-drama. Today they pass one ruling and after series of lobbying from the other camp, they quash same-I will prove this point a little further.
Justice H.A Nganjiwa of the federal high court sitting in port-Harcourt had on August 27th upon a motion filed by the Oguebego led PDP faction on behalf of himself and others in his faction ordered the PDP and INEC to recognize the winner of the primaries conducted by the his faction, as the genuine candidate of the party which produced senator Andy Uba. While members faithful to the Oguebego camp were still savoring the victory of the court order, the same court vacated its previous order on the 4th of September and endorsed Mr. Tony Nwoye, who emerged from the Emeakayi led mainstream PDP and yesterday, just as I was about putting pen to paper, information filtered through that a federal High court sitting in the same Portharcourt has voided the candidacy of Mr. Tony Nwoye of the Ken Emeakayi faction of the PDP.
In a suit filed by one of the governorship aspirants of the PDP, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu through his counsel, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN) which sought the leave of the court to invalidate and void Nwoye’s candidacy as declared by the PDP and accepted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). the learned Justice S.A Aliyu, haven heard the motion, okayed same before directing and compelling INEC to recognize prince Nicholas Ukachukwu as the bona fide candidate of the party haven scored the highest number of votes cast at the election and based his ratio decidendi on paragraph 4(a) of part iv of the electoral guidelines for primary elections 2010 of the PDP and ruled that Mr. Tony Nwoye, was ab-initio not eligible to have taken part in that electoral process.
Am I not yet vindicated enough for referring to the whole process as a crass neglect of the modus operandi of electioneering and hence why it must be seen as a theatre of madness? While you give that a thought, how about we take a ride into the ‘holier-than-thou’ camp of the APC?
While the newly merged APC had earlier presented its hit man, Dr. Chris Ngige as the consensus candidate, it didn’t go down without generating pockets of opposition and backlashes from elements within the party. In a supposedly manner of wanting to promote accountability and keep her records clean by ensuring smooth internal democracy, the party moved to quell the tempers of the likes of Chief Godwin Ezeemo and senator Annie Okonkwo by conducting a primary election in order to portray itself in the positive light and not shooting itself in the foot by setting a bad precedent for the newly merged party that has continued to parade itself as everything from ‘holiness’ to sainthood and the antidote to all of Nigeria’s problem even when it is crystal clear that they are nothing more but an Old wine in new wine skin, which cannot lose its sour taste. And if you think I got a thing against APC by those words, then you are just so on your own.
Yes, a primary election was held but just like those of their counterparts was it a fair one? I hate to run into conclusions inductively but with an election that saw Chief Godwin Ezeemo popular as he is with a meager 9,564 votes out of a total of over 73,000 votes casted, with the rest going to the self-acclaimed political wizard-Dr. Chris Ngige, one cannot help but conclude that the result of that process, was a doctored account, Ngige’s popularity notwithstanding. In a nutshell, it is the same drumbeats being sounded; the only difference is that, the dancers have chosen to give different dancing steps to it. These electorates are now a lot wiser.
As for ifeanyi Ubah, the capital Oil maestro, he may have gotten the unanimous veto from his Labour Party(LP) but elections in a sane democracy, are won with well patterned and incisive party manifestos and not with bags of salt, motorcycles and tricycles, disbursement of free petroleum products, bags of salt, piece of wrappers and wads of mint currencies just to win the votes of poor electorates whose meager financial status has made them so gullible as not to resist those awoofs as they say in our local dialect.
All said and done, as the race to Amawbia government house draws nigh and gets hotter, it is only a politically naïve fellow with nadir foresightedness, that will not see at this moment that this election will barely reflect the choice of the electorates.
If within the party circle, it has been difficult if not impossible to field one candidate without haven to be at the mercy of judicial determination, then let me out of this fool’s paradise. Were we not told that he who cannot be trusted with little things cannot be trusted with greater things? And if you think that come Nov.16 the arbiter will shift from the party cabals to INEC, then you must be the only one who doesn’t know that INEC has also been complicit in this internal squabbles of the various political parties.
If you think we have seen enough, then you must know that we are just getting started. The tip of the iceberg is only about getting ready to be scratched. We shall be seeing more between November 16th and 18th but then that is if the election date is not postponed by the electoral body with the recent goings-on.
Election petition tribunals should get ready to start seating because if men have chosen to use the green wood like this one is miffed and obfuscated as to what will happen when it is dry. If at the primary level, the courts have entertained close to ten suits I wonder what will happen when the good people of Anambra state finally vacate their offices, houses, and stalls as they go to the polls come November 16?. This madness has got to stop. Anambra can do better.
The writer is Law student, a public affairs commentator and an academic freelancer. He is on twitter as @yung_silky.