Anambra APC ‘tying loose ends’ before guber race
As aspirants jostle to become candidates of their various political parties in the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State, one hurdle which the All Progressives Congress (APC) must overcome, is the process of selecting a candidate among the numerous contenders in a way that will not cause disaffection in the party.
And with the primary elections scheduled for next month approaching, there are strong indications that pressure is mounting on the national leadership of the party to ensure a rancour-free exercise.
This is gaining more weight following the various meetings summoned by the Chief Jim Nwobodo-led Anambra 2017 election committee set up by the national leadership of the party.
At the last count, 14 persons have indicated interest to run the governorship race. They are the National Auditor of the party, Chief George Muoghalu, Chief Barth Nwibe, Mr Obinna Okonkwo, Chief Paul Chukwuma, Dr Chike Obidigbo, Chief Raph Okeke, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, Chief Tony Nwoye, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, Sen. Andy Ubah, Chief Obinna Uzor, Prince Donatus Okonkwo and lately Charles Odedo.
Although majority in the list are being classified as either pretenders or spoilers, reportedly recruited to undermine chances of others or seeking recognition and contracts, the party on the other hand is treating every aspirant as capable of winning hence the arduous task to narrow the list.
Nwobodo, who is the former governor of old Anambra, stopped short of confirming his committee’s challenge on where to begin to access the kind of candidate for the party recently, when he told reporters that the problem was that “all the aspirants are qualified and capable of winning the 2017 governorship election in the state if given the opportunity.”
He had said during an in-house screening of the aspirants convened at his Amechi Uwani country home, Enugu on June 7, that the party was confronted with one of the biggest challenges ever, because the programmes which each of the aspirants have put together, were capable of taking the state to the next level.
According to Nwobodo, “We have asked questions on the programmes and agenda they set for themselves and we are happy and convinced that they were well thought out and each of the aspirants have defended them well; that is the big problem. We took them individually on why they are aspiring to be governor and they convinced us on their plans.
“Nonetheless, all of them cannot be governor at the same time. So we are trying to bond them, make them feel they are brothers, let them understand that only one of them can be governor at a time, make them feel that they need to work together and ensure the victory of the party in the election. So we are working hard to ensure that loose ends are tidied up before we go into primaries proper.”
Although Nwobodo advised the aspirants to cooperate, assuring that “we will not impose any candidate on the party,” what looks like a feeling of rage allegedly exists among the aspirants. This is as a result of the alleged push by some old members aspiring for the governorship slot to be nominated as party’s flag bearer.
They are said to be using their contacts and connections to insist that those who started with the party should be given opportunity to run and not the new comers.A source stated that the impression being given to the party leadership is that those who jumped into the party after the 2015 general elections have not known the rudiments of the APC and would in the same manner, jump out some day should the party fail to meet their aspirations, which basically lies in acquisition of political power and contracts.
It was gathered that those fanning the idea have further asked the national leadership to consider same in line with the tradition of the party to always reward “those who worked for the party irrespective of the resources those coming in may have at their disposal.”
One of the aspirants, Nwibe told The Guardian, “For me, the serious aspirants are those members who had been with the party before the presidential election. I believe someone must have character, belief and conviction in something. To me it is offensive to be jumping from one political party to another, and then begin to elbow those you meet there that you want to run for governor. I think it should be for those who believe in the change from the beginning. Those who are just coming, would wait, tarry a while to understudy and learn the rudiments of how our party functions before stepping forward to run for any elective office.”
Another aspirant who felt it would breed disharmony in the state said on condition of anonymity, “Those clamouring for the emergence of aspirants who have been with the party for a long time, are not in tune with realities. It is not about how long but how far. You don’t foist on a party, a person who does not have capacity to win an election because he or she has been with a political party for a long time. We have subjected ourselves to the scrutiny of the party; we know why we want political power and why we indicated interest to run. Let the outcome of the primaries rule and not one that is manipulated against some persons in favour of others.”
State chairman of the party, Emeka Ibeh however re-echoed that they “will give all aspirants equal playing ground.” Adding, “There is no special candidate,” he stressed the need for all to play the game according to the rule so as to entrench the party firmly in the state.
Meanwhile, as the debate on how to resolve the issue continues, another worry for the party is the rising profile the United Progressives Party (UPP) has acquired since former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka joined it to contest the governorship election.
The UPP, which is making its first political foray into the state, appears set to give any party and its candidate the run for their money in the poll with other quality aspirants including former two-term House of Representatives member, Chudi Ofordile, Human Rights activist, Dr Ifeanyi Okonkwo, Prince Ifeanyi Ezechukwu, Nze Ugonadi Onwuka; Ejike Okafor Obumeneke; and Mr Paul Chukwudi Obianaso among others that assembled in its fold.
To demonstrate the readiness of the party, last week, its national convention was held at the state’s capital, Awka, where it clearly announced that it was not into the contest for fun. At the occasion which was also used to unveil the party’s eight governorship aspirants (the second party with largest aspirants), the UPP had unanimously adopted Self Determination, True Federalism, Devolution of Power, Resource Control, Referendum, State Police/Community Policing, Citizenship Rights among others as part of its manifesto. It stated that these were in conformity with the yearnings of the people but avoided by other political parties.
Until the UPP convention, APC’s only known opponent in the election was the crisis-ridden All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). It had hoped to capitalize on the festering crisis that has currently thrown up two persons claiming leadership of the party, to capture the state as a sign of its readiness to win in other states of the Southeast zone in 2019. This is based on the assumption that the crisis that has also divided the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the national level may not be resolved until the end of the election.
A school of thought believes however, that the present ugly situation of leading political parties in the state and the incumbency factor at the national level give the APC ample opportunity to win the 2017 governorship election. They added however that this would depend on the ability of the party to foster a united front to prosecute the campaign.
But immediate past National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh believes that APGA has a pact with the people of the state and that no amount of crisis will truncate the programme of the Obiano administration.
He told The Guardian in an interview, “APGA is not new to crisis or orders and injunctions from court. One thing that you will not remove from the party is that while its cases go on in court, the party continues to win elections. The governorship election coming up in Anambra in November will not be an exception. So all those capitalizing on the present court order against the leadership of the party to start laying claims, should rethink their strategy because, it has nothing to do with the candidature and determination of the party to continue to rule Anambra state.
“We will certainly settle whatever differences that we have now. The good thing is that Obiano’s candidature is not in contest and he has served the people of the state very well in the last three years. So we are looking forward to having him back on November 18.”
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