Battle Rages For Coalitions
Here is how things stand regarding the election environment in Anambra State: Strong contenders are working behind the scene to enlarge their coalitions, fine-tuning strategies for a roll out of campaigns.
And, as the gladiators gird their loins for the ultimate showdown, it is apparent that all eyes are trained at October 7, 2021. That is the date set aside by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the final list of candidates to partake in the November 6 gubernatorial ballot as specified in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election.
As the time of filing this report, the following standard bearers were found to be engaged in hyperactivities for coalitions and expansion of their support bases: Senator Andy Emmanuel Ubah, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, Valentine Odigbo and Ben Etiaba.
Senator Ifeanyi Ubah and embattled Prof. Chukwuma Soludo are stand-alone candidates that want to do their thing their own ways. While Soludo has been confronted with never-ending litigations and attacks over his condescending utterances, Senator Ubah has taken his campaigns beyond the shores of Nigeria, targeting the huge Anambra Diaspora population with his OpenDoor Revolution.
Uba Versus Dikeora
THESE two standard bearers of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP)-Senator Andy Uba and Dr. Obiora Okonkwo (Dikeora), are puling their weights as old time political levers.
Right from his days as Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Domestic Matters, Uba, who enjoyed two terms at the Nigeria’s Senate, has affected the political and economic lives of a number of Anambra people.
Taciturn and adept at working behind the scenes, Uba, popularly called Ugwumba, has, since emerging from the controversial APC governorship primary, been engineering the defection of prominent stakeholders from the All Progressives Grand Alliance and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The roll call so far, shows that the movement of Senator Joy Emordi, a former member of PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) and the recent defection of incumbent representative of Anambra North in the Senate, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, are traceable to Uba’s workings.
The Guardian gathered that in the coming week, two lawmakers in the House of Representatives and five others in the state House of Assembly would cross over to APC to demonstrate Uba’s claim before APC national leaders that all he needed was just the party’s ticket to become the next governor of Anambra State.
Sources also confided in The Guardian that the intriguing legal knots that have turned the governing APGA as a wounded giant have the imprimatur of the they call Igwebuike and hails from Uga, Aguata Local Council of the state.
Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, who turned out as Lion killer in the infamous legal gymnastics that wrestled Prof. Soludo down and out of INEC’s initial list of recognised governorship candidates, is one of the young men Senator propelled politically.
Riding on Uba’s coattails, Umeoji made it first to the House of Representatives, before joining APGA to net another term at the Green Chambers. After an extensive survey, it was found that Prof. Soludo and Obiora Okonkwo were possible candidates that could make things tough in the Anambra governorship.
Acting on that intelligence, it was said that Uba engineered a system that would roil both APGA, on which platform Soludo was aspiring and PDP, where Obiora was the perceived front-runner.
“The litigations that ruffled APGA and PDP, before and during their governorship primaries were the fall outs of that extensive study,” said a knowledgeable source in Anambra politics.
The fact that some of the well known election ‘fieldmarshals’, like the former Secretary to the Anambra State Government (SSG), Chief Osi Ezenwa and Ozo Sam Osita Oraegbunam, are now waving the broom in support of Senator Andy Uba, shows that the November 6 poll would be an interest showdown in the annals of Anambra State politics.
For High Chief, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Dikeora Idemmili, it is said that there is no politician of repute from Anambra State, who has not benefited from the magnanimity and humanism of the Russian-trained Political Economist.
Reputed to have amassed his fabulous wealth from steel importation and distribution across West and East Africa, Okonkwo, who recently added the United Nigeria Airlines to the list of his business concerns, had been assisting politicians with campaign funds right from the days of the days of Dr. Chris Ngige through Peter Obi and others.
Prior to the June 26 PDP governorship primary, party faithful saw Dikeora as PDP’s possible winning mascot. Energised by the popular acclaim and enjoying the returns on his past goodwill gestures, the chairman of United Airlines campaigned across the 21 local government councils of the state as if he was already headed for the main poll.
It was perhaps consequent upon that popular acclaim that no sooner had the parallel primary produced the immediate past President and Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Plc than fresh grumbling set in within PDP. To make matters worse, Okonkwo queried the process, tasking the organisers of the primary to explain the whereabouts of 17 delegates votes he said were part of his winning votes.
He also picked holes in the decision of the chairman of Governorship Primary Committee, Governor Samuel Ortom’s sudden exclusion from the announcement of votes tally after collation. Based on the disclosure that Ortom, a born-again Christian, bolted out of the process when he noticed some hanky-panky, Okonkwo’s supporters were said to have pressured him to remain in the governorship contest on another platform.
Having emerged as standard bearer of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Okonkwo, who has been selling his candidacy right from the word go as Maka Ilu Oluoma (coming for good deeds), found a kindred spirit in the ZLP.
It was gathered that the recent mass resignation of stakeholders from the PDP Governorship Campaign was partly as a form of protest against the governorship primary and mischief against Obiora Okonkwo.
Leveraging on the Save Anambra Coalition (SAVANC), which comprises former APGA and PDP stalwarts, the ZLP standardbearer has been recalibrating his campaign structures to ensure inclusiveness.
Chief Kelue Anierobi, told The Guardian that the “Save Anambra Coalition came as a bulwark against the shenanigans of political jobbers and winnable godfathers that want to trade with the future of Anambra people.”
He said that key players in the coalition believe that Dr. Obiora Okonkwo was the most credible option in the election, stressing that they came to the conclusion that APGA and PDP’s participation could amount to waste of time and resources due to the defective nature of their nomination process.
He stated: “Our decision to align with Okonkwo in the coalition on ZLP has been strengthened by public apprehensions our former parties do not have valid candidates and may have reached their dead ends.
“Key members of APC, PDP and APGA campaign councils have been holding meetings with the ZLP and the coalition candidate, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo. We are convinced that PDP, APGA and APC do not have validly nominated candidates for the election.”
Anierobi, however, hinted that while some stakeholders are willing to announce their decision to align with ZLP, others preferred to stay back in their respective parities and work from within to pool support for ZLP and Okonkwo on the coalition arrangement.
Spokesperson of ZLP Governorship Campaign Council, Afam Dozie Ofomata, explained that the strategic positioning is in line with the agreement earlier reached by stakeholders across party lines to support Dr. Obiora Okonkwo as coalition candidate on ZLP platform.
SHOCKED by the plethora of disclaimers to the membership of PDP Governorship Campaign Council, the party’s preferred rival candidate, Val Ozigbo, launched an open letter, pleading for understanding of party stakeholders.
In the letter titled, ‘Our Determined Walk to Agu Awka: Updates and the Way Forward,’ Ozigbo assured PDP faithful: “We are strong, we are ready and united. I am confident that we will all join hands in unity towards a purpose greater than one person, and it will end in PDP singing victory songs in November. Together, we are unmatched, we are unstoppable, and we are inevitable.”
The embattled PDP candidate explained that contrary to insinuations, he consulted wildly before embarking on his governorship quest, stressing that while the list of members was making the rounds on the social media, he was yet to round up personal consultation with those involved.
While apologising his party men and women for rescheduling the pre-campaign flag-off and delays, Ozigbo declared: “I find it necessary to clear the air on recent statements by a few of our party leaders, alleging a lack of consultations before the inauguration of our State PDP Governorship Campaign Council on Sunday, August 15, 2021.
“I consulted with some of them personally, while some of our party leaders closer to them consulted with some others. Multiple consultations were held with the majority of them, some more than five times, in some instances, with witnesses of their choosing. I have personally made a great effort to meet the demands put forward by everyone.”