• How parties’ primaries fuel discontents ahead of Nov. 6
• Saraki, Elumelu, Obaze congratulate Ozigbo, appeal to stakeholders
• Ngige, Moghalu, others kick, declare Uba’s emergence a nullity
It was a weekend of suspense in Anambra State when leading opposition parties, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) conducted primaries to pick candidates that will square up to the ruling party’s All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) flagbearer, Prof. Charles Soludo in the November 6 governorship polls.
With four months to go for the only off-season governorship election holding this year, Soludo, former Central Bank governor, had last Tuesday won APGA’s ticket charging the atmosphere ahead of Saturday’s primaries of the other two dominant parties, which went on into the early hours of yesterday.
The outcomes of the primaries confirmed bookmaker’s predictions that it would open a vista of discord and litigation in the political parties. Indeed, their outcomes are generating concerns as they are already being contested.
Chief Valentine Ozigbo and Chief Ugochukwu Uba emerged as governorship candidates from parallel primaries conducted in the state capital, Awka. Valentine Chineto Ozigbo, a former Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp Plc), secured 62 votes to emerge as the flagbearer of the PDP. Obiora Okonkwo scored a total of 58 votes to place second in the primary.
The exercise, which saw Ozigbo emerge as the flagbearer, is backed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. The result of the election was announced by Philip Shaibu, Deputy Governor of Edo State and secretary of the party’s electoral committee.
Shaibu had before the election disclosed that three aspirants including Emeka Etiaba and Tony Nwoye had announced their withdrawal from the primary voluntarily, adding that they were ready to support whoever emerged from it
Earlier, the Chris Uba-led faction had organised its primary election at the University of St. Paul, Awka, capital of the state. Ugochukwu Uba, a former senator, was elected governorship candidate of the primary conducted by the Anambra PDP faction.
The PDP had gone into the exercise amid a court order that sacked its state executive led by Chief Ndubisi Nwobu in place of Ejike Oguebego and the nullification of its elected three man-adhoc delegate, went further into crisis with the emergence of two governorship candidates.
A June 9 ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had sacked Nwobu and revalidated the leadership of Oguebego. When leaders of the party returned to the court on June 24, to ask for a restraining order, the court had refused to oblige them.
Rather, it had gone ahead to announce the nullification of the three man-adhoc delegate that emerged in the party for the conduct of the primary that held on Saturday. It was this development that prepared the ground for parallel primaries as each group stuck to their gun and the subsequent election of parallel candidates.
Former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has congratulated Ozigbo. In a statement signed on his behalf by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki also appealed to leaders of the PDP across the state to rally round the candidate so as to ensure victory for the party in the forth coming election.
Saraki noted that Ozigbo emerged from a keenly contested primary election and his emergence will definitely ruffle some feathers in some quarters. He urged the candidate to be magnanimous in victory and immediately commence reaching out to all his co-aspirants to ensure that they all work together as a team for the victory of the party in the gubernatorial election.
“I am further appealing to all our stakeholders in Anambra State that we should remember that this is a time we need to place the interest of the country, state and party above our individual interests. The party can only field one candidate despite the fact that as the foremost political platform in the state, all its aspirants are qualified and capable,” he said.
Also, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, has congratulated the ex-Transcorp boss on his emergence as the flagbearer of the PDP. The Minority Leader also congratulated other aspirants for their “exceptional display of spirit of sportsmanship, leading to the successful conduct of the primary.”
He said, “With the successful conduct of the primary and emergence of a winner, I charge all the aspirants and critical stakeholders of our party in Anambra to quickly come together and present a formidable common front that will lead our party to victory on November 6, 2021.”
Also in his congratulatory message, former PDP candidate in the 2017 Anambra governorship election, Chief Oseloka H. Obaze, has pledged his support to Ozigbo. “There is more work left to be done to capture Government House Awka, and reunite our great party ahead of the election. As a PDP stakeholder, I offer my full and unalloyed support to Val personally and the VCO team in the campaign ahead and in every effort to rebuild our party,” he said.
AT the APC end, confusion trailed the emergence of Senator Andy Uba as the candidate of the party. The Chairman of the APC primary election panel and Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, announced the outcome of the poll at Golden Tulip Hotel, Agulu Lake, Awka, early on Sunday.
The APC, since the exercise began, had maintained a level of sanity but it may have set its feet on the boil following the outcome of the primary in what is being bandied as “ghost primary”.
Abiodun said Uba emerged the winner with 230,201 votes while his closest rival, Johnbosco Onunkwo polled a total of 28,746 votes. He said 348,490, votes were cast in the primary election. He noted that the election committee adopted the open ballot mode also known as Option A4 to conduct the primary election.
Incidentally, Andy Uba is a brother to Anambra’s self-style godfather, Chief Chris Uba as well as Chief Ugochukwu Uba, winner of the factional PDP primary.
The Minister of Labour and Employment who spoke to journalists on the telephone said the primary election did not hold. He proposed June 29 for the election to hold.
Eleven aspirants out of the 14 governorship aspirants of the party had also on Saturday said the governorship primary did not hold.
The spokesperson for the aspirants, George Muoghalu, stated this at a press conference in Awka, the Anambra State capital.
Muoghalu, the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), said anybody who claimed that there was a primary was fraudulent and did not wish APC well in the November 6 election.
Muoghalu said in all the 326 electoral wards of the state, delegates came out to vote, but that none of the APC team in charge of conducting the primary and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials was seen. He appealed to the party’s leadership to come up with a fresh date for the primary to ensure that the party beat the deadline set by the Electoral Act.
A statement by the Publicity Secretary of APC in Anambra State, Okelo Madukaife, dissociated itself from the primary election.
The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to a set of figures circulating on the internet without signature or attribution and purported to be Anambra APC primary results.
“The figures do not belong to Anambra State APC Primary, which did not hold and for which we look forward to the Caretaker National Executive of our great party to choose a new date within INEC timetable. The leader of our great party in Anambra State and Minister of Labour & Employment, Sen (Dr.) Chris Ngige, has proposed Tuesday, June 29, for the primary to hold, and we recommend that it should be considered.”
Also, it is not yet uhuru in APGA despite the backing from the INEC that there are no factions in the party and that it supported the Victor Oye leadership of the party. The Oye leadership had last week produced Soludo as its governorship flag bearer.
A source stated that some of the aspirants that were disqualified without cogent reasons before the primary have appealed the development and may consider court actions should they party fail to handle the matter dispassionately.