Senator Andy Uba, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the November 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, may have a hand in the gale of defections that has depleted the opposition parties in favour of the ruling APC.
The major political parties in Anambra State; the All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are experiencing an enduring season of crises as a result of the selection process for their governorship candidates. All the parties have not quite overcome, period of anomy, through they are stoutly carrying on with the exercise, not knowing what the courts may decide. Various persons within and outside these political parties have sought intervention from the judiciary to decide if their governorship selection process strictly followed the books. Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has set an early date next month, October to publish the final list of candidates.
The November 6 governorship election in the state is highly anticipated by different stakeholders in the state and the country, at large, expectedly causing many upheavals. The APC is not an exception to many troubles in the wake of the governorship primary of the political parties. In the PDP, the choice of Mr Valentine Ozigbo was a source of rancour that led to the exit of some of his fellow contestants from the party. Some dissatisfied erstwhile members of the PDP like Dr Godwin Maduka and Dr Obiora Okonkwo have moved to Accord and the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) respectively to actualise their governorship ambitions, the APC continues to receive an increasing number of former members of the APGA and PDP into its fold.
To make matters worse, another faction of the PDP elected Senator Ugochukwu Uba as its candidate. Though the court has finally settled for Ozigbo as the authentic candidate, the Ugochukwu Uba faction remains a sore irritant to the PDP in Anambra State.
For the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the confusion about the candidate of the party has partly been resolved by the court too, with former Central Bank Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo finally enlisted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as its candidate, but not without distraction from aggrieved party members, most of who are still complaining about the process that threw up Soludo as the candidate. A factional candidate of the party, Hon. Chuma Umeoji has already moved to the Supreme Court to contest Soludo’s candidacy. While this is happening, some prominent members of the party are also leaving for APC.
The APC also has its fair share of the crisis that trailed its governorship. Of the 13 aspirants that went into the contest with Uba during the party’s primary election, at least 11 of them converged one day after Uba emerged as a candidate, to disown the process. They said no election was held anywhere in the state, and that the announcement of Uba as the winner of the primary by the Governor Dapo Abiodun of the Ogun State-led primary election committee was not acceptable.
However, the unique thing about the party is that its leadership was able to pacify all involved, to the extent that the party has today accepted Uba as its candidate, and working towards delivering him at the election. Save for two of its former aspirants who moved to other smaller political parties to continue their quest for the governorship, the APC, has relatively remained intact, with little or no record of defection, as it has been seen witnessed in other political parties trying to manage angry contestants who lost their bid for Governorticket of their political parties.
As the date of the governorship contest draws near, there is no doubt that Uba is poised for victory in the election. Immediately after the governorship primary, Uba had begged his co-aspirants to join him to enable the party to achieve the task of taking power in the state. Speaking with journalists, he said, “I can’t go on this journey alone. This campaign cannot be achieved with a divided camp. I plead with all today that we come together to achieve our collective victory. It was a free and fair contest and by the grace of God, I emerged victoriously.
“I extend a hand of fellowship and brotherhood to all the brave and qualified men, who contested this election with me. I ask you to join me to walk this road to victory. I have been in your shoes several times, where I was not lucky and I joined the victor to try to achieve victory for our party. I implore you to please join me as I recognise that I cannot go on this journey alone. Some may say that it is not easy to be magnanimous in victory, but I declare today that the victory that bears my name is our collective victory. I reach out to all, to please join this crusade for eventual victory in November. There is strength in unity; we will walk away from all divisions that have stunted our development and prevented us from our collective dreams.”
Having partially achieved the cooperation of his party members, Uba may have gone full blast, moving into other parties to poach their members. A known taciturn and silent mobiliser, Uba is believed to have a hand in the rancour bedevilling APGA, as regards its quarrelling governorship candidates. THISDAY gathered from sources in APGA that Uba may be the unseen hand engineering the various moves of Umeoji, who has become a serious problem to the party.
The hand of Uba has also been seen in the recent defections by members of both APGA and PDP. Members of the APC have attributed the defections to Uba’s charm, magic wand and popularity, while others attribute it to his clandestine activities. The chairman of APC in Anambra State, Mr Basil Ejidike while briefing journalists at the state party secretariat in Awka disclosed that two serving senators in the state were set to join the party from PDP. It was believed that the two senators mentioned were Senators Uche Ekwunife and Stella Oduah, but the leadership of PDP quickly moved in to stop them. Ekwunife who was a governorship contender was named the chairman of the PDP campaign council, in what looked like a desperate attempt to keep her. She also alluded to this much during the inauguration of the campaign council, when she assured everyone that her commitment was total and that she would do all to deliver Ozigbo. She urged members of the council to give their all, saying – “as for me standing here today, ‘they know what it took them to get me.”
A member of the PDP’s Board of trustees, Senator Joy Emordi was the first to decamp to the APC in an elaborate ceremony attended by the APC national leadership. Despite the move to placate Oduah, she has moved over to the APC, pledging to work for the party and remain a loyal member. Many believe that her change of party was engineered by unseen hands, who reminded her of her ‘unfinished business with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), where she still has charges of corruption against her. Others will rather give the credit for Oduah’s switch of political loyalty from the PDP to the APC to the unseen hands of Uba.
In APGA, the news of the defection of six members of the House of Assembly in faraway Abuja into APC was not a surprise to the Anambra people. The members are; Hon. Nonso Okafor representing Nnewi North; Hon. Timothy Ifedioramma representing Njikoka 1; Hon. Cater D. N Umeoduagu representing Aguata 1; Hon. Lawrence Ezeudu representing Dunukofia; Hon. Arthur Chiekwu representing Idemili North and Hon. Edward Ibuzo, representing Onisha North 2.
Receiving the defectors at a brief event on Tuesday evening in Abuja, Chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) Governor Mai Mala Buni restated the party’s determination to win the Anambra governorship election, which informed the zeal in engaging critical stakeholders in Anambra State. Buni said: “Looking at what is happening, especially now that prominent and serving state lawmakers have started joining, the grassroots is moving and Anambra people are moving to the APC.”
The defectors described the APC as the preferred party and promised to mobilise support towards victory in the November 6 governorship polls. To add colour to the brief event held at Imo State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, Governors of Imo, Lagos, Osun and Kogi as well as top members of the party in Anambra State were in attendance.
Arinze Igboeli, a staunch APC supporter and Southeast Media Director of the party while mocking APGA, attributed the large acceptance of APC in Anambra to Andy Uba’s magic wand. He said, “For years, our party (APC) has never produced even one member of Anambra State House of Assembly, but immediately we made Andy Uba our candidate, we now have six lawmakers in the state. Andy Uba is highly accepted.”
Fear of Uba Everywhere
Already, there is a staunch belief in the state that either by hook or crook, Uba is set to capture Anambra State. While Uba’s supporters believe he will win fairly because of his popularity, supporters of other political parties believe that he can never win in a fair election and that if he ever wins, then it is by crook.
The APGA has already raised the alarm, insisting that he was working hard to lure more people out of their party. The National co-ordinator of APGA Media Warriors Forum, Chinedu Obigwe in a recent press release said four serving Anambra State Commissioners and 12 lawmakers were offered N300 million to defect to the APC as well as destabilise the state. He said: “There is information on how the six saboteur lawmakers, four serving commissioners and others were lured with N300 million by Andy Uba to be part of the evil plot to set Anambra on fire.”
In another press release, Obigwe lamented that the plot was to lure more members of the House of Assembly into APC to weaken APGA, and also use the legislators to harass and destabilize Governor Willie Obiano, through an attempt to impeach him.
To douse the heightened tension, the Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, has assured the Anambra people that nobody can rig the November 6 governorship election in the state. Speaking through the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, the governor said some people were planning a protest, over a plot to rig the November poll, but assured that would not be the case.
The statement read in part, “We advise our people to disregard the claims that the rigging of the forthcoming election in our dear state is a foregone conclusion. This is a propaganda stunt. They have been using the propaganda stunt to intimidate Anambra people in the last couple of years, but it has always failed them. The Anambra State of 2021 is totally different from the Anambra State of 2003 or 2007.
“The rigging plans cannot work this time. The people of Anambra State, supported by their government, are ever ready to protect their state and its impressive progress of the last few years, rather than allow soldiers of fortune and buccaneers to toy with its destiny once again. The November 6 vote will be free, fair and transparent. This will be in conformity with the tradition of free polls which have come to define Anambra State political culture in recent times. The 2017 governorship poll and the 2019 general election in the state were the freest in the country.”
“We trust the integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari who has consistently assured the nation that free, fair and transparent election will be one of his major legacies in the country. We have no reason to doubt him, despite the unconscionable behavior of some people in his party. Anambra State government has been working closely with such bodies as the INEC, the Police and DSS, to ensure a free and fair election on November 6. We are convinced that the relevant bodies are working in the public interest. We, therefore, advise the Anambra people to discountenance the propaganda that the rigging of the forthcoming election with the aid of the federal might is a foregone conclusion. Our people are implored not to carry out the protests planned throughout Anambra State, which may be hijacked by violent elements. The political party which presents the best candidate and who will work assiduously for a greater Anambra State will certainly win the November 6 gubernatorial election.”
Uba Speaks on Rigging
Senator Andy Uba, the APC candidate for the election has said he has no plan to rig the election. Uba who was welcome into the state at the weekend from Abuja where he had also visited President Muhammadu Buhari and was presented the flag of the party said; “We are here to appeal to the people of Anambra State for their support. We are here to assure you that we will not take it by force. We are calling for your support.
“There is a benefit inherent in being connected to the centre. The minister is on his way now to Anambra to flag off the commencement of work on failed portions of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway that is causing the traffic on this road. Anambra will be liberated. In fact, Anambra is already liberated. The day the President gave me the flag of our party was the day Anambra was liberated,” Uba said.
Uba whose popularity is on the rise was a former Presidential Aide on Domestic Affairs to President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was very influential in that administration.
Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba, better known as Andy Uba was elected and sworn in as the governor of Anambra State on 27 May 2007. He was removed by a supreme court decision on 14 June 2007. He governed the State for 14 days. He was elected the Senator to represent Anambra South Senatorial District in 2011. This is beginning to look like his most promising campaign for the Anambra governorship, having failed in two previous attempts.
There is a staunch belief in the state that either by hook or crook, Uba is set to capture Anambra State. While Uba’s supporters believe he will win fairly because of his popularity, supporters of other political parties believe that he can never win in a fair election and that if he ever wins, then it is by crook.
News of the defection of six members of the House of Assembly in faraway Abuja into APC was not a surprise to the Anambra people. The members are; Hon. Nonso Okafor representing Nnewi North; Hon. Timothy Ifedioramma representing Njikoka 1; Hon. Cater D. N Umeoduagu representing Aguata 1; Hon. Lawrence Ezeudu representing Dunukofia; Hon. Arthur Chiekwu representing Idemili North and Hon. Edward Ibuzo, representing Onisha North 2
By David-Chyddy Eleke.
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