*aspirants to re-enact 2010 scenario and balkanize PDP again

*as Soludo teams up with Obi and Akunyili in APGA

*North sponsor candidates

With just about ninety (90) days to the November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State to choose a successor for the outgoing Gov Peter Obi, virtually all the political parties and aspirants appeared docile and unprepared.

And it is really hard to single out any aspirant or party that could be said to be active or virulent on the impending important political test. No thanks to the prolonged wait the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) subjected all the stakeholders on the release of the guidelines and timetable for the election.

Before then, most aspirants had busied themselves with all manner of excuses that they didn?t want to run fowl of the laws, or be seen as jumping the gun, or hasty, when the Commission had not given the go ahead on open politicking.

But at last since the commission blew the kick-off whistle about three weeks ago, many still have not found their rhythm, and evidently may never find it.

Curiously, the unfolding intrigues and scheming from the various political blocs and camps in the state now range from the unthinkable, bizarre and the unimaginable.

More so, as the PDP grapples with efforts to self-rediscovery, they must address certain troubling issues, especially as the discordant tunes from the various segments of the polity, particularly the North continues to sound louder each passing day over what Jonathan?s 2015 move would be. Anambra must be top on the agenda as it remains the arrowhead to signpost where the South-East geo-political zone goes any day. So, with the state?s governorship election now in the horizon, first in the nation to usher in the next dispensation, the party must guard her loins really firmly; for obvious political reasons.

DOZEN FORMS, ONE TICKET:

It?s amazing that even those that have not visited the state in the last 2-10 years dashed to the Wadata House Headquarters of the People?s Democratic Party (PDP) to pack the Expression of Interest(EOI) forms. The fee was also hiked significantly from the two hundred and fifty thousand naira in 2009 to as high as One million naira this time.

The cost has evidently not dampened the spirit of any of the litany of the about 27 aspirants, more than half were said to be women. One, a hairdressing salon operator in Awka.

Accusing fingers allegedly point to Senator Andy Uba and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu as being behind the massive purchasing of the forms for their respective camps, including the hairdresser. As tempting as the story sounds, it was actually waved off and seen as unbelievably unimaginable.

There is heightened apprehension that the observed abuse of the free access to the Nomination forms to female aspirants in PDP may force the party to review the policy. Sources close to the party headquarters revealed that fee for the Nomination form could go up as high as between N10m-20m each. The high cost would help weed off the unserious ones, proxies and stooges who have literally turned the issue into a political stock market.

ENDANGERED PARTY PRIMARIES:

As one of the pivot on which political democracy rests, primary election was always seen as important as the main election. But the allegation that the Uba and Ukachukwu camps have mass-acquired the nomination forms for about ten of their supporters each, has cast a big shadow of doubt on the process.

Unconfirmed sources revealed that it was coincidentally part of the two respective camps? plan ?B? option that is not unconnected with a selfish design to intentionally jeopardize a smooth primary on August 24. That the calculation was to further put the party in a very tight corner for a repeat conduct of the primary, due to time constraints. In the end, that they would then use their contacts at the Wadata Plaza to settle for a consensus candidate option, hoping that that would favour them more, having already watered the grounds well in that direction.

Alternatively, they would bamboozle the party headquarters into inviting all the ?aspirants? to Abuja where the matter would be resolved through internal mechanism. This includes but not likely to be limited to asking the ?aspirants? to vote among themselves to choose who they want to fly the party?s flag at the Nov 16 governorship election in the state. Of course the outcome would be foreclosed as each ?aspirant? would simply vote for his/her sponsor.

NORTHERN AGENTS/STOOGES:

Also, some of the candidates, particularly in the PDP were reportedly sponsored by some northern Nigeria elements with a view to backing same to the hilt and use the candidate/s to fight and attempt to scuttle President Goodluck Jonathan?s 2015 agenda. It therefore has become germane for Aso Rock to now consider and back only someone without any political blemish or baggage.

It was discovered that of all those currently jostling for the plum job, only Walter Ubaka Okeke and Alex Obiogbolu have elicited the party?s big wigs well.

Okeke who they say remains top on the list appear well-fitted into the card because he is said to be well-heeled with a deep pocket, well-read, psychologically very stable, and a key player in the Nigeria?s big oil/gas services sector since 1995. His businesses were domiciled within the Niger Delta region. He was said to have been paying to the governments an annual tax that runs into billions of naira, as against other contestants who only pay paltry sums for the sake of election process requirement. He is reportedly married from either Bayelsa or Rivers.

While Obiogbolu reportedly has what it takes to govern the state well, the larger section of the state?s 177 communities are not favourably disposed to someone from his area due to complex social reasons. But he is seen as capable and qualified with immense administrative experience in government business. A reputed medical officer and successful businessman who has a lot of enduring legacies to his credit in the state?s civil service.

Chief Sylvester Okonkwo, a close confidant of Gov Godswill Akpabio, said to be among those who have not visited the state in the last 10years. It appears that his only reason for picking the form was because one of the key players in the PDP Governors? Forum politics urged him on. The governor was said to have promised to intercede on his behalf when a decision would be taken on the matter. Unfortunately the present political equation of the state does not favour his aspiration, as he comes from the Central zone like the outgoing Gov Obi and Senator Ngige.

For Senator Uba, it was said that his greatest natural challenge is his phobia for competition. As a result, he has all along been busy with every conceivable and subtle move to upstage all other aspirants undemocratically. He has held several meetings with his ?aspirants? at Abuja. It was disclosed that some serving and former members of the House of Representatives including Ben Nwankwo, Fort Dike, Eucharia Azodo and Lynda Ikpeazu attended the meetings last Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. These meetings were described as historical as it was the first to be held between the Senator and the members as a group since their inauguration in the National Assembly.

Chief Mike Okoye, a successful legal practitioner was alleged to be brandishing his friendship with the former Governor Diepreye Alameseigha as his own joker. Unfortunately his political traducers were quick to point out that he once held sway in Hope Democratic Party but let go of it when it mattered most, hence political watchers wonder what he really wants this time around.

Dr Obinna Uzor remains a close friend of former President Gen Ibrahim Babangida, and also does not hide his penchant to cling to anything Catholic. That?s why he has been going round building parishes for his beloved faith. He may at the end of the day realise why the holy book warned that in heaven there is nether Catholic, Anglican or Pagan. So, leaders in the state need to develop urbane approach to public matters.

PARTY LOYALTY:

Elders of the party have urged for a holistic review of all input each of the aspirants have made to the growth or otherwise of the party in the past ten years. Because while some were busy building the party from families, wards and council levels, others were found to have been more concerned with how to wreck the party to its very foundation.

Some were known to be very good at sowing confusion and crises in the party only to run into another party as a window. Keen watchers agreed they were presently already set for the familiar move again, knowing full well that the present PDP under Alh Bamanga Tukur is not kidding on enthroning internal democracy and discipline. It was therefore unconscionable for the party to give a vague directive on e-registration of members in the state vide a letter dated July 25, 2013. The letter without any clear reference was purportedly signed by the party?s Acting National Organising Secretary, Alh Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar. The exercise, according to the three paragraph letter was to last for ten days, beginning from Wednesday July 24, 2013 in all the 326 electoral wards in the state, as a pilot scheme. Curiously, it was to commence a day before the writing of the official authorizing letter? Who actually is behind this confusion, since the state is politically very combustible right now? Already the aspirants were expressing shock at the exercise because they all agreed at a meeting with party hierarchy to shelve any such thing in the state till after the guber election.

Again, Anambra is among the few lucky states to have about four citizens in the party?s Board of Trustees(BOT)-Dr Alex Ekwueme, Senator Onyeabor Obi, Chief Maxwell Okudoh and Iyom Josephine Anenih. No doubt they would have interest in who runs their dear state as governor, hence would like to comment or make an input as the decision is made.

It would also not be out of place to put a call through to the various council chairmen of the party to inquire who and who among the aspirants who have visited them to express his/her interest to run for the office of the governor in the November 16 election, and when. Investigations show it was just Walter Okeke, Obiogbolu and Tony Nwoye that have toured round and visited the members to inform them of their intention to run. It was so bad that apart from the three above, nearly all the rest who picked the expression of interest forms did so without confiding in their spouses, families or ward officials till date. There was the case of one whose wife simply locked him out for the ?foolish? guber aspiration joke. One of the ladies whose husband is an Onitsha-based business man upbraided her severely for not discussing the move with him first. The poor trader was said to be so bitter that he queried the wife in front of a combined family meeting of both in-laws, ?? so you now have other husbands with whom you discuss such serious matters, leaving me in the lurch thoroughly embarrassed, disgraced and neglected?, he reportedly fumed.

However, when all the indices are considered, the PDP may end up with a dark horse like Walter Okeke who is said to be surefooted and firmly etched in business and politics of the state. He was reported to be miles ahead of the Ubas, the Ukachukwus and the Soludos as he has in the course of his 326 ward tours displayed an unusual mastery of the state geography and political idiosyncrasies of the various zones. And going by the pronouncements of the party?s national chairman during the inauguration of Gov Seriake Dickson-led PDP Reconciliation Committee on Thursday, they are very prepared to reclaim Anambra state among others.

PAYBACK, KAMA OR REPEAT OF 2010?

It?s indeed doubtful whether many who are now in the race truly believe they would win in the real sense. Because even Prof Chukwuma Soludo, the immediate past governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) chose to dump PDP for the very troubled APGA with an intension to re-unite the warring leaders including the incumbent outgoing Gov Obi and win, or what.

Many saw it as his own double barrelled game plan to either use the plank of APGA to contest and perhaps win, or serve him as a launching pad to unleash payback punishment on PDP and her members who allegedly chose to collect money to dismember and factionalize the party when he ran as the party?s flag-bearer in 2010. The economic guru strongly believes that he won?t go down a second time without a good fight.

SOLUDO: OBI SQUARES JONATHAN

It?s no longer news that Obi wants everyone with listening ears to hear that President Jonathan loves him so much that he literally governs Anambra from Aso Rock so as to be close to the Number One citizen always. Yet he is now willing to field Prof Soludo as the APGA flag-bearer who apparently left the PDP because he failed to get the nod of Mr President. So Obi want to use him to ambush whoever Mr President?s PDP nominates. This would surely show the extent he loves President Jonathan who gladly appointed him into his Economic Management team, not minding he comes from an opposing party, APGA.

RELIGIOUS POLITICS:

Unfortunately, the religious and clannish politics brought upon the state by the outgoing Obi administration appear the most attractive as it is currently festering. Obi foisted deep seethed politics of religion on the state in the last eight years as some faith-based organizations went into the dock to support him during the long drawn election petition proceedings. They openly backed him and he reciprocated openly too. Little wonder he has treated the Anglicans and the other religious groups in the state with so much disdain, since 2006.

Today, as he counts days to his departure and after working so hard to dismember his All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Obi has again chosen to play the church politics card. He wants his Catholic faith to always dominate others with mind-boggling ratio in virtually everything in the state. To achieve his aim this time around, he has moved to reconcile with his embattled national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, a Catholic, using Prof Chukwuma Soludo, a Catholic, as the bargaining chip. More so, it was alleged that Soludo was ready to also reconcile with his sister in-law, Prof Dora Akunyili, also Catholic, if only to upstage the impending political volcano currently being foisted by the patriotic elements in PDP. It was for this reason the former Central Bank chief recently dumped the PDP for APGA, just like Akunyili. They are Catholics, and are all very qualified, no doubt. They fit properly into the out-going governor?s ?all-Catholic? profile agenda.

APGA? WHY SOLUDO?

Knowing full well the resolve of the PDP to take back the state in the November 16 election, and due to lack of time, Obi as well as Umeh needed a well-known face that needs minimal introduction, campaigns and expenditure.

Present exigencies in the state have made it also very necessary, because the mounting political calculations and opinion polls have continued to give the PDP an overwhelming edge due to the numerous political indiscretions of the APGA-led administration; top on the list was the non-conduct of council election in the state which became due since 2003. It was so bad that with a two-year tenure law, Obi has sat on the democratic rights of no fewer than four sets of councillors, council chairmen, supervisors, assistants, drivers, gardeners and so on, in all the state?s 21 councils for so long. He had also single-handedly appropriated their salaries, allowances and other sundry emoluments in the last eight years. It was and continues to be seen as inexplicable. Curiously he has been suffusing the state and nation with all manner of excuses on why he would continue to do that. The ploy, as lame as it is, has only helped to throw up the reason as wide as possible, -financial. Nothing else. The pontificating notwithstanding, the Federal authorities, all church leaders, community leaders, traditional rulers and the leader of thought in the state have continued to voice out their disapproval of the ugly trend. They have maintained their stand even after collecting their own SUVs and other ancillary seal-your-mouth gifts that have been spread around by Obi, recently. His initial toga of frugality has just thawed, unveiling a desperate man eager to buy every person and organization with his poisoned chalice of all sorts of gifts veiled in trickery. Few accountants is all it would take to set the ball rolling at the appropriate time. It?s surely too early to rock the boat in Cambodia, Haiti, South Africa, Bangladesh and Dubai?.?

COUNCIL POLL AND ANSIEC

It?s heart-breaking that Prof Titus Eze, an erudite university don who returned to the lecture hall at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University from tour of duty in a couple of states in the country as Federal Electoral commissioner (REC) was persuaded into accepting to chair the state?s electoral commission(ANSIEC), but is facing a nightmare there. Today Obi?s national chairman who everyone knows supposed to be speaking from the point of an insider has affirmed that Eze committed no offence. But Obi sees it differently. The man was still holding meetings on the expected council election when he was announced dismissed from duty, for misappropriation of funds as shown in a query by the accountant general of Local Government then. Eze till maintained he neither got any query nor the account in question. He quickly went to assert his innocence and redeem his image in court. But Obi, through his legal officers sat on the progress of the case till date when they sensed the matter was too open for manipulation in court.

NGIGE AND THE BOKO HARAM BURDEN:

Political watchers in the state lack of geo-balance and respect for the sensibilities of the electorate by the key players in the newly formed All Progressives Congress(APC) as the greatest headache Dr Chris Ngige would have. In addition, many of those who hitherto were close to him have vowed to oppose him very closely too, this time. Their reasons were similar and personal- he underrates loyalty.

His new APC was equally accused of lacking sense of fair distribution of anything, not even the party positions. It?s all about Mohammed, Ahmed, and co. So, the electorates in the state want to know from Ngige when the new Buhari/Tinubu broth would give bearing to the Chris? and souls of their brothers, sisters and relations and friends that Boko Haram bombs mistakenly blew to pieces? When souls these poor souls be politically laid to rest properly?

IFEANYI UBAH?s MANY WARS:

This is a very energetic youngman with visible burning zeal to better the lot of the masses, but the Nigerian factor has clearly become his greatest undoing. Predictably he would be visited with more issues ahead the security clearance for the election. It?s indeed worrisome that despite his wars with the federal agents/agencies he has chosen to surround himself with the worst kind of political bed-mates in the state. Ranging from his so-called think-tank, directors of this and that, he has shown the world the kind of governance he would unleash on the state. What a pity. He needs to visit a political dry cleaner because money is no longer everything, particularly to credible citizens. He however needs all the goodwill wishes as the jamboree lasts.

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