The political tension in Nigeria, which culminated in the death of General Sani Abacha on 8th June 1998, quickened the birth of a democratic era that has lasted from 1999 till date – courtesy of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, an amiable general with a civilian heart.
In 1998, during a transition period from military to civilian rule, various political elite formed different political parties. Among them were Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All People’s Party (APP), and Alliance for Democracy (AD). It was because of the irresistible political influence of Dr. Alex Ekwueme in Southeastern Nigeria, that PDP was overwhelmingly accepted by Igbo people.
However, as the PDP governorship primary election started, political intrigue reared its ugly head. There was an alleged conspiracy to elbow out of the race, Professor ABC Nwosu, former Commissioner of Health in Anambra State and a seasoned politician. Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju (an Associate Professor) from Anambra South Senatorial District, who was unequal to Professor ABC Nwosu in politics, was allegedly sponsored by an oil magnate, Sir Emeka Offor. What initially looked so easy for Professor Nwosu, who enjoyed the overwhelming support of Anambrarians became an endless vanishing point.
According to Professor Nwosu’s interview with Vanguard news, “I know for a fact that there were two primaries – the first primary was held on the 21st of December 1998, same day with other PDP gubernatorial primaries nationwide. It was a “direct primary” held in all Local Government Areas of Anambra State and supervised by the national electoral committee for Anambra State led by Major General A.B. Mamman (retd). Other members of the committee were Senator (later Hon. Minister) Sanusi Daggash, and Dr. Mrs. (later Hon. Minister) Becky Igwe.” He further noted: “I won the ‘direct primaries’ convincingly and was presented with a certificate of return by the committee, which along with newspaper publications of my electoral victory are still in my possession.” As he posited, “a week later, the PDP National Electoral Appeal Panel annulled my election victory on a petition written by one of Dr. Mbadinuju’s associates after which a new “closed door” primary was conducted by another committee led by Alhaji Murtala Ashorobi, on 28th December 1998 not in the open, but at Ikenga Hotels Awka.”
In his reaction, Dr. Mbadinuju, who claimed he won the PDP governorship primary by “96 percent of the votes” stressed that after the first PDP governorship primary was conducted, “we had to come to Abuja and Solomon Lar (national chairman) and the rest of his team annulled it and asked us to go and repeat [the election] and it was out of that repetition that ABC Nwosu and his group didn’t know. In fact, they came back and were drinking wine already, thinking that everything was done, but in Abuja, Lar said we should go home and repeat [the election] and we went there and repeated and I won.” Brooding over the injustice meted to him, Professor Nwosu left PDP and joined APP.
Be that as it may, after the Anambra State gubernatorial election on 9th January, 1999, Dr. Mbadinuju of the PDP defeated Professor Nwosu, the candidate of All People’s Party (APP). He was sworn in as the Governor of Anambra State on 29th May, 1999.
The enthusiasm with which Governor Mbadinuju was acclaimed as the new governor of Anambra State faded into the wind after one year of his administration. His leadership was allegedly trammeled by corruption, insecurity/extrajudicial killing by Bakassi Boys, unpaid salaries, the dilapidation of infrastructures, political rivalries with his sponsors/godfathers, to mention but a few. His government was a nightmare to civil servants and a failure to Anambrarians. It was indeed a period of a political quagmire, retrogression, and backwardness in Anambra State. People began to wonder how an Associate Professor/barrister who “obtained a BA in political science, and a doctorate in government” would be so incompetent in political management and administration. Rather than escaping from the web of godfatherism, he allowed himself to be caged and marooned.
In the midst of Mbadinujuism which shattered the people’s social contract in 2002, Chief Chekwas Okorie, a canny political opportunist, with like minds, founded All Progressives Grand Alliance and became the National Chairman. He smartly lured to the party Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who popularized the APGA party in Southeastern Nigeria. To so many Anambrarians yawning for political redemption, the introduction of the APGA party, which engendered Igbo thought and idea was seen as a timely intervention.
By the time Governor Mbadinuju sought reelection in the PDP, his power of incumbency was evidently powerless. Another uncompromising and shrewd political godfather had emerged. His name was Chief Chris Uba from Uga town in the Aguata LGA of Anambra State – the younger brother of Senator Andy Uba. Though Chief Chris Uba was not new to Governor Mbadinuju, the drowning governor seemed not to have understood the excessive power from above Uba wielded. While Governor Mbadinuju was basking in the euphoria of having Anambra state PDP’s ticket (which he allegedly won) in his palm, Chief Chris Uba outplayed him and allegedly secured the PDP governorship ticket for Chief Chris Nwabueze Ngige. In protest, Governor Mbadinuju joined the Alliance for Democracy (AD) party.
As this was going on, the APGA party was waxing stronger. A coolheaded, unassuming, and thrifty personality called Mr. Peter Obi had begun asking Anambrarians unusual questions: “Are we cursed or are we the cause?” Gradually, his message dripped into the consciousness of those that were craving for the messianic intervention.
Few days to the gubernatorial election that occurred on 19th April 2003, the political atmosphere was disproportionately heated. Many were afraid that Dr. Ngige would be an ineffective governor if elected considering the influence of his godfather. Added to that, Ngige’s body size and disposition gave people the wrong impression that he could easily be caged politically. Basklifenews remembers how, on 18th April 2003 (Good Friday), without deference to the Holy Day, APGA scorned Ngige for his physiognomy and PDP mocked Mr. Peter Obi that when cock would crow 3 times that he would deny Anambrarians as St Peter denied Jesus Christ in the Bible. It became more comical as attention was given to the cock in the APGA logo.
When the controversial election result was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr. Chris Ngige of PDP purportedly defeated Mr. Peter Obi of the APGA party, Mr. George Muoghalu of the All Nigerian Peoples Party, and others. Feeling rigged out, Mr. Peter Obi/APGA party took their case to an Election Tribunal.
Sooner Dr. Chris Ngige was sworn in as the governor of Anambra State on 29th May 2003, his alliance with his alleged godfather, Chief Chris Uba, ended in smoke. There was an allegation that Governor Ngige was hard-pressed to implement unwritten pacts that could cause economic strangulation, social disharmony, and political instability in Anambra State. Ngige knew that posterity would be unfair to him if he would do that, and he reneged. Fearing that Ngige has overgrown wings that could flap for liberation and survival which was contrariwise to what they allegedly agreed, his alleged godfather, a seasoned political dribbler, struck back fiercely on 10th July 2003. Governor Chris Ngige was allegedly whisked away from the Anambra State government house by late AIG Ralph Ige on the allegation that he had sent his letter of resignation to Anambra State House of Assembly, and which the House of Assembly accepted. Luckily, the Ngige’s ingenuity, bravery, and assertiveness, and the intervention of Igwe Anugwu of Mbaukwu at Choice Hotel foiled the abduction of Governor Ngige – an abduction which was later christened “PROTECTIVE CUSTODY.” Like young David in the Bible, Governor Ngige taught the giant Goliath and cohorts a lesson of a lifetime. Mr. Tafa Balogun, who was the Inspector General of police at that time was later disgraced out of office due to corruption by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission. He was later convicted and jailed.
Overnight, Governor Ngige became the hottest discussion in Nigerian politics. By crushing godfatherism, he won the sympathy of many Anambrarians who had earlier voted against him. To maintain the tempo, his disloyal deputy governor, Dr.Okey Udeh was removed and Mrs. Eucharia Anozodo removed as Speaker. Miraculously, he paid arrears owed to the Anambra civil servants since the time of Governor Mbadinuju. He also paid salaries on time. In the heat of flimsy litigations, nude/Okija oath-taking scandal, and violent attacks on government facilities by Ngige’s enemies to undermine his successes, Governor Ngige constructed massive standard of roads and infrastructure in nooks and crannies of Anambra State. Unfortunately, President Olusegun Obasanjo was indifferent and passive in the condemnation of the alleged kidnapping of an elected governor. Worst still, nobody was arrested and prosecuted arousing the suspicion that the child dancing at the market square has a mightier drummer. The abduction only occurred four years after the military handed over civilians. The climax of the desperation to remove Ngige as governor occurred twice. The first incident was on 22nd July, 2003, when Justice Samuel Egbo-Egbo, a notorious judge that was compulsorily retired in January 2004, of the Abuja Federal High Court allegedly ordered that Governor Ngige should be restrained from acting as governor stating he validly resigned. Similarly, on 2nd January 2004, Justice Stanley Nnaji of Enugu State High Court, in suit No E/503M/2003, gave a controversial ex parte order to the Inspector General of Police to remove Governor Ngige from office as governor. It was alleged that the Inspector General of Police, in what seemed to be an obedience to the court’s order, immediately removed Governor Ngige’s police protection and refused to restore the security in spite of the Court of Appeal order to do so. In addition to that was the wanton attacks on the state properties, there was an apparent fear that President Obasanjo could declare a state of emergency in Anambra State – which involved unlawful removal of a sitting governor. It was a period of dark democracy – a period when democracy was an orphan. Justice Nnaji was later disgraced and dismissed for contravening “his jurisdictional powers” by the National Judicial Council (NJC) following the petition of the indefatigable attorney, Nnoruka Udechukwu (former Attorney-General of Anambra State). On 30th May, 2021, unknown gunmen gruesomely killed the dismissed justice.
By now, many people have fanned down support for Mr. Peter Obi from Anambra Central North Senatorial District, who allegedly won the 2003 election. Efforts were made to persuade him to withdraw his petition from Election Tribunal, but he would not agree. As would be expected, it was after about 27 months (August 2005) of a legal tussle at the Election Tribunal that Governor Ngige’s victory was invalidated by Justice Nabaruma. Ngige appeal against the judgment at the Federal Court of Appeal, but on 15th March 2006, the higher court upheld the judgment. Thus, on 17 March 2006, after about 34 months of Ngigeism, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi was sworn in as the new governor of Anambra State. It would not be said that most Anambrarians were euphoric about Governor Obi’s takeover. For example, prior to that, the synergy between Ngige and Anambra State of Assembly led by Speaker Mike Belonwu was second to none. Thus, for seven months, Governor Obi found himself basking with good intention in an unfriendly rivulet. On 2nd November 2006, before he could plot his route properly, he was impeached by the Anambra State House of Assembly. His deputy, Mrs. Virginia Etiaba, succeeded him, thereby becoming the first-ever female governor in Nigeria. As usual, Obi challenged his impeachment and was reinstalled as governor on 9th February 2007.
As Anambrarians were relishing that Governor Obi had circumvented political turbulence, the tenable and untenable claims on the duration of Obi’s tenure became contentious. While some insisted that the tenure of Governor Obi should have ended on 29th May 2007, better-informed people insisted that Obi’s 4-year-tenure should have started the day he was sworn into office. Nonetheless, political interest was wafted to relegate reason to the background. Professor Maurice Iwu-led INEC conducted an election on 14th April, 2007, and declared Mr. Andy Uba, former Special Assistant on Special Duties and Domestic Affairs to President Olusegun Obasanjo, the winner. He was sworn on 29th May 2007.
In his usual way, Governor Obi appealed to the court for intervention and interpretation. On 14th June, 2007, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in a historic judgment, nullified Mr. Andy Uba’s governorship and ruled that Governor Obi’s tenure would start from the day he was sworn in as a governor. There was jubilation in Anambra State. The humiliation Ngige suffered from his alleged godfather, and the damage of some of the properties of the Anambra State government was fresh in the minds of the Anambrarians and sympathizers. Whether real or imagined, some viewed Mr. Andy Uba’s governorship as an imposition from Aso Rock; since Ngige, who enjoyed high popularity from Anambrarians was denied the right by the INEC to contest April 2007 gubernatorial election. All the same, Mr. Obi wore back his mandate and manured it with development on the Anambra political terrain.
It was not by surprise that when Governor Obi sought reelection, he won effortlessly in the election conducted by INEC on 7th February 2010. His competence and developmental strides were the added advantage that aided him to defeat Professor Chukwuma Soludo of PDP, Mr. Andy Uba of the Labour Party, Dr. Chris Ngige of the Action Congress, Honourable Uche Ekwunife of Progressive Peoples Alliance, Ralph Nwosu of African Democratic Congress, Nicholas Ukachukwu of Hope Democratic Party and so on.
By the time Governor Obi cruised closer to the end of his second tenure he has made the coast clearer for his APGA party. His successes in education, infrastructural development, healthcare, and good governance were incomparable, matchless, and unsurpassed. While some state governors in Nigeria were cap in hand seeking for bailout loan, Governor Obi, through his inventiveness was amassing wealth for the Anambra State. APGA became so popular in the state.
As the campaign to succeed Governor Obi became showier, Chief Willie Obiano, a retired Executive Director of Fidelity Bank, became the brightest star in the APGA party’s firmament. It was an open secret that he has won the admiration of Governor Obi. By then, PDP was balkanized into two factions – Chief Ejike Oguebego faction and Prince Kenneth Emeakayi faction. It was a whirlwind that blew no good result to the Anambra State PDP that was the ruling party in Nigeria. Mr. Tony Nwoye later won the PDP’s ticket. Dr. Ngige secured the ticket of the Action Congress of Nigeria, while Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, an oil magnate got the ticket of the Labour Party.
On 16th November, 2013, the Anambra State gubernatorial election was held and Chief Wilie Obiano was declared the winner by the INEC. On 17th March 2014, Chief Wilie Obiano, a flamboyant, showy, and jolly personality from Anambra North Senatorial District became the new governor of Anambra State. Being a technocrat, many expected sound financial discipline, prudence, and management from him. His concentration in the development of his Senatorial District, which was majorly rural, stirred up reactions from people. Common to many Nigerian politicians, there was an allegation that Governor Obiano poorly managed the fund his predecessor saved for the state. For that main reason, it was alleged the bond between Governor Obiano and Mr. Peter Obi was hewed apart. Disappointed, Mr. Peter Obi was said to have lured Mr. Oseloka Obaze from the APGA party to the PDP to take the governorship ticket. His support for Mr. Obaze was evident. Many PDP aspirants were not happy. They would have expected Mr. Peter Obi to be neutral, unbiased, and nonaligned. Be that as it may, some of the disaffected PDP aspirants and supporters were rumoured to have worked against PDP during the election.
More than ever, the APC party had a keen interest to become the ruling party in Anambra State. Nobody was oblivious of the wider spread of the APC party in Nigeria after the 2015 general election. Added to that was the power of incumbency that APC was enjoying on the federal. Honourable Tony Nwoye was believed to be sponsored by a billionaire called Chief Arthur Eze (Ozoigbondu) of Ukpo. When APC indirect primary was conducted, Hon. Tony Nwoye defeated Chief Andy Uba decisively. Governor Obiano shivered and knew that the 2017 election would not be an easy task to surmount. Some of his supporters had allied with Mr. Obaze. Although he tried to give Awka’s capital city a modern look, generally, he had no phenomenal achievements. All parties, including the United Progressive Party represented by Chief Osita Chidoka, put up fierce campaigns.
Amazingly, when the result of the Anambra State gubernatorial election was released on 18th November, 2017, Governor Obiano won a landslide victory – winning in all the 21 Local Government of Anambra State. For some months, the echoes of the result reverberated in Nigeria. Sequel to his reelection, he was sworn in on 17th March 2018. Among his achievements was the electrification of some of the major Anambra roads, improvement in education and healthcare, partnering with various town unions in special projects, and the construction of an airport in the state. On the other hand, the appalling and offensive manners with which Obiano’s government replaced many town union governments with the Caretaker governments are nothing to write home about. As we write, many towns have litigated against Obiano’s government, thereby exposing the state to open ridicule and avoidable contempt. As a result of this, the deference given to town unions is waning. People are beginning to believe that with a right dial, a constituted town union could be changed without qualms. Thus, bickering, skirmishing, and disunity became the order of the day.
Governor Obiano’s government would not be said to have performed remarkably on road infrastructure. Newly constructed roads are hard to come by. Where some are seen, the quality is often subject to debate. A good example is the long stretch of crack that surfaced on one of the flyovers that Governor Obiano constructed less than eight years ago. Regrettably, less effort was put to repair the damaged parts of the roads constructed by his predecessors.
Worst still, believable rumour has it that the reserve and fund in Anambra state coffer are bleeding and draining – incomparable to what Mr. Peter Obi saved for the state.
The APGA party has self-inflicted itself by the alleged kangaroo screening of the party’s aspirants. The purported disqualification of about five strong aspirants out of nine APGA aspirants after allowing them to spend substantially in campaigning, pay millions of naira to purchase forms, attract supporters through their manifesto, is barbaric and a disservice to the aspirants and party members. “Self-interest, sentiment, favouritism, and prejudice are sapping the philosophy and progress of APGA party.” There is an allegation that it was done to pave a way for the easy victory of Professor Charles Soludo during the APGA primary. Who is afraid of a free and fair election in APGA?
Consequent to that, “the APGA National Chairman, Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye, and some members were allegedly sacked by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of APGA, and Chief Jude Okeke was allegedly made National Chairman of APGA. Added to that, the NEC of APGA purportedly suspended indefinitely from the party, Hon Chinedu Obidigwe, Chief Uchenna Okogbuo, Barr. Sylvester Ezeokenwa, Barr. Ifeanyi Mbaeri, Hamman Buba Ghide, and Adamu Danjuma Musa, for gross misconduct and anti-party activities. The NEC of the APGA party also reversed the disqualification of Hon Chuma Umeoji, Hon Smart Nonso Okafor, Mr. Cater Dike Umeh, Chief Ozoka Ifeanyi, and Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo. All were cleared to contest APGA primaries.” In the meantime, “Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye has debunked his alleged removal, noting that he remains the chairman of APGA.” As the drama continues to unfold, Hon. Sir Pete Ibida, on 18th June, 2021, have gone to the Anambra State High Court seeking some reliefs meant to favour certain factions of the APGA party. If care is not taken, APGA primary election earlier planned for today 23rd June, 2021, may not validly hold. Chief Jude Okeke has scheduled 1st July, 2021, as the new day of the APGA primary election. In the letter written by the Independent National Electoral Commission to the National Chairman of APGA, dated 18th June 2021, REF:INEC/DEPM/UPPM/1/145, titled “RE: FORWARDING OF COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF DELEGATES FOR THE APGA PRIMARY ELECTION FOR ANAMBRA STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION 2011,” noted that “APGA did not duly notify Commission of the date of the Congress where the ad-hoc delegates were elected.” The letter also noted that “the Commission is unable to confirm if the ad-hoc Delegates list submitted by your party is the outcome of a democratic process,” and that “the Commission wishes to emphasize the need for full compliance with all legal requirements for the conduct of Party Primaries as earlier communicated in the Commissions letter to your Party dated 3rd June 2021 (REF:INEC/DEPM/UPPM/119/1/27).” If this letter is to be taken seriously, the APGA is obviously swimming in an iced confluence, and may not come out alive.
On the other hand, the Peoples Democratic Party has outstanding aspirants. Among them are Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, Senator Uche Ekwunife, Dr. Godwin Maduka, Mr. Chris Azugbogu, Hon. Tony Nwoye, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, Mr. Winton Udeh, Mr. Obiora Okonkwo and so on. The party seems to be putting visible energies to spring back PDP to the seat of power it was occupying before Ngige/Chris Ubah’s clashes caused the partial eclipse of the PDP in the political landscape of Anambra State. The party has realized the need for an all-inclusive primary election to minimize disaffection among the aspirants. It would be said that the PDP was on the right path, and visibly waxing stronger until an Abuja High court, acting on the suit instituted by Mr. Samuel Anyakorah, allegedly ordered the sack of the PDP Chairman in Anambra State, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, and replace him with Mr. Chukwudi Umeaba.
The utterances of Mr. Umeaba have shown that the war drum is about to start. He has suspended the “ward congresses of June 9 to elect a three-man Adhoc committee for the governorship primary.” He noted: “I will contact the NEC of our great party to give me a new date for the ward congresses that will elect the three-man Adhoc committee for the governorship primary.” There is no doubt that the latest court order may be a cog in the wheel to the progress and success of the Peoples Democratic Party.
If people were in doubt of the political strength of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Nigeria, the announcement of Chief Ifeanyi Ubah as the winner of the Anambra South Senatorial District, on 25th February 2019, should be a pointer. Senator Ubah is a political juggernaut and goal-getter that hardly fails a mission he sets eyes on. That Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, from the unpopular party, defeated bigwigs like Chief Chris Uba of the PDP, Mr. Andy Uba of the APC, Chief Nicholas Ukachukwu of the APGA, in the Anambra South Senatorial election, is too clear to ignore. It is even advantageous for him to have been given the YPP governorship ticket without any disaffection within his party. If Senator Ubah, just as he has done in his senatorial district, can exert high political strength, connection, and patronage at the Anambra North and Anambra Central Senatorial Districts, his chances to become the next governor of are doubtless. The only barrier that YPP faces is the lack of popularity, acceptance, and spread.
Amid political squabble in the main parties in the Anambra State, the Action Progressives Party is strategizing patiently. The party has exhibited approving maturity in the screening and clearing of all the aspirants – thus reduces friction, disaffection, and revenge. That the APC got the second position in the 2017 state gubernatorial election is no easy. It is an indication that it enjoys a gradual climb. Added to that fact are the creamy aspirants that are in the APC. Candidates like Chief Andy Uba, Chief George Moghalu, Chief Azuka Okwosa, Mr. Johnbosco Onunkwo, Mr. Ben Etiaba, are known in the stream of Nigerian politics.
What is more, the tempo of the APC party reached the apogee when Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo (Wichtech), a God-fearing billionaire and an amiable philanthropist aspired to become the next governor of Anambra State. He is an honest man, freshly branded, and clean from the dint of peccability and corruption. Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo is a sound administrator, charismatic and gifted wealth creator.
What the APC party needs to win the 2021 gubernatorial election is to sustain the political rhythm, eschew unhealthy rivalry, and hasten the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge and roads.
There is an Igbo adage that says that a person who does not know where the rain starts beating him will not know where it dried. In the past 22 years, rain has been falling on the Anambra State political topography – some come as a blessing and some come as a curse. The denial of Professor ABC Nwosu the “UMBRELLA” he won during the PDP rainy day, sprouted a candidate whose wings are socked with godfatherism. In the words of Professor Nwosu, “the PDP Anambra State, and indeed the State, are yet to recover fully from this PDP wrong-doing of 1998.” The ability of Governor Chris Ngige to break the shackle of godfatherism in Anambra State has brought socio-political liberation to Anambrarians, which his successors exploited in full. Similarly, Governor Peter Obi’s achievements were so phenomenal and extraordinary so much so that Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu told Anambrarians that his last wish was for Governor Obi to be reelected. As Anambrarians get ready for November 2021 gubernatorial election, let personality rather than party affiliation, be the yardstick of measuring the candidate to vote for. Anambrarians need an honest, selfless, creative, and competent candidate. It is such a person that the cap fits.