From Magnus Eze, Enugu
One problem that has dogged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State since 2003 is factionalism and inability to organise free, fair, and credible primaries.
Each governorship primary election in the state had in the past witnessed up to four claimants to the party’s ticket which usually ended up in protracted litigations.
All that may have been jettisoned if the assurances of former Vice Presidential candidate of the party in the last general election, Peter Obi and Acting National Vice Chairman of PDP South East, Chief Ali Odefa, are anything to go by.
The duo recently assured the party’s aspirants in the forthcoming governorship election that the primaries would be free, fair and credible.
They stated that the ultimate goal was for the PDP to produce a capable candidate that will win the election for it.
Speaking at the 13th stakeholders’ session of the party in Awka, Obi said that the PDP shall face the forthcoming election as one indivisible entity and come out of it with a resounding victory.
He enjoined the aspirants to go into the field and convince the electorate for their votes instead of fighting among themselves.
“None of you aspirants are contesting elections against each other; the man you are contesting against is Willie Obiano. You must do all to go out and canvass for votes,” he advised.
Like Obi, Odefa had appealed to aggrieved members who still have cases in court to withdraw them in the interest of peace and harmonious coexistence, as according to him, no party can succeed in the general elections with a divided house.
He disclosed his plans to commence consultations with key stakeholders in the state to ensure adequate collaboration of members irrespective of their grudges and differences against one another.
Odefa described Anambra, Enugu and Abia States as PDP strongholds; noting that nothing would be left undone in reclaiming the Awka Government House.
He said: “Anambra is fully a PDP state. With two Senators and six House of Representatives members from the state, you will know that Anambra is a PDP State.
“If we work hard, we will be in the Government House next year. I am very confident about this. It is simple. We want to bring transparency in the primary election processes. The process must be free and fair. We know that if the process is transparent, contestants will not work against the party during the election.”
Odefa explained they were not unmindful of the fact that the PDP would have by next year been away from the Government House of Anambra State for about 16 years, adding that it was enough catalyst that is propelling the party to work even harder.
He told Daily Sun in an interview that they would do everything possible; starting from providing level playing field for all the aspirants to contest and then letting the most popular person to emerge as the candidate of the party.
The zonal chairman declared: “I can tell you that there are strategies that have been lined up to ensure that we capture the seat of governorship in Anambra State, come this 2021 election.
“This has been our experiences in past elections. As I said earlier, we are talking to the aspirants and stakeholders, we are doing interpersonal visitations on the stakeholders and we are trying to guard against what was the norm in the time past so that such does not repeat itself this time around. And I can assure you and I can assure Anambra people that this time, we are poised to get it right and we will get it right. The era when people are muscled down and ticket or candidacy given to a favoured candidate is over; that’s what leads to other aspirants, either defecting to other parties or sabotaging the party out of anger and annoyance of ill treatment. So, all these things we have put into consideration and we have put mechanisms in place to check them. And I can assure you, they will never happen again; not under my watch.”
The popular song on the lips of the people of the state even outside the PDP has been that a competent person succeeds Governor Willie Obiano even though the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has maintained that its governorship ticket is zoned to Anambra South.
For Nnamdi Nnoruka, a retired Group Captain and governorship hopeful on the platform of Labour Party, the forthcoming election is time for a person with new ideas to come on board to see how far he can take the state further.
Nnoruka, who was Chairman of the defunct Anambra Peoples Forum (APF), prescribed that competence and track-record of performance should determine who succeeds Obiano and not the mundane consideration of zoning.
Toeing the same path, National Leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youths Wing, Arthur Obiora, also declared that what Anambra State needed in this time around was a governor that would develop the state and create enablers for investments in the state.
He warned that those clamouring for zoning of the governorship did not love the state, adding that the youth would be very critical in the emergence of the next governor of Anambra.
“For us as Ohanaeze youths, we’re interested in having one of the finest and best young governors. I think the youth will produce a governor this time around whether it’s from the South, Central or North, provided it’s the wish of the masses; we’ll be solidly behind that person. We’re not interested in the zoning and zoning is not our problem this time around. We believe that any of the three zones could produce the best and finest governor for the state. Whoever God says it will be, will be and we’re looking forward that the youth would actually do their job to make sure we don’t make any mistakes this time so that Anambra will be better again,” Obiora stated.
Similarly, an entrepreneur and advocate for youth employment and good governance, Obidike Chukwuebuka has underlined competence as one leadership quality the electorate should look for in those campaigning for votes in the November governorship election. He reminded Anambrains that electing leaders not knowledgeable and competent will not achieve any progress.
According to him, the era of politicians or candidates hoodwinking the electorate with promises had gone, rather candidates should showcase what they have achieved or done to better the lots of the people because “the essence of leadership and representation is to provide solutions to challenges of the led and to chart a realistic service vision for their betterment. Time has come therefore when the people must rise above sentiments to elect leaders with competence and genuine knack for touching lives positively.”
Obidike also expressed deep concern on how Anambra went from a state with surplus savings to a state neck-deep in debts which according to him, was because incompetent people were in the helm of affairs in the state.
“We all know that elections are all about promises but we must carefully support only competent leaders who have the knowledge, skills and motivation to restore the glory of the state and re-ignite the light of the nation we are proud of in the past.
“We must elect a leader with integrity and competence, not a corrupt or dubious individual; an honest, sincere and exemplary leader who has the interest of the people at heart and would deliver on campaign promises.
“When we vote someone who has effective leadership skills, there would be positive and desired changes in the state,” he stated.
PDP women leaders at the local government and ward levels in the state have also tasked the leadership of the party to ensure the emergence of a credible flag bearer that will lead the party to victory in the next governorship election.
State woman leader of the party, Justina Nwafor, made the call when she met with the women leaders at grassroots at the Nnewi North Local Government Area party secretariat.
Nwafor reasoned that with a credible candidate, PDP will coast to victory at the polls; adding that the women leaders have enormous roles to play in the forthcoming election.
She urged that “The first step towards making the dream of PDP taking over governance in Anambra State starts with the state executive council of the party, under the leadership of Hon. Ndubuishi Nwobu, ensuring that a credible and eminently qualified candidate emerges as PDP flag bearer. Then, again, women leaders and their groups will give their unflinching support and cooperation to the leadership of the party and the flag bearer to make the dream come true.”
Proponents of competence as yardstick wondered why some persons, particularly in APGA were scared of campaigning for a competent and credible person to be elected.
In fact, a socio-cultural group, Igboezue International Association (IIA), said that APGA was trumpeting zoning because of the party’s crass failure in the state, under Obiano’s watch. He also alleged that those PDP members clamouring for zoning of the governorship ticket were no doubt playing the APGA card.
National Publicity Secretary of the group, Charles Amafo, said: “We want somebody who is credible; who has good credentials; who will see that the future of the state is not jeopardized; one who can bring home the dividends of democracy to the grassroots. That is where we stand”.
He further claimed that APGA has boxed itself to a corner by zoning its ticket to the Southern zone and is therefore, working tirelessly to make the zoning argument seem like a state policy.
According to Amafo, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah who represents Anambra South on the platform of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), has equally joined the zoning campaign because he believes that he would overrun candidates of the major political parties should they all zone their tickets to the South.
He, then, reasoned that there is the tendency that any candidate, especially from the central zone, would win the election because the zone has the highest number of registered voters in the state and might also easily get the backing of the Northern zone.
Meanwhile, Anambra State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has boasted of the party’s readiness to take over power from APGA in the state.
APC State Chairman, Chief Basil Ejidike in an interview with Daily Sun, argued that with the poor performance of APGA in the state, APC would be the party to beat.