•Festering battle deems party’s chances
The Anambra State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has found itself in familiar terrain which has been a routine at every successive gubernatorial election.
Less than three weeks after the conduct of two parallel primaries, the party is already neck deep in internal wrangling over who is the authentic candidate of the party. Before now, the National chairman of the party, Chief Uche Secondus, had handed over the certificate of return to Valentine Ozigbo as its candidate and observers went to bed with the impression that all is well in the party .
But Secondus and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party were unmindful of the dangers that were apparent when they recognized Ozigbo. The party forgot that the Chris Uba-led PDP held the four aces and the structure of the party by the virtue of the fact that the court had earlier pulled the carpet off the feet of the Ndubuisi Nwobu-led executive of the party and handed it over to the Uba faction led by Mr. Chukwudi Umeaba.
According to the judgment delivered before the conduct of the primaries in the state Hon Justice A,O Adeniyi of the FTC High Court had in its ruling granted the following reliefs .
“An Order of injunction is hereby issued restraining the 1st Defendant whether by itself,cronies, allies or Representatives, from further reorganising, dealing with or parading any person or group of persons listed in pages 14, 15 and 16 of the brochure for the South-East Zonal Congress of March 6, 2021, either as a state chairman, Exco members or local government area Chairmen of the PDP, Anambra State chapter except the list of inaugurated party officers and delegates that emerged from the Anambra PDP Congresses conducted on the November 28, 2017 and 1st December 2017 the Sen Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Panel Report and Barrister Upkai Ukairo Local Government Appeal panel Report under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba.
It was on the strength of that order that the three man ward delegate primaries that were conducted by the Nwobu-led executive was canceled by Umeaba, hence disqualifying all delegates, statutory ones inclusive from voting.
The Umeaba faction now conducted its three-man delegates and also used its statutory delegates to conduct its primaries at the St Paul’s Primary and Secondly School, Awka which by the subsisting order of the court was valid while the Nwobu faction of the party conducted its primaries at Dora Akunyili Women Development Center and Valentine Ozigbo emerged as candidate.
Deepening the woes of Ozigbo and his supporters was the pronouncement by the High Court in Awka reaffirming the authenticity of Umeaba faction and the nomination of Sen. Ugochukwu Uba as candidate of the party.
Hon Justice Obiora Nwabuike had in a suit no A/230/2021 filed by Sen Ugochukwu Uba against the Independent National Electoral Commission (IÑEC) and the PDP ordered that Mr. Valentine Ozigbo should stop parading himself as the candidate of the party in Anambra State.
He also ordered that the PDP should not submit Ozigbo’s name as candidate of the party but Sen. Ugochukwu Uba and also prevented the INEC from accepting the name Valentine Ozigbo as candidate of the party.
Uba had also gone to court urging it to nullify the primaries held at Dora Akunyili Women Development Center which nominated Ozigbo as candidate of the party. Uba further in his suit contended that the primary election that produced Ozig-
bo was in disobedience to the judgement of the Abuja High Court and in violation of Section 87 of the Electoral Act and Sec 25 and 50 of the PDP constitution. By this current pronouncement, the candidate of the PDP in the November gubernatorial election in Anambra State is Sen Ugochukwu Uba until the Appeal Court sets it aside.
Meanwhile the FCT High Court judgment that sacked the Nwobu-led executive is still pending and is yet to be vacated by a higher court hence painting a picture of confusion among the supporters of Ozigbo.
The position of the National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Committee of the party on this recent development is still unclear, hence presenting the party once again as one fielding two candidates for an election.
Meanwhile, an Anambra High Court sitting in Awka on Monday fixed September 14 for hearing on the substantive suit to determine the candidate of the PDP in the November 6 governorship election in the state. Justice Obiora Nwabunike said this at the hearing on Motion Exparte by Dr. Ugochukwu Uba which among Orders barred Mr. Valentine Ozigbo from parading himself as PDP candidate. Nwabunike also ruled that the motion could no longer be heard as it had abated following the inability of the legal teams to conclude their responses before seven days which elapsed on that day.
The Order in Motion A558M/ 2021 obtained on July 5 also asked the INEC to reject any name submitted to by the PDP pending the determination of the substantive suit. Alex Ejesieme, SAN, Counsel to Ozigbo said he filed his responses with accompanying arguments on July 8 and July 9 and was not to blame for the failure of the plaintiff’s counsel to respond to them. Emmanuel Enoidem, Counsel to PDP also said he filed his responses on the same date while Ibrahim Mohammed representing INEC said he filed his on Monday.
In his argument, Beluolisa Nwofor said the defendants filed their responses on Friday and that it was only proper for him to reply to them on Monday as courts do not function on Saturday and Sunday.
The Justice said since the lifetime of the motion had elapsed, there was no need to continue processes around it. Nwofor, the plaintiff counsel then prayed the court to proceed to the hearing of the substantive suit on Tuesday or Wednesday in view of the urgency of the matter.
He said it was important that the court determined the matter to enable the Anambra electorate to know who the authentic candidate of PDP is before the publication of candidates’ list by INEC on July 16. But the defense counsels reminded the court that it had 180 days to hear and determine the matter since it was a preelection case.
They argued that there was no need for the court to rush but it should allow them to properly respond to the suits on the point of law. In his ruling, Nwabunike adjourned the hearing on the matter to September 14.
The presiding Judge also announced the receipt of a letter from PDP to the administrative judge requesting that the matter be transferred from his court. He said further actions on the matter would be determined by directive from the administrative judge.
By July 16 the issue of candidacy of all political parties would have been put to rest while the issue of substitution of candidates and if by then the PDP still remains in the trenches the party would certainly not field any candidate for the election.
This development has always denied the party the opportunity of returning to the Government House, Awka, which the party lost to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Conversely, observers are of the opinion that the intrigues in the party is a calculated attempt by some tin gods in the state to ensure that another candidate from another party emerges as that governor and frustrate the PDP from running for the election.
However, should the PDP finally present a candidate it would be going to the election with a lot of bruises, a development that has been the bane of the party in the last two gubernatorial elections. In 2013 the then candidate of the party Comrade Tony Nwoye had defeated Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu in the primary election and Nwoye spent 70 per cent of the campaign period battling with his traducers at the courts to protect him a ticket and at the end the ruling APGA won the election.
Similarly, in 2010, Prof. Charles Soludo, who was the then candidate of the PDP had to battle with the self-styled Anambra godfather, Chief Chris Uba, who insisted that Soludo would not be the candidate of the party and even when Soludo emerged with his running mate, Sen. Emma Anosike, the party had already been dismembered by intra-party crisis that ruined the chances of the party.
Once again, APGA carried the day as the PDP remained comatose as usual. It is also being alleged that the APGA-led government in the state is behind the predicament of the PDP by allegedly sponsoring the confusion.
But Special Adviser to Governor Willie Obiano on Political Matters, Barr. Ifeatu Obiokoye dismissed this claim, saying that the internal problems of the PDP is as old as its registration since 1999, adding that being a onetime chairman of the party, it has been a recurring decimal.
“I want to use the medium to discountenance those unfounded stories about APGA sponsoring the crisis in the PDP because we have more important things to do than meddling into another party’s affairs. “I was at some point the state chairman of the PDP and it has always been a running battle in the party in which I was also affected and the party has always found it difficult to resolve their problems,” he said.
Governor Obiano, he said, is busy completing his numerous projects while some political jobbers are seeking relevance by pointing accusing fingers at the party. “Why would APGA sponsor the crisis in the PDP when we are coasting to victory? It is only a political party that is not sure of what it is doing or a ruling party that has not delivered on its promises that would want a shortcut to winning an election.
“APGA as a party has been consistent in victory due to what we have been able to put in place since inception and those things speak for our party, hence let the fifth columnist and political jobbers find other parties to try their luck and certainly not in APGA,’ he said.
Ironically, the other political party that would have capitalised on the crisis in the PDP would have been the APC, but the alleged daylight robbery that took place during the party primaries has deepened the party’s woes and it is not even clear if the party would present any candidate for the election even though its leadership has accepted the candidacy of Sen. Andy Uba.