Policy Briefs

News Track: PDP and its quest to retake Anambra

— 25th August 2017

By Ismail Omipidan

If the Supreme Court had not delivered its verdict on the leadership crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before now, no one would have considered the party a serious contender in the forthcoming Anambra governorship election, slated for November 18, 2017.
However, with the seemingly unity within the party, following the decision of the court, which declared Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi as the authentic leader of the party at the national level, the party appears poised to stake its pride, in a state, it once held sway, at the beginning of the current democratic dispensation, in 1999.

But for the infighting within the party, which led to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), seizing the state, the PDP would have been the party calling the shots in the state till date.

In spite of APGA being in the saddle however, there several PDP faithful who believe that the state remains the party’s stronghold. One of such party member, who incidentally is a governorship aspirant, is Dr. Alex Obiogbolu.

He told Daily Sun in a recent interview that it was certainly wrong to say that the party’s popularity was dwindling in the state.

Hear him: “The defection of some leaders in the party to the ruling party is not a clear sign of dwindling popularity but rather the exhibition of lack of character amongst some of the political class in Nigeria. We may have had problems in the past, but with the recent decision of the Supreme Court, we have put all that behind us. If you review the results of the last general elections, you will discover that the PDP did marvelously well in the South East which will signal to any observer that the party is popular and generally accepted in this region.

Thus, even in Anambra State where the APGA heads the government, our party is still more acceptable to the good people of the state. You can see it by the way we have won elections in recent times despite some of the issues that have bedeviled our party. Our loss of the governorship position is more as a result of division over the candidature for the election than people’s love for the ruling APGA, “Obiogbolu, declared, adding that the party was poised for victory in the November 18 election.

And to show the level of its preparedness, the party, for the first time in several years, Daily Sun gathered, held a rancour-free congress, at ward levels, to elect three member delegates that would participate in the party’s primary, slated for Monday, August 28, 2017, where the party’s standard bearer is expected to emerge.

Interestingly, unlike in the past, where the party was used to parading an army of aspirants, thereby making it difficult for it to make any headway, this time, only seven of the aspirants have so far indicated interest in the race.

They are: Dr Alex Obiogbolu (North), Mr. Oseloka Obaze (North), Prince Okechukwu Emeka(North), Miss Lynda Ikpeazu (North), Sen. Stella Oduah (North), Dr Ifeanyi Ubah (South) and Mr Akolisa Ufodike (South).

And of the seven aspirants, five are from Anambra north senatorial district, the same district with the incumbent governor, Mr. Willie Obiano. Ironically, even the Ohanaeze Ndigbo chapter in the state has since endorsed a zoning arrangement that would see Anambra north, producing the next governor of the state. The group, had in July this year, addressed a press conference, where it appealed to all political parties participating in the forth-coming election, to field only persons from the northern senatorial district of the state, as their candidates.

Interestingly too, the former governor, Mr. Peter Obi, who had four years ago, spearheaded the campaign to zone the position to Anambra north, is today, a prominent player in the PDP. He is therefore expected to play “a crucial role in the PDP primary.”

Obi, who commands a lot of respect from within and outside the state, is expected to leverage on his popularity and influence amongst former governors whom he had worked with to the advantage of his preferred candidate. Daily Sun gathered that for now, Obi remains undecided between Obaze and Obiogbolu.

Mr. Akolisa Ufodike, a Nigerian, but who is Canadian based, is a late entrant into the race. He was initially disqualified, before his last minute clearance by the party. He is from Nnewi, Anambra south senatorial zone. But as at the time of filing this report, he appears to have withdrawn from the race.

In a statement personally signed by him, Ufodike, said “Today (Thursday), I will be ending my race to become my party’s flag bearer in the coming elections. The last few months have been the most exciting of my life. I traversed the state and learnt firsthand from people what the most pertinent issues affecting their lives daily were.

“I also spent a significant amount of time discussing my candidacy within party ranks just as I did with the broader populace. My conversations with potential delegates made it clear that they believe it is crucial for us to be extremely competitive in Anambra north Senatorial zone in order for us to be successful in the general elections.

“I will support the candidate that emerges as the choice of our party delegates and I implore others in the race to do so once it is concluded decisively. This is not the time to split ranks if we are to defeat Governor Willie Obiano in the general elections.”

Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, is also in the race. And like Ufodike, he is also from Nnewi, Anambra south senatorial zone. He is also a late entrant into the race. In fact, as at the time he obtained his form, many in the state were still confused about his real political party. This is so because, though he worked for the former president, Goodluck Jonathan’s reelection with his Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) group, he was not a member of the PDP at the time. He had remained a member of the Labour Party, LP, after using the platform to run for governorship in 2014, and by December last year, he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He has a very deep pocket no doubt, and he is seen as being large hearted. But many political onlookers in the state do not see him as a serious contender. If anything, they see his aspiration as an attempt to prove to critics that he is “still rich” after his running battle with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Politically, Senator Stella Oduah, currently representing Anambra north at the National Assembly, is no push over; as a matter of fact, the former Aviation minister knows how to effectively position herself for political offices.

Until she obtained the form, there was nothing around her to suggest that she was interested in running for governorship. But most political elites from the state who spoke to Daily Sun on her aspiration yesterday, revealed that she was likely in the race to make her return to senate in 2019 “double assured.” Besides, Anambra does not seem to be ready for a female governor, at this time in its history.

Another female contender in the race is Lynda Ikpeazu, a serving member of House of Representatives. Like Senator Oduah, she is also from the north senatorial zone. She is from the legendary Ikpeazu family and has often employed the prominence of her family for political fortune. Although the former Beauty Queen appears unpopular among the politicians in the state, she however has the capacity to spring surprises. There are those who believe that she may have joined the race to divide Dr. Obiogbolu’s votes in the Onitsha federal constituency.

Prince Okechukwu Emeka is an aristocrat and a former minister of Aviation. He is one of the few politicians referred to as Abuja politicians. He stays more in Abuja than in Anambra State. He is relatively unpopular in the state. His only credential is his closeness with Chief Chris Uba, one of the hitherto strong political godfathers of Anambra politics, a thing that may also become his greatest undoing.

Mr. Oseloka Obaze is a seasoned diplomat, who has worked outside Nigeria for the major aspect of his life and he appears to have what it takes to pilot the affairs of the state, having served as Secretary to State Government, (SSG) in the Peter Obi’s administration and briefly, in Obiano’s government, before he was eased out.
His greatest challenge however is that the core PDP in the state see him as one who would “lock the politicians out”, and “populate the government with his associates from APGA if he eventually makes it to Government House, Awka,” one of party chieftains, told Daily Sun.

Dr. Alex Obiogbolu has been very consistent in the PDP. He is a thorough bred grassroots politician who has paid his dues. He has served at different levels of administration within the state and has proven to be a man “with the Midas touch. “

As chairman of Anambra State Local Government Commission, he not only offset backlog of arrears owed workers but also employed many at a time the government he was serving was not doing well.

He has remained a passionate PDP man who has stayed with party “through thick and thin. Obiogbolu is said to be one of the two enjoying the patronage of Mr. Peter Obi but hardly drops the name. Many in the party view Obiogbolu as the bridge between all the factions of the party and the joker the party will present in the event that Senator Andy Uba and Hon. Tony Nwoye, former members of PDP lose the APC ticket, as nearly all of their supporters will return to PDP to support Obiogbolu ticket.”

Expectedly, the medical doctor from Anambra north, has Ikpeazu who is believed to have joined the race to divide his votes in the Onitsha federal constituency, to contend with. But Obiogbolu, it is gathered, is also very well rooted within the two Councils that make up the constituency.

All said, the outcome of the PDP’s primary on Monday, will go a long way to determine, if indeed, it was prepared to sack Obiano, from Government House, Awka.


Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

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