These are not easy times for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially its family in Anambra State. A few months ago, the party was in prime position to wrest power from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). But from expressions thus far, there are reasons to argue that its post-June 26 reality has been more of a mirage. These realities cast a shadow of doubt over the ability of the party to actually be on the ballot for the November governorship election. From a barrage of litigations down to the abandonment of the state chapter of the party by the national leadership in Abuja, the Anambra PDP seems to be walking aimlessly in pitch darkness.
While the party is facing litigations arising from its flawed primary election on June 26, the fresh legal challenge arising from the fielding of two deputy governorship candidates at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) bring it home as unserious and unprepared. That may become a fatal error that would consume the party. No doubt, many people may be hearing for the first time about the reality of the fact that PDP in Anambra fielded two deputy governorship candidates, Mr. Robert Nchekwube Umeozulu and Mrs. Azuka Enemuo. How did PDP achieve the ‘feat’?
According to INEC’s Form EC9, which I sighted, Robert Nchekwube Umeozulu, whose residential address was given as ‘Amuwo Village, Amesi, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State’, was submitted to INEC on July 9, 2021, as candidate for deputy governor of Anambra State even where he deposed, on oath, that he had voluntarily renounced his Nigerian citizenship and made a public declaration of allegiance to the United States of America, an action which offends Section 182(1)(a) of the Nigerian Constitution, as amended. The section of the constitution states that “No person shall be qualified for election into the office of the governor of a state if: (a) subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria.”
The fact here is that the PDP fielded Umeozulu, who, ab initio, was ineligible for the office. Bringing Enemuo later was an after-thought, which put the party in a precarious situation, given that Umeozulu also filed in a WAEC document that did not bear the same name as those on his INEC form EC9.
He also told INEC that he has never been known by other names. So, who owns the WAEC certificate that had Aghekwube on it? That, on it own, raises allegations of forgery against Umeozulu. But the bigger question is, how did PDP send in Umeozulu’s name as deputy governor candidate when it is known that the same Umeozulu is from the same village with the factional governorship candidate, Valentine Ozigbo? While there may not be any law that mandates a governorship candidate to pick his running mate from a different senatorial district of the state, common sense dictates that the office be spread. Fielding Umeozulu when he is ineligible, and substituting him with Enemuo is a matter for legal interpretation because the first action was in itself faulty. Can the anomaly be cured simply by substitution of name? I doubt, because there is a causality action here. Following the principle of the first cause, the action was faulty and as such no structure can rightly or legally stand on faulty foundation. So, did the factional candidate and PDP hurt themselves? The courts will determine this.
Besides, the recent action of the Ozigbo team in constituting a campaign team has left much to be desired. The party last Sunday unveiled a list of notable PDP stalwarts as members of the PDP Governorship Campaign Council. Shortly after the list was published and the team inaugurated, Hon. Chris Azubogu issued a disclaimer distancing himself from the campaign committee. Reason: No one consulted or sought to win his involvement in the campaign council. Following Azubogu was a former state chairman of the party, Ken Emeakayi, who also issued a disclaimer keeping himself miles away from the campaign council. Reason: He was neither consulted nor invited to be part of the team. He woke to see his name imposed on the campaign list. Further, former national publicity secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, issued a disclaimer saying that he had nothing to do with the campaign council.
Emeakayi was more acerbic in his letter to the director-general of the council. He said: “You have for reasons best known to you deliberately sidelined and relegated to the background key PDP stakeholders and grassroots influencers.” He added: “It does appear to me that you are about repeating the same mistakes of 2017, and I do not see how someone will keep doing same thing over and over again and expecting to get any different results.”
These sound like a death knell on the factional campaign because it hits at allegations that Peter Obi had hijacked the campaign and imposed his erstwhile associates from APGA on the party. This allegation was a major reason the PDP performed woefully in the 2017 governorship election, where Obi’s imposed choice, Oseloka Obaze, could not win his home LGA neither was Obi able to deliver his own home LGA.
In 2017, PDP stakeholders abandoned the party to its fate when Obi had his way and imposed Obaze. APGA trounced the party in all 21 LGAs. Same scenario is repeating itself. Is a different result possible? Arsenal Football Club fans may share their experiences.
There are voices within the factional campaign team asking why Obi was allowed to impose almost most of the campaign coordinators. They say no one else but Obi has a voice in the campaign team. All others, including the factional candidate, work as puppets. However, this reality is made possible by the fact that the factional candidate lacks the political structure to attend an election. He is a novice and the least politically exposed of all candidates from Anambra South involved in the game and has no option than to depend on Obi, who is fast losing his appeal among the electorate, for survival. The only political capital he brings to the contest is clinging to Obi’s apron strings, even when Obi no longer attracts the respect of institutional structures, the masses and the elite.
That is the reason those three political heavyweights in the state have pulled out of the campaign. Besides, the “campaign council” was constituted without input from the national leadership of the party, an action that indicates abandonment. When the All Progressives Congress (APC) constituted its campaign council for Andy Uba, it published a list that had the involvement of the national leadership of the party, including its serving governors, ministers and other categories of elected and non-elected members. That action gave the APC a sense of seriousness in approaching the Anambra election. It also brought to the Anambra APC a sense of ownership and support by national leadership of the party. In the case of PDP, the national leadership, which is also in a deep mess, seems more to be bothered about its make-or-break national convention scheduled for October than the Anambra election fixed for November.
The battle for its life keeps the failed leadership of Prince Uche Secondus focused on fighting to survive what may be a last-minute upset that would dent his political profile, than focus on the Anambra election, which it has already mismanaged by creating the possibility of the party approaching November 6 not sure of who, between Ugochukwu Uba, a more crafty PDP politician, and Valentine Ozigbo, a PDP political upstart, would represent it on the ballot.