SINCE the return of democracy in Nigeria in1999, elections in Anambra state have always been determined by either the fiscal strength or political clout of Abuja politicians or godfathers.
Despite the change in political leadership at the centre, which made a lot of people think that the old system would not hold water in the APGA lead government of Senator Umeh-Obiano, the spectre of godfathering has refused to leave the State.
The only difference in the current scramble is that only a few politicians have been associated with overt support for their surrogates. While former Governor Peter Obi and the Chairman of Oranto Petroleum Limited, chief Arthur Eze, Senator Andy Uba, Senator Victor Umeh are the dominant players of the game.
Senator Umeh-Obiano at the beginning of their quarrels, both godfather and godson tried to dismiss the loss of amity between them. But, as time wore on, particularly following disagreements over an alleged N75b left by the former governor, the trouble between Peter Obi and Governor Obiano blew into the open.
Matters took a turn for the worse when it became obvious that Obi was no longer disposed to supporting the incumbent for a second term in office.
Obiano not only tried to be his own man, but he also decided to take his political destiny into his hands by paddling his canoe in the direction of the former APGA national chairman who is now a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Victor Umeh.
Although it was Umeh who created the opportunity by making the By Michael Ovat-Awka governor, not only the leader of the party but also the chairman of Board of Trustees of APGA, shortly after he served out his term as chairman, Obiano decided to sideline him.
Those close to the governor revealed that the incumbent was not happy that the former national chairman could not win the senatorial poll, despite enormous financial infusion to his campaign. On his part, Umeh was said to be peeved that the governor did not show serious support for his senatorial ambition.
As the relationship between the two Boss went cold, leadership crisis broke out of APGA, so much that many people ascribed the schism to the former national chairman to require the governor for dispensing with him. However, feeling cornered and with scant knowledge of the internal contradictions in APGA, the governor decided to bring back Senator Umeh to serve as his megaphone for support in the party’s new troubles.
Umeh tried to defend the embattled former national chairman, Victor Oye, who according to a source in the party was not properly suspended from the party by his colleagues in the APGA National Working Committee (NWC). Even without showing evidence, those close to Chief Obiano alleged that the governor had paid as much as N4b, but he stopped refunding the money after Obi continued to traduce him and his leadership style in public.
With Obaze’s emergence as PDP governorship flag bearer of the just concluded gubernatorial election in the State and Umeh’s appointment as Director General of Obiano’s reelection campaign committee, the political feud between Obi and Obiano has shifted to Obi versus Umeh.
Ensconced in his position, the first salvo fired from the Obiano camp was a well-circulated piece theme “No to Peter Obi’s Godfatherism,” asking voters not to look in the direction of Henry Obaze. Obi’s camp, giving reasons why the immediate past governor declined support for Obiano, dismissed the idea of Obaze being a stooge.
The former governor’s aides recalled how Peter Obi had shortly after handing over to his successor on March 17, 2014, declared: “If Willie Obiano fails on continuity promises, I will join the rest of Anambra citizen to vote him out.
They explained that Obi was merely expressing his political preferences out of sincere principles, pointing out that government did not merit his continued support after squandering great opportunities handed over to him.
Obiano’s close associates say the governor is riding on Sen
Umeh’s coattails to navigate through the precarious position of the Oye camp when the party was in crisis then, the source disclosed. Umeh APGA versus Okonkwo PDP, Senatorial tussle APGA Umeh versus PDP Okonkwo.
The optimism was shared by the people of Anambra Central, who have remained resolute in their support for senator Victor Umeh senatorial ambition in spite of the legal entanglement that has prevented the rerun for long.
His supporters across the state and beyond were also never in doubt that he would scale through the hurdles situated on his way to victory by his political opponents. For them, Umeh has never lost any battle in the court and that the Anambra Central legal battle would not be different.
So, it was not shocking for them, when another attempt to halt the re-run at the eve of the exercise by Senator Annie Okonkwo (another PDP aspirant) was rebuffed by the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal. The appellate court in refusing Okonkwo’s the application that sought to restrain INEC from conducting the rerun held that the earlier order made on November 20, 2017, directing the electoral body to conduct the election for the senatorial seat within 90 days cannot be reversed so as not to make a mockery of the judiciary.
The ruling paved the way for the rerun and as expected, it was the victory for Umeh, who has fought and won many battles for his party.
The estate manager, surveyor and valuer turned politician has led APGA to governorship victories in Anambra State on three occasions and there is no doubt that the senatorial seat is a compensation for his struggle for the party and for his selfless service to humanity and invaluable contributions to nation building.
Former vice president Alex Ekwueme and Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu (both are now late), at a thanksgiving church service after Sen Umeh’s eventful tenure as APGA national chairman in 2015, late Ekwueme described him as his son, noting that he (Umeh) had achieved greatness for the Igbo nation at a young age.
The elder statesman also acknowledged the indomitable Igbo spirit in Umeh and enjoined him not to relent in the struggle for a better deal for Ndigbo in Nigeria.
Ojukwu, on his part, after the 2010 Anambra governorship election, could not help hail Umeh’s fighting spirit, which saw the party break the second term jinx in the state with the re-election of then Governor Peter Obi.
Sen. Umeh who started his political journey in 1998 as a founding member of the PDP, where he was elected state treasurer, but later joined forces with other progressive-minded politicians to form APGA in 2002 tenure would expire June 6, 2019.
Dr Obiora Okonkwo of the PDP, based in Abuja, who did not take part in the Anambra Central Senatorial District election in 2015 added a new dimension to the protracted legal tussle over Anambra Central Senatorial District election when Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the immediate swearing-in of Dr Obiora Okonkwo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as senator representing the district.
Dr Okonkwo had filed the suit against the PDP, its former National Chairman, Adamu Muazu, INEC and Senator Uche Ekwunife, challenging the emergence of Ekwunife as PDP candidate for the 2015 National Assembly election. However, in the course of the trial, all the four defendants withdrew their processes in the case and agreed to submit themselves to the judgment of the court. Justice Tsoho agreed with the submission of the plaintiff’s counsel that in view of the withdrawal of all defendants, the court was at liberty to enter judgment in favour of the plaintiff.
He said with the withdrawal of the defendants and their consent to abide by his judgment, the plaintiff has emerged as the lawful candidate of PDP on March 28, 2015, National Assembly election for Anambra Central senatorial district, which does not go down well with the Senator-elect Umeh, Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano and APGA as a party.
The Anambra central senatorial seat was vacant since the nullification of Ekwenife’s election by the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu on December 7, 2015.
The court voided Ekwunife’s election on the grounds that she was not “the product of a valid primary and was therefore not duly and legitimately nominated.”
It did not only order for a rerun election but excluded the PDP from participating in the January 13 rerun election which finally produces Chief Victor Umeh as the man seat.
PDP should be buried itself in shame and allow the Anambra Central people to have peace, Umeh concluded.
Andy Uba versus Tony Nwoye Not a few people expressed surprise when Hon.
Tony Nwoye, representing Anambra East-West Federal constituency, where the incumbent Governor hailed, beat 11 other aspirants to clinch the governorship ticket of All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday, August 27, 2017.
But, prior to the governorship primary on August 26, a purported deed of conveyance between Prince Arthur Eze and Tony Nwoye, was made public.
The document was based on agreed terms for support and sharing of the booty of government, including the appointment of commissioners and distribution of internally generated revenue, among other financial accruals to the state.
At the result of the charged primary, fingers pointed in the direction of Senator Andy Uba, more so when a petition from a nebulous group, APC Southeast Volunteers Movement; to the national headquarters of APC called for the outright cancellation of the primary.
And while the call for a review of the outcome of the primary was gathering momentum, the leader of the party in the state and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, was said to have mobilized party stakeholders from the southeast to reject Nwoye’s emergence on the grounds that the former students’ leader could not win the November 18 governorship election in the State.
The question is this, who take the lead come 2019 in Anambra State.