Two weeks before the June 26thPDP primary election for Anambra 2021 Gubernatorial Election , Senator Mrs. Uche Ekwunife looked good to win the PDP ticket. She was almost ready to shatter all the glass ceilings placed against women in the all-male dominated contest.
Her political prowess frightened her opponents who ganged up against her. It was odd seeing group of men ganged up against one woman. I had predicted a definitive three horse race between Senator Ekwunife, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo and Hon. Chris Azubuogu. I admit I didn’t give so much chance to Valentine Chineto Ozigbo hence his landslide winning came as a pleasant surprise. I see the invisible hand of God in his victory.
If PDP had conducted the primary election with the ad-hoc delegates, the June 26thprimary election would have been Obiora Okonkwo’s or Ekwunife’s election to win or lose. Everything was going fine in their favor until the Anambra master of mischief came up with his court order and scattered the entire process, something he does every election season to hurt the party and cost the main election.
How being the author of confusion gratify and comfort the self-acclaimed godfather and why PDP remains in the same bed with him will be an interesting research topic. In all, there were six court orders procured for and against the PDP ad-hoc delegates, the State party executives and the conduct of the primary election. Interestingly all of the court orders were procured from different High Courts. Thus, bringing to question the role of the judiciary in undermining democratic process in Nigeria.
The why and how the courts undermine democracy is an issue for another day suffice to say that the plethora of orders and the eventual decision of the party to discard the ad-hoc delegates list which was eventually replaced with Super Delegates list few hours to the primary election changed the equation and brought misfortune for Ekwunife and Obiora, both of whom were major front runners.
The eve of June 26th was a night none of the PDP aspirants will ever forget in hurry. None of them slept as they were making frantic phone calls and hosting late night meetings to reach out to the super delegates most of whom were learning for the first time that they were super delegates. Added to the confusion was the fact that some of the super delegates were either deceased , out of state or no longer members of the party. The available ones became highly priced. Each delegate pocketed between N9m/10m. An estimated N2Bn was expended on 229 delegates in what became the most expensive party primaries election in Nigeria history. Dr Maduka shelled $5000 USD on each delegate , Val Ozigbo shared $4000 each +additional N2m per delegate, Dr Obiora Okonkwo gave out N2m each, Winston Udeh-$2500, Senator Ekwunife -N1m, Hon Chris Azubuogu -N1m. The bazar that went on as PDP Primary election calls for an urgent need for campaign finance reforms.
In the ensuing bazar, some stakeholders who hitherto supported the aspiration of Ekwunife suddenly made a U-turn and decided to retain the zoning arrangement which the party had all along jettisoned. Ironically, the stakeholders recognized Ekwunife’s political prowess and capacity, they agreed that she is a lady with the Midas touch with capacity to win the main election but reasoned that in all her political careers she had represented Anambra Central Senatorial Zone and as such should be restricted to the Central as her political base. Moreover, they reasoned that since she is currently representing Anambra Central in the Senate, that it will be unfair for her to contest a position zoned to the South even-though she is by birth from the South. This argument to me is puerile but sadly that was the decision of the party elders. It now stands that Senator Ekwunife is restricted to the Central where she is married.
When I called on Ekwunife to commiserate with her over the outcome of the primary election , she was chatty as ever and in high spirit. She told me to think nothing of her or her failed aspiration but to take a thought for the state and the people who indeed sacrificed and toiled for her. She wondered what will be the fate of those that placed all their hopes for a better future on her winning. When I asked her about her next move, she said she will need to rest and ease herself of stress but would work with others to ensure the party emerge victorious in the main election. That’s the spirit, that’s sportsmanship we all can emulate.
The choice of Ozigbo was a good bait for any objective mind hence he was embraced with relief.
He is not your everyday politician, he has a good private sector background as the former President of Transcorp Hotel, an enviable banking career and good academic record. He was reputably the best graduating student from his department and also a very humble man who listens more than he speaks. His background made him an easy sale and a good buy.
What PDP needs now is unity. The primary was an election where a winner must emerge. The outcome of the primary election shouldn’t cause so much bad blood and division that will cost the party victory in the main election. I will therefore urge those that lost-out to accept their loss in good spirit. They should recognize the hand of God in the choice of Ozigbo and embrace him.
In congratulating Ozigbo, I will encourage him to do all he can to pull the party together and mend the different cracks. His ability to manage the different forces in the party will be the first test of his leadership skill. I also will want him to understand that politics isn’t just about power grab but about service to the people.
All over Anambra State, in all the 21 local governments and 179 communities, the people needs are the same. They don’t want to be filthy rich like Ibeto . The don’t want to command too much money like ‘Oga ndi Oga. They understand the problem with politics and how politicians they elected ended up serving themselves and their cronnies instead of serving the people. They have seen how different leaders created different problems thereby making lives more difficult for them. At every stop and turn, when you look at the people, you will see their frustrations with our politics.
They just want to be able to put food on their table and feed their family without having to beg for handouts; they want good hospitals with well qualified health care practitioners and at a cost they can afford; they want shelter and they wantsomeone who understand their basic needs; someone who will create a good economy; who will provide the kind of functional and quality education that will enable them fit into the kind of emerging economy that has been created; they want someone who understand they need jobs when they can be employed; who understands they need to be paid for works they have done and that when they retire, they retire with respect and dignity. In other words , the civil servants and pensioners want their salaries, benefits and pensions paid as at when due. They don’t want stories about their salaries.
Those that are privately employed want someone who will create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive . They want fair play, justice and equity. They want to live in peace and security. These are the issues that should drive our politics. And people want to elect as governor a candidate that understand these issues as it affects them and who can assist in resolving them.