Of eleventh hour defection and fatal gamble in Anambra
The just concluded Anambra off-season gubernatorial election was not only lost by parties’ candidates that were trounced by Chukwuma Soludo, but also some politicians who had dumped their various parties for the All Progressives Congress (APC) shortly before the poll.
For the decampees, the APC had very bright chances of winning the election because of the Federal might they thought, perhaps, would be deployed in Andy Uba’s favour.
The defectors saw it happen in some states where off-season gubernatorial elections held in the past, and they believed there was nothing stopping the APC.
They also thought that their movement to the broom party ahead of 2023 would help them position for juicy portfolios, not only in Anambra, but in the entire South East geo-political zone, especially now that there is a sing song that the zone should hook up to the mainstream, by ensuring that it empties all the states into APC.
In a release announcing the rejection of the Anambra election result, signed by Jerry Ugokwe, spokesperson of Senator Andy Uba Campaign Organisation last week, it said that Uba was a victim of widespread electoral fraud and manipulation by INEC in cahoots with the Governor Willie Obiano administration and the security forces deployed to oversee the Anambra State governorship election.
Uba and the campaign group were said to have expressed shock that despite the mass exodus of defectors from the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and other parties to APC, the party still lost the election.
“It is surprising that APGA that lost almost 80 percent of its stalwarts through defection to the APC before the election came out ‘victorious’. A sitting APGA Deputy Governor, seven members of the House of Representatives, 10 members of the Anambra State House of Assembly, the APGA party’s member of Board of Trustees, many serving SAs, SSAs, in addition to a serving PDP Senator all defected to the APC very timely before the election, yet, APGA emerged ‘victorious.’ This is quite ridiculous!” the Campaign organisation said.
According to Ugokwe, the spokesperson, “From all indications, the only people remaining in APGA at the time of the election were Governor Obiano and his household and a few staff of the Government House as well as Prof. Soludo and his household but majority of the electorates in Anambra State had moved to the APC. There was definitely no way the carcass of APGA could have defeated the APC without the active collusion and manipulation by INEC and the Obiano Administration.”
Some of the high profile defections gave the APC the hope that the election was theirs to lose.
For instance, Joy Emordi, a former member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had on August 4, dumped the umbrella party and joined the APC. She was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja in a rousing ceremony.
The same month, on the 26th August, Stella Oduah, a serving senator and former minister of Aviation, also dumped the PDP, for APC.
She had melted into the embrace of Mai Mala Buni, chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and governor of Yobe State; Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, governor of Kebbi State and chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum; Hope Uzodimma, Imo State governor, and Ovie Omo-Agege, deputy president of the Senate, who received her.
On October 13, less than one month to the election, Governor Uzodinma again led Nkem Okeke, deputy governor of Anambra State, to President Buhari, where he officially declared for the APC.
Other aides of Governor Obiano and some members of the state House of Assembly dreamt of greener pastures in the broom party and jumped.
After a week, exactly on October 21, Obi Kenneth Ifeatu, the deputy governorship candidate of Accord Party, left the party and the governorship candidate in the cold as he moved over to the APC.
Unlike others that were received in Abuja, Ifeatu was given an exciting welcome by Andy Ubah and a host of other APC stalwarts in the state chapter of the party.
The manner of Ifeatu’s defection gave reason for Accord to suspect that the man must have been lured with some irresistible offers.
As soon as Soludo was announced the winner of the election, some commentators advised Okeke to honourably tender his resignation.
Many Nigerian politicians have often been described as opportunists. They are restless and like portfolio investors, they invest, take their profit and move on.
The Nigeria’s political history book is populated with names of fickle-minded politicians and those who operate on the basis of “no friend in the jungle.” For this set of people, “The end justifies the means.”
Since the return of the country to civil rule in 1999, many politicians have changed from one political party to another. In fact, some have changed up to three, four times. They lack ideology, but motivated by avarice and self.
Although there are 18 registered political parties in the country, they are populated by people who have been members of either PDP or APC.
Since 2014, a number of political actors have crossed from the PDP for APC, from the APC to PDP and are ready to move again.
Little wonder the Nigerian electorate believes there is no difference between the two parties.
For some time now, some actors in the APC say the South-East zone has continued to suffer neglect from the central government because of its refusal to join the mainstream.
Historically, since 1999, the South East zone has been under PDP. But the music began to change when Peter Obi won the governorship election in 2007 on the APGA platform.
Then, Rochas Okorocha, who was governor of Imo State on the APGA platform, dragged the state chapter of APGA to fuse into APC in 2013.
At Okorocha’s exit, Imo briefly returned to PDP, but the victory of Hope Uzodinma at the Supreme Court also paved the way for the APC to be in charge of the state.
In a bid to perhaps, draw the attention of the Federal Government to South East ahead of the general election in 2023, particularly in relation to the clamour for power shift to the zone, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, who was elected on the PDP platform defected to the APC.
With neither the APC nor PDP saying anything on zoning of the presidency, the thinking among some Igbo politicians is that having a strong APC base in South East could put them on a better stead to take position.
This, pundits say, could be the reason for the gale of defection that hit Anambra shortly before the election.
Attempting an explanation why the APC which had been tipped to be the favourite by several polls owing to the number of influential persons the party wooed to join forces with Senator Uba, a pundit said two factors were responsible.
The analyst said, “Party stigma: This has to do with the avoidance of something because of bad reputation. It is possible that APC did not emerge the winner because Anambra people dislike the party. In fact, as it stands now, it is almost impossible to secure any political seat in the state under the platform of APC.
“Unworthy candidate: This could be another reason why the APC failed in Anambra 2021 gubernatorial election. The flag bearer, Senator Andy Uba could have been perceived as a stooge to some people. Also, it is said that the senator once contributed to a political upheaval in the state when Dr. Chris Ngige was kidnapped while he was the governor of the state.”
The observer further said that with the way the election turned out, some of those who defected to the APC could still either return to PDP, as according to him, “the Nigerian crop of politicians lacks self-respect.”