Anambra guber: Accord, INEC and Ifeatu’s eleventh-hour defection
When on August 11, 2021, Godwin Maduka, picked Obi Kenneth Ifeatu as his running mate on the platform of the Accord Party, members and party leadership were beside themselves with joy.
Maduka and Ifeatu had embarked on a number of campaign tours of the state, pledging better governance, but at what point the relationship failed is hard to say as the Obosi-born politicians has kept the reason for the divorcement to his chest.
Although some political observers say that it was not surprising to see deputy governorship candidate dump his party, as Nigerian politicians are capable of anything, the abandonment of one’s platform a few days to election is not common.
Okechukwu Odoh, who spoke to BusinessDay on the development said Ifeatu’s defection to the All Progressives Party (APC) ‘has a deeper meaning,” than can be imagined.
He however, described the movement “immoral” and “insensitive,” alleging that a huge offer he could not reject must have been dangled before him.
According to Odoh, “What we are seeing is sheer desperation on the part of APC to win Anambra State by all means. Only God knows how much Abuja is shelling out to prosecute that project. No amount of money is too much for them to win Anambra. They got a deputy governor and carried him to go see the President in Abuja. It takes a man of integrity to reject some carrots. I think that is what is happening. But it is shameful, to say the least.”
The Deputy Governorship candidate of Accord Party in the November 6 gubernatorial election, had last week defected to the APC, leaving, the party and the governorship candidate, Godwin Maduka, in the middle of nowhere.
Ifeatu was received into the embrace of Andy Ubah and other APC chieftains in the Anambra chapter of the party.
Taking a good laugh at the defection, Bartholomew Igwedibia, state chairman of the party, said Ifeatu lacked the locus standi to decamp to another political party, on the basis that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deadline for resignation or substitution of candidates was over.
He said that the Electoral Act only made it permissible for candidates to do so within a period of time and which has expired.
Igwedibia cited Sections 33, 34, 35 of the Electoral Act (As Amended) 2015, which states that “A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute it’s candidate pursuant to Section 31 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate.”
He added that by legal implications, he is the “deputy governorship candidate of the Accord Party because INEC cannot permit him to leave because the Electoral Body’s guidelines on movement of candidates of political parties is very clear.
“He went to the APC on his free volition, and not with members of Accord Party, who believe in Dr. Godwin Maduka and his chances to win the Anambra State governorship election.”
Ifeatu is director in Oasis Medical UK and also a director in Athantic Oil Services Ltd.
Athantic Oil Services Ltd is globally recognised for providing high tech engineering design, construction, maintenance and management.
He is a Knight, hails from Obosi, a devout Anglican, who had vied for the House of Representatives seat in 2015.
He is also a philanthropist, whose foundation, known as Ken Obi Initiative, has impacted positively on the lives of the people, with emphasis on human capacity development.
Maduka was commended for making a right choice of running mate, and the pair was adjudged as winning team, considering his political relevance in the State.
Ifeatu was expected to bring a huge electoral value as Obosi, his home town, has the largest voting population in Anambra State.
He, like Maduka, is also reputed for his huge humanitarian works which span across providing medical and educational support to the less-privileged across the local government areas of the state.
He is said to have supported several schools in the state, with educational facilities and equipment, which had gone a long way to improving and enhancing the poor state of infrastructure in several schools in the State.
He was also described as an effective grassroots mobiliser, and a man of impeccable character respected for his doggedness.
All eyes are on the INEC to take a speedy and decisive action as time is of essence.
It is also left to be seen what Accord and Maduka will do to resolve the nagging challenge.
While some observers converge on the belief that the development would cause the governorship candidate a momentary psychological trauma, some say that being a pain specialist, with six specialist hospitals in Las Vegas, United States of America, Maduka has the ability to soak in the shock and the pain.