Anambra State is fast becoming the home of the good, the bad and the ugly. Recently, the state has been in the news mostly for the wrong reasons and many unsettling issues surrounding the coming governorship election scheduled for November have only served to heighten it. Political party primaries for the governorship election have come and gone but have equally created very wide latitude for confusion and conflict. The three leading political parties capable of producing the next governor for the state, namely, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) are now riddled with crisis and court cases.
The constitutional requirement for becoming the governor of a state does not stipulate that the candidates must be indigenous to the states where they are contesting. For the avoidance doubt, here are the extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution for qualification to become a governor: Section 177 explicitly states: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if (a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; (b) he has attained the age of thirty-five years; (c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and (d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”.
Indeed, there is no provision for the candidates to be indigenous to the states to qualify to contest. Many say that this lacuna may be what the Chief Edozie Njoku faction is exploiting by organizing primaries which produced him, a man from Imo state, as a candidate, which means he could become the governor of Anambra state since the window for substitution has since closed up. Politicians have really been doing the dance of the absurd with the Anambra governorship election.
What is more, the regulations of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, are such that only the national chairman of a political party can submit the names of the flag bearer and his or her running mate. Furthermore, it is political parties that actually stand for elections in the current dispensation and not the candidates per se. What this means is that while the election may go on, it may ultimately be the Supreme Court that will determine which of these candidates will become the governor.
Here are the possible and plausible scenarios for Anambra state: All Progressive Congress: Senator Andy Uba is the candidate so far recognized by the INEC but one of the aspirants, the Executive Secretary of the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, George Moghalu, is in court challenging the candidacy of Andy Uba and the validity of APC primaries. As a matter of fact, George Moghlau is asking the courts to even disqualify his own party from participating in the governorship election owing to the way and manner the primaries were conducted. If George Moghalu’s court case succeeds, the APC may not have a candidate in the Anambra governorship election and Andy Uba may also not become Governor even if he and his party win.
The Peoples Democratic Party on its part has two candidates laying claim to being the legitimate candidate of the party. The multiple court cases by the PDP contestants forced the INEC not to publish any of the candidates when it first released the list of candidates. Two rival primaries held under the auspices of the PDP produced the former President of the Transcorp Group, Valentine Ozigbo, and the rival primaries produced a former senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and senior brother of Andy Uba, by name, Ugochukwu Uba. As it stands, no one is certain who the candidate of PDP is between Val Ozigbo and Ugochukwu Uba. The Supreme Court will also decide it and either man will become governor if the PDP wins.
Perhaps the most interesting is that of the ruling party in Anambra state, APGA, where three factions are laying claim to producing the authentic party executive committee. The three factions are respectively led by Dr. Victor Oye, Hon. Jude Okeke and Chief Edozie Njoku. The three factions are in court, each trying to prove why its executive committee is the authentic one. Without going into the nitty-gritty of the cases to avoid being prejudicial, it is Dr. Victor Oye’s executive committee that produced the former CBN governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, as candidate; while Hon. Jude Okeke’s faction produced a serving member of House Reps, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji whose name was first published by INEC before being replaced with Soludo; and Chief Edozie Njoku who apparently produced himself in his faction’s primaries despite the fact that he hails from another state (Imo).
It is important to note here that Edozie Njoku hails from Imo State and if the courts uphold him as the authentic chairman of APGA and since he is the candidate produced by his own primaries, it stands to reason that he hopes to become governor of Anambra State since the extant constitutional provision for qualification of candidates for governorship does not include one being an indigene of the state he or seeks to govern. This novel development , though could be a watershed if it materializes, will open a new vista in the nation’s democracy, Many however believe that the man Njoku is only upping his bargaining power and not necessarily positioning to become a governor position of Anambra state.
As stated earlier, though the court cases may not stop the election, the situation has made it rather very difficult to identify the candidates of these leading political parties. For a state that goes with the slogan, ‘Light of the Nation’, this is not a good example for the rest of the country. Many attribute the kind of politics played in Anambra to too many rich persons and relatively high social exposure. But even if this is true, the two factors can still be better deployed if the citizens of the state can learn inclusive politics and play down their individualism. The billions of Naira that aspirants from Anambra state commit to purchase forms of political parties can be better channeled to development and empowerment of the less privileged ones.
Indeed, nothing is settled in the Anambra governorship election. But it promises to be yet another election where the courts will decide who will eventually become the governor. Only the candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, who has all the trappings of a dark horse, is certain of his candidacy and the motley of other political parties and their teeming candidates do not seem to stand much chance.
So, all eyes are justifiably on the three leading political parties now enmeshed in crisis and ridiculing the prime state.
· Dr. Law Mefor is a Senior Fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought; Tel.: +234- 905 642 4375 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on twitter @LawMefor1.