Sustaining the zoning pressures on APC, some non-partisan stakeholders and groups resolved that only political parties that select their candidate from Anambra North should be considered by Anambra voters.
Groups that threw their weight on zoning include: Anambra Union, comprising politicians, academics, retired public officers. The group led by former Health minister, Prof. ABC Nwosu, called on voters to support Anambra north complete the remaining four years.
While resolving to support any credible candidate from Anambra north on either APC or PDP, the union noted that Anambra Central having produced governor for 11 years through Senate Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi, “politicians from that zone should in the interest of fair play, not disrupt the zoning arrangement…”
State chapter of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo, at a joint meeting with traditional rulers and President General’s of the 183 autonomous communities of the state on May 16, 2017 at Awka, enjoined all political parties to pick their flag bearers from Anambra north for the next.
Anambra State Association of Trade Unions (ASATU): Representing all communities and towns in the state, through its President, Chief Alex Onukwe, said they believe in the sanctity of zoning as basis of political power sharing in the state.
Also, Anambra Traditional Rulers used the opportunity of their two-day yearly seminar to drum support for zoning. Speaking through Igwe, Dr. Emeka Iluno (Ifite Dunu) and Igwe Austin Ozoemena (Isiagu), the traditional ruler stressed that zoning “will not only engender peaceful politicking, but will also reduce cost and campaigns of calumny.”
Perhaps, the voice of second republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, from Anambra South Senatorial zone, came as the icing on the growing clamour for zoning of the governorship. Declaring that he remains a chief apostle of zoning at federal and state levels, Dr. Ekwueme contended that but for zoning, Tiv people would continue producing governors for Benue State.
Ekwueme, who made his stand known when members of Ohanaeze paid him a courtesy visit, pleaded with politicians in Anambra to allow Anambra north complete its tenure in the interest of equity, justice and fairplay. The former Vice President disclosed that his zone, Anambra South had had its turn through Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Chinwoke Mbadinuju, while Obi and Ngige had their stints from Anambra central.
It was perhaps to underscore the bias for zoning in the state that one of the two aspirants on APC, Dr. Chike Obidigbo decided to write the national leadership of APC. Obidigbo informed the party that “some leading political parties like APGA and PDP have all adopted zoning and seeking their candidates from Anambra north.
He declared: “The APC constitution in article 20 (v) provided for rotation of offices. I am hopeful that our great party, APC, will toe the line of choosing its candidate from Anambra north for the November 18 governorship election.”
Unsettling Impact Of IPOB
IF there is any political party that feels the impact of the alleged call by leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Mazi Nnamdi Kanu for a boycott of the November poll, it is the United Progressive Party (UPP).
There is no doubt that the agitation for a separate state of Biafra by youth brought momentum and enthusiasm into UPP. However, coming after the party’s national convention held in Awka a fortnight ago, the situation in UPP is that of guarded optimism and apprehension.
National chairman of the party, Chief Chekwas Okorie, rejoiced that although the convention was not a non-elective convention, “in its exercise of its powers as the highest authority of the party,” the convention ratified three landmark motions.
The motions included expanding the delegates to the state congress from three to five, upgrading the aims and objectives of UPP in article six of its constitution, viz; self determination, true federalism, devolution of power, resource control, referendum, state police, citizenship rights and release of prisoners of conscience among others.
Okorie reaffirmed that the policy of UPP to zone its presidential slot to the Southeast geo-political zone until the objective is achieved remains sacrosanct, stressing that the presidential candidate of UPP for the 2019 election would come from the zone.
The UPP national chairman expressed gratitude to God that the party “is the foremost and most credible opposition party in Nigeria that is rancor free, without the possibility of factionalization in the foreseeable future.” However, signs of possible unease emerged when it became obvious that as many as nine aspirants were lining up to fly the party’s flag.
Aspirants are engaged in accusations and counter accusation about a surreptitious tampering with the list of delegates to tilt the outcome of the governorship primary. Not that alone, words began to make the rounds that former Aviation Minister, Chief Osita Chidoka, one of those eyeing the UPP ticket has captured it even before the party primary.
Sources also alleged that Chidoka was merely holding forth for Senator Andy Uba so that in the unlikely event that the senator does not pick the APC ticket, he could pair up with him (Uba) as governorship running mate.
UPP has been adopted by most youth in the state as Biafra National Party, an association that helped in no small way to catapult its image as the party to beat in the Anambra governorship poll. It was against that background that some people claim that leaders of Southeast caucus of PDP have concluded plans to empty into UPP immediately Chidoka picks the ticket and ensure that they bounce back into reckoning.
However, the threat by IPOB to mobilise for the boycott of the November poll has dampened enthusiasm of the protagonists, even as Kanu is accused of secretly plotting the return of Governor Obiano for a second term, which is linked to his alleged exoneration of the governor of culpability in the massacre of some IPOB and MASSOB observing the May 30, 2016 remembrance day for those who died in the Biafra civil war.
While the threat against boycott has ushered some doubts about the poll, UPP has begun moves to undo the damaging rumours about hijack of delegates’ lists. One of UPP governorship aspirants, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, said it would be unthinkable for any person with corrupt influence to fly UPP flag, stressing that the party was programmed for good governance and inclusive politics.
Okonkwo declared that candidates are not picked on the basis of how much money he or she has but content and character, pointing out that when individuals fund their campaigns its gives room for the twin evils of impunity and corruption.
However, The Guardian gathered that the national leadership of UPP has sent a powerful delegation of national officers to douse the seeping animosities and ensure that the party holds free and fair primary election.