Anambra central election: To be or not to be?

The tension has continued to heighten. Emotions are still high, following the intrigues that had characterised the Anambra Central senatorial re-run election.

Despite the speculations from stakeholders about the date of the election and those who are qualified to contest, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has continued to keep sealed lips.

This logjam in Anambra Central senatorial zone, arose on December 7, 2015, following the nullification of Senator Uche Ekwunife’s election by the Appeal Court sitting in Enugu.

The court said that the process that brought Ekwunife into the fray abinitio was faulty.

But the Supreme Court in its judgment to determine the authentic leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which had been in crisis over the years, declared Ejike Oguebego as the chairman of the party.

Based on the Supreme Court decision and the Court of Appeal judgment, INEC declared that the PDP would not partake in the re-run election.

The pronouncement forced Ekwunife to dump the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC). It had downed on her that the PDP was playing pranks in retaining her as its candidate.

However, despite the battle put up by Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to get Ekwunife to replace him in the election, the leadership of the APC denied her the ticket.

Rather, the party preferred Lady Sharon Ikeazor, who is believed to have served the party meritoriously since the merger that gave birth to the APC.

The intrigues did not go down well with members of both parties in Anambra, as different groups have continued to canvass for their preferred candidates.

Former Governor Peter Obi and the APC went to court to challenge INEC’s decision to exclude the parties from the contest. Obi’s application to be joined in Obiora Okonkwo’s case was thrown out.

The APC had insisted that Ikeazor was its candidate for the election. Similarly, the PDP is still battling to be included also in the re-run election. But, INEC maintains that both parties are out of the race.

The only party that currently has the wherewithal to win the contest is the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Its flag bearer in the election, Chief Victor Umeh, is currently traversing the nooks and crannies of the zone, to secure the support of the electorates.

Umeh was reported to have been arrested by the Department of State Service (DSS) last week, for allegedly calling President Mohammadu Buhari names during his campaign rallies and for allegedly sponsoring the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which is agitating for an independent state.

Umeh has continued to accuse former Governor Obi of being behind his arrest by the DSS.

But has Obi denied the accusation, saying Umeh is being hunted by his past.

For now, no date has been fixed for the re-run election, which INEC postponed indefinitely on March 2, 2016, three days to the election date, following the Federal High Court ruling that the PDP should be included in the race.

The Abuja Federal High Court ruling apparently boxed INEC to a corner, because the commission has continued to play hide and seek since then.

When contacted on this issue, INEC’S image maker in Anambra, Mr. Frank Egbo, said it is only the headquarters of INEC in Abuja that has the final say on the matter.

He added: “We are not aware that April 2 has been fixed for the election or any other date for that matter. These are the opinions of various individuals and you cannot stop anybody from airing his or her view.”

Anambra PDP Chairman, Ejike Oguebego, told The Nation that any other person claiming the candidacy of the party is wasting his or her time. He said the party’s candidate remains Senator Annie Okonkwo, based on the Supreme Court judgment.

He said people like Obi, Obiora Okonkwo, Sylvester Okonkwo and others should forget about the Anambra Central senatorial ticket for the re-run election.

For Umeh, the Anambra Central senatorial re-run has been practically won, despite the number of contestants from smaller parties in the race.

However, Umeh continues to face serious opposition within his party, owing to what has been described as the numerous atrocities he committed when he was the party’s National Chairman.

Such atrocities, some opponents in the party say, were his alleged trading of candidates for the local government election in 2014, misappropriation of the party’s funds, among others.

But, APGA State Chairman, Sir Norbert Obi, said the party is ready for the Anambra Central re-run election, despite the recent court order and INEC’s postponement.

The APC is not relenting either. Its Anambra State Secretary, Mr. Chukwuma Agufugo, believes the party is battle ready for the re-run election.

But, it is not clear now whether the election will still hold, as no date has been fixed for it.

The candidates appear to be ready for the battle, but the parties are yet to come to terms with the elections umpire’s indecision, which has continued to heighten tension among the stakeholders.

With the elimination of Ekwunife from the race, unless the PDP fields somebody like Peter Obi, it is likely to be an easy ride for Umeh and his ruling APGA.


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