2010 Anambra elections: focus on INEC-PDP not on Gov. Obi-sponsored ASA-USA “inspection” Christmas trip
By Ken Kemnagum Okorie
Houston, December 9, 2009:
So much blood has boiled unnecessarily over whether or not a U.S-based Nigerian group, Anambra State Association-USA (ASA-USA), should accept sponsorship from Governor Peter Obi of their embattled state of Anambra in Nigeria, for a “fact-finding trip” during the upcoming Christmas holidays by a delegation of ASA-USA members selected from cities across the US. Since early summer of 2009, supporters and opponents of this reported subsidy have traded accusations on IgboEvents@yahoogroups.com and AnambraPolitics@yahoogroups.com, both of which are powered by USAfricaonline.com, as well as other Internet forums.
In contention is whether sponsorship of the trip by the incumbent governor, whose achievements the team is billed to “inspect,” compromises the independence of ASA-USA or presents other appearance of conflict.
Ordinarily, the debate should be an internal matter for ASA-USA and Anambra indigenes, not warranting much interference. But as I look at the scenario currently developing in the preparations for the election of the next governor for Anambra in February 2010, the “fact-finding” mission and its good intentions may well be superseded by other factors. If the permutations currently shaping up in the election materialize, neither the inspection nor governor Obi’s accomplishments (or the lack thereof) will make a difference.
I believe Governor Obi has performed well and demonstrated that even in Nigeria an elected official (Ala-Igbo in particular) can actually deliver the dividends of governance to the people. The testimonials of many observers, partisan and independents alike, confirm this notion. But am afraid none of this will likely make a difference, because of what I see coming.
In the past day or two, the Labour Party, one of several contesting in the election, has reportedly confirmed as its candidate, Mr. Andy Uba. Uba, former aide to Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo, is the controversial contender who sought to side-step the final ruling of Nigeria’s Supreme Court in his effort to claim a legally unsustainable mandate to succeed incumbent Governor Obi. Obi’s term ends next in March 2010.
The Independent Elections Commission (INEC) had awarded the governorship to Mr. Uba in the 2007 elections although Mr. Obi had not used his term. Both the Elections Tribunal, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court repeatedly invalidated the decision because it encroached on the lawful tenure of Mr. Obi, which had earlier been truncated by INEC’s unlawful imposition of Dr. Chris Ngige, another losing candidate in an earlier 2003 elections. The Supreme Court then restored Mr. Obi to serve out his full 4-year term.
Injecting Mr. Uba into the contest at this dying minute of the campaign in place of the previously certified Labour Party candidate is only the first step in a web of intrigue and manipulation yet to unfold. The next step will be an election which INEC will give every coloration of relative order and propriety.
The third step to follow will be a master rigging of the election results by the INEC, who will then declare Andy Uba winner. It will not matter how the people of Anambra actually vote. The final step will be a Governor Andy Uba deflecting back to PDP from where he started.
PDP was determined to use Andy Uba to regain executive control of Anambra through the Appeals Courts. That did not happen for the simple reason that the Ikemba, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu spoke up. The former Biafran leader is the only voice in Ala-Igbo that Nigeria will heed. No other Nigerian leader has his following. No other Nigerian has his influence or charisma. Even his worst detractors and those who thoroughly hate his politics are mindful of this fact.
Few weeks ago, the Enugu Court of Appeals was about to truncate democracy in Anambra back to PDP via Andy Uba, except that President Yar’Adua, from my sources, listened to Ikemba’s warning and intervened before the damage was done. Now that Yar’Adua is incapacitated, Obasanjo is strongly in the driver’s seat again and is orchestrating all the PDP maneuvers in his capacity as the Party boss. It is for purposes such as this that Obasanjo carefully handpicked a sickly Yar’Adua to succeed him as President after his term expired in 2007. It is a chess game in which Obasanjo’s hatred for Ndi-Igbo and Northern distrust of the same Ndi-Igbo have converged.
Enter the Soludo factor (rather make belief). Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Obasanjo’s appointee as Central Bank of Nigeria Governor (until a few months ago), is now the flag bearer of the PDP in the Anambra contest. He is not and has never been a favorite of the PDP machine.
He is someone in whom the Presidency and their operatives finds some favor, and are behind his drive to be the PDP man in Anambra. But the Northern establishment is also not impressed with Soludo. They proved this when there was an attempt to reinstate Soludo as Governor of the Central Bank, but the establishment put its foot down against the move. Soludo was history as far as the Bank was concerned. They still will not like him as Governor in Anambra. They believe Soludo is corrupt and recently orchestrated unsavory allegations against him in a currency-printing contract with an Australian firm.
The North’s objective in the Anambra gubernatorial exercise is to make Soludo pay back much of the money he made from his Central Bank position. Soludo will not smell the government seat in Awka, even if he prevails in the current challenge against his PDP ticket. That challenge is equally orchestrated as part of the larger intrigue, and the Uba brothers (Andy and Chris) cannot likely be distant from it, for they remain the PDP hatchet bearers in Anambra.
Unfortunately, Governor Obi will be the ultimate fall guy in this game because the rigging machine of the INEC & Co (fronting for Obasanjo and PDP) will do their math. The real loser, however, will be the good people of Anambra and indeed all of Ndi-Igbo who will again be robbed a chance to choose their own leader.
More importantly, as Anambra goes, so goes the rest of Ala-Igbo. Recall that I have always maintained that Anambra is symbolically targeted for destabilization so it will not have clarity to get its house in order much less effectively assert any claims in the larger Nigerian game.
As home to Odumegwu Ojukwu the Biafran leader, Nigeria’s first President Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Second Republic Vice President Dr. Alex Ekwueme, First Republic Speaker of the House Dr. Nwafor Orizu, and several other icons of Igbo and Nigeria’s political history, successfully keeping Anambra unstable keeps the rest of Ala-Igbo in check. Behind this calculus are Obasanjo and the other generals who fought on the federal side of the Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967-1970. Thus, a whole lot more is at play in the next Anambra elections than just choosing a governor.
Under this scenario (and given the circumstances), I believe ASA-USA (and all Igbo) would be well advised to keep keen eyes on Prof. Maurice Iwu’s INEC in the Anambra State elections, not on “inspecting” from America Governor Obi or his accomplishments, for none of those will eventually matter where it really counts.
•Okorie, an attorney, is a member of the editorial board of Houston-based USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com since 1995 and founding secretary-general of the World Igbo Congress.
Related essay on Anambra Politics by USAfricaonline.com Washington DC-based columnist Okey Mbonu, titled Danger of Failure of Anambra State for Igbo Civilization