In what can be described as a deliberate attempt at predicting the outcome of Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra State, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, at the weekend said his party may lose in the competition. Ojo M. Maduekwe x-rays the import of his statement
From his comments at the weekend in Awka during the campaign kick-off for the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tony Nwoye, it should leave no one in doubt that the PDP as headed by President Goodluck Jonathan, working in proxy through the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, may be acting out a script for 2015.
In the company of some of the party’s big weights like the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremmadu, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, Gombe State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwabo, and many others, Tukur said winning the November 16 Anambra election come this Saturday, was going to be a difficult one for the PDP.
Tukur, who presented the PDP flags to Nwoye and his running mate, Dr. Amamchukwu Ezike, still urged members of the party to join hands with the candidates to deliver the state to the PDP. For this mandate, even the party leaders had boldly stormed Anambra to campaign for Nwoye, who is supposed to, with the aid of Anambra youths, “return the state to the party.”
Why then was Tukur jittery over PDP’s chances at the poll? Preparing Nigerians mind to a possible outcome of the governorship election and casting shadows on the candidature of Nwoye, Tukur spoke from both sides of the mouth. Before then, the election in the state, same as other elections the PDP participated in had always been the party’s to lose.
Until Anambra 2013 happened, beliefs inside the umbrella family was that no party had been better equipped and with the capacity to lead the Nigerian people in any of the three tiers of government – the federal, state or local government areas – than the PDP. Suddenly, Tukur feels the party may not have fielded its best candidate for the Anambra election.
Every other political party is confident that its candidate would win the election, even the non-existent parties, except the PDP. According to some political experts, accepting defeat even before the election means that the PDP is either not confident of its candidate in the person of Nwoye or that the alleged agreement between it and the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the state is true.
The latter seems to be the case, because why would the PDP field Nwoye, whom some experts feel is a poor choice as against Chief Nicholas Ukachukwu? Why would the party spend so much in fighting the court cases brought about by Ukachukwu; why would the party chairman, after winning in the courts and kicking off its campaign that was attended by the party’s bigwigs, suddenly lose faith in the party’s chances?
When examined from the surface, Tukur’s comment could be mistaken as sincere. Some analysts, in reasoning, wondered how a party that has only a week to sell its candidate to the people hopes to win an election that its opponents had put in time and resources to campaign and canvass for votes?
For this school, the PDP would be deceiving itself if it thought it could win the Anambra election. Aside Nwoye’s candidature not being a very good one when compared to someone like Senator Chris Ngige of the All Progressives Congress (APC); it is believed that the option open to the PDP is the merger it seems to have with APGA.
However, if the agreement with APGA is true, then the question is: why would a political party tear down its own house and deliberately pave the way for another to win? Should this be the case, it is because the compromising party, which is the PDP, might have something to gain. Indeed it does.
Take note that APGA, like the Labour Party whose candidate is Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, is an appendage of the PDP. The governors of both Anambra and Ondo State remain good friends of President Jonathan. Thus, according to political analysts, whether the PDP wins the governorship election or not on Saturday, it does not affect the party’s political fortunes come 2015.
Rather, many have said this was the reason for the crisis in the PDP in Anambra which is believed to have been orchestrated by the party itself. Before the Supreme Court judgment that put paid to the crisis that trailed the emergence of Nwoye as the valid candidate of the PDP, the party has been in and out of crisis over who flies its flag for the Anambra election.
The idea of Anambra being an APGA controlled state, Observers reckoned, is only on the pages of newspapers. Although the party defeated the PDP and has for two terms governed the state, it has largely remained an appendage of the PDP.
The interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, had voiced the fear of PDP’s support for APGA to win the election when during an interview, he said “We are not unaware that the game plan of the PDP and the federal government is to rubbish and humiliate APC in the November 16 election.” Although this was before Nwoye emerged PDP candidate, nothing seems to have changed.
Mohammed was also quoted as saying that the APC was privy to information that both the PDP and APGA were colluding to arrange for compromised INEC staff to monitor the elections. “We also know that they intend to send two known riggers – two notorious riggers in INEC to go and supervise the election in Anambra. It won’t work. They should be ready to kill many people in Anambra if they think that what they did in Delta will work.”
The crisis that plagued the PDP over who amongst the trio of Tony Nwoye, Nicholas Ukachukwu and Senator Andy Uba, was to represent it in the election, was believed to have been deliberately flamed. Early last month, the crisis resulted in a defection of party members to APGA. Led by a party chieftain in the state, Chief Arthur Nwandu, who was also a governorship aspirant for the 2013 election, it was reported that about 1,500 members of the PDP defected to APGA.
In the report, Nwandu said they decided to leave PDP because of the lingering crisis at both the state and national levels. “PDP, for quite some time, has been having a lot of inherent problems which did not start as a result of this election. The crisis has also extended to the national leadership of the party which nobody knows when it would be settled.”
The crisis in the party had also led to the breakaway of the New PDP, some of whom are already considering defecting to the opposition APC. The G-7 governors in their outline of grievances for their actions have pointed fingers at Tukur and his style of leadership; the divide and rule tactics that is typical of the PDP.
Also, if the PDP crisis is interpreted correctly in the light of Tukur’s recent comment, then the APC must be careful to not step on banana peel in its bid to accommodate the New PDP in its fold. Observers compared what is happening in Anambra between the PDP and APGA to the game of chess, where one player allows an opponent take his pawn so that he could get closer to taking the opponents king and win the game. The significance of APGA winning the governorship election is that it could rob-off on PDP in winning the 2015 presidential election.
2015 is the ultimate prize and the fingers of discord in the Anambra PDP points to the presidency and the national leadership of the party under Tukur, which continues to fight for the interest of President Jonathan. Politics in Nigeria has never been about the people but personal interests. Many a time, the Nigerian public makes the mistake of going to the polls believing that it could elect someone who would champion its interest.
Take for instance, the many politicians in Nigeria who make promises during campaigns to garner the people’s votes. They initially appear to be championing the masses interest or pretend to do so until they get into office. In like manner, it is believed that this is the path Tukur has chosen to walk preparatory to 2015 by playing out a script to deliver the presidential election to the PDP, with the incumbent President Jonathan securing the mandate to seek re-election.
Whichever way the Anambra election turns out, it does appear there is an understanding that is clear only to the top echelon of the party and which would be defended on the crest of rule of law as well as free, credible and fair election. Although such a plan, observers believe, is only feasible in a situation where all the democratic norms and culture are jettisoned; the prevailing situation in the state however suggests otherwise and that is why analysts see the Anambra election more as a test case for the electoral body than previous experiences.