On April 14, 2007, Andy Uba won the Anambra state governorship election. It was a landslide victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) But on June 14, same year, barely two weeks after he was sworn in, Uba, in one of the most controversial Supreme Court judgements, was asked to vacate his office. Not because he didn’t win the election. And he was not impeached. The final court ruled that Governor’s Obi’s tenure had not lapsed and that the Independent National Election Tribunal (INEC) was wrong to conduct the election.
Uba licked his wounds; digested his tragic fate and accepted the judgement even though he did not seem to agree with it.
When Anambra was up again for election in 2010, many thought that PDP would at least be kind to Uba considering the circumstances under which he lost his mandate. To be sure, every governor that his election was annulled in PDP states was given a chance to recontest. Cross River state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and then Edo state governor, Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor, removed by court pronouncements, recontested. The only difference between the two governors’ cases and Uba’s was that Uba had to wait for three years before another election while theirs was a matter of months.
But Andy Uba was given no chance to re-contest, to seek a return to an office he was compelled to vacate for no fault of his. The then Chairman of PDP, Vincent Ogbulafor acted like one who had scores to settle with the reticent former presidential assistant while the PDP leadership watched in either attitude of passivity or cold complicity.
The primary election that year was a charade. And before the dust could clear, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, a former Central Bank Governor, a respected scholar but a political neophyte, without structure and without political history was imposed on Anambra PDP as their candidate.
Other PDP aspirants felt that their party had put justice on the gallows and so left for other platforms to reinvigorate their aspirations and to seek their actualization. PDP votes in Anambra had consequently been bulkanised. It was a fatal self injury. And expectedly Soludo brought no solution nor healing. PDP lost Anambra state for a second time.
The question is: has PDP now learnt its lesson? Are they ready to allow Justice to prevail as it gets ready to organize its primary election? The signs appear ominous. History seems about to repeat itself. But this political tragedy can be avoided. Let us look at the unfolding drama.
PDP Versus INEC: IS HISTORY ABOUT TO REPEAT ITSELF
This time, PDP’s battle may not exactly be against a member. INEC is the object of its battle cry. The reason? The Chairman of Anambra state PDP recognized by INEC is not acceptable to PDP Acting National Working Committee and its chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur who has told anyone that cares to listen that it is not the mandate of INEC to recognize or impose a chairman on PDP. But therein lies the irony.
To begin with, that PDP until recently was working under an Acting NWC was simply due to INEC’s report which pointed out some defects in PDP’s last convention in terms of strict adherence to the party’s constitution. As a consequence of INEC’s observation and indeed report, the affected members of NWC were pressurized to resign while a mini convention was held on August 31, 2013. The purpose was to ensure that the convention was organized in absolute conformity with the party’s constitution and so to say, to correct the defects contained in INEC’s report. Infact, the PDP chairman, Tukur had gallantly asserted that the INEC report had validated his own election as chairman. He also accepted, pronto, INEC’s report that adjudged Adamawa state congress as illegal.
The stinging question now is, why is Anambra’s case different? At what point did Tukur realize that INEC’s report is no longer binding or is untenable? Why should INEC report be a testament to the authenticity of his election as Chairman while the same INEC report should be regarded as inconsequential and of no effect in Anambra state? Why should INEC report be valid in Adamawa, his home state and invalid in Anambra state? Is Justice about to be put in the purgatory once again?
WHAT PDP MUST DO TO AVOID SELF IMMOLATION
The caustic truth Tukur must appreciate is that the whole idea of pushing the name of Ken Emeakayi as Anambra state PDP chairman fractures the principle of logic, justice and importantly is in crass violation of PDP constitution. And to parade Tony Nwoye as PDP candidate is like saying the courts in Nigeria are comedians.
Once the state congress was conducted on March 17, 2012 and Ejike Ogbuebego was elected as substantive chairman, Emeakayi’s tenure as Acting Chairman automatically came to an end. This is the letter and spirit of PDP constitution and it remains inviolable.
That Emeakayi ran to the court on December 18, 2012 to obtain Exparte Order to restrain INEC from recognizing no one but himself changed absolutely nothing. In the first instance, the order was obtained nine months after PDP congress and it couldn’t have been retroactive and therefore could not displace a duly elected chairman. But he would now cause Anambra PDP to embark on judicial odyssey to seek authenticity as a rash of court orders and judgements over leadership followed. While a Federal Capital Territory High Court Judgement of July 5, 2012 between Emma Mbamalu and PDP declared null and void the ward, Local Government and State Congresses that produced Ogbuebego as chairman, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt in a suit No. FHC/PH/CS/213/2013 between Ejike Ogbuebego & 2 Ors vs PDP and INEC also restrained INEC from having anything to do with Emeakayi.
If Anambra PDP had to be rescued from this cacophony of judgements, INEC had to be the messiah as the court appeared to have been drawn into this complex and intricate political web and their judgements seemed to contradict one another and so seemingly ineffectual.
Since INEC was not a party to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory that nullified the election of the substantive chairman, Ejike Ogbuebego, the PDP Chairman, Alhaji Tukur should see a leeway in there to permanently resolve the Anambra PDP crisis as INEC was not bound by that judgement.
And since INEC itself had affirmed emphatically that it did not monitor the process that ushered in Emeakayi as chairman of PDP in Anambra state, the only way to assure justice is to recognize Ejike Ogbuebego as the authentic chairman which indeed he is.
Tukur’s rigid stance that Emeakayi is the authentic chairman, laughable as it seemed has finally produced two parallel congresses. But a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has made it clear now is Andy Uba is the bonafide PDP candidate.
Tukur’s misguided attempt to suspend him and some of his supporters, has also hit the rock as another Federal High Court in Abuja has quashed and lampooned his fickle letter.
As things are, Tukur, man of Africa Business Round Table must accept Andy Uba as PDP candidate or ruin the party in Anambra state. The burden of the battle with some PDP governors should be enough yoke for him to grapple it. He must let Uba have some fresh air.