By Lateef Ibrahim
It is a truism that the Anambra State governorship election, which will be conducted to elect a successor to Governor Willie Obiano of the state, who has been piloting its affairs for over seven years now, will take place on November 6, this year.
This is because the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has already okayed that date, barring any unforseen circumstance(s) that may necessitate a change in date.
Although, the State is presently under the control of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, but the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as well as the ruling party at the centre, All Progressives Congress, APC, from all indications, are doing all thing legally possible, to win the state come Saturday, November 6.
The quest to win the Anambra State governorship election is beyond just coming victorious in the state for the political parties. It will, no doubt, speak volume or serve as a pointer/signal as to the direction things will go politically in the South-East geo-political come the 2023 general election.
Already, both the PDP and APC have slated their governorship primaries to pick their respective candidates for the Anambra governorship election for June 26, this year.
The PDP, for instance, spent Monday and Tuesday last week (April 12 and 13 respectively) in screening the sixteen aspirants who purchased the party’s nomination and expression of interest forms at its Wadata House National Secretariat in Abuja.
The aspirants screened included; Senator Uche Ekwunife, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, Mr Godwin Ezeemo, Mr Valentine Ozigbo, Hon. Chris Azubogu,
Okeke Walter Ubaka, Barr. (Mrs) Chidi Onyemelukwe, Mr Tony Nwoye, Mr Winston Udeh and Dr Ifedi Okwena.
Others were; Mr Godwin Maduka, Mrs Ekwochi Genevieve, Mr Ugochukwu Uba, Mr Emeka Etiaba, Hon Nzeribe Marcellinus Chukwumaeze and Chief Maduafokwa Olisakwe Johnny Eisenhower.
Each of the aspirants coughed out the sum of twenty-one (21) million naira to obtain the two forms. This is aside from another five (5) million naira each of them paid at the Anambra State office of the party.
The responsibility/mandate of screening the aspirants was given to a former Governor of Kogi State and pilot, Captain Idris Wada and four others.
Wada, at the end of the screening exercise, confidently declared that his committee had done a thorough job that is good enough for any of the candidates that emerges to scale judicial hurdles, should they arise.
Captain Wada, whose committee began sitting at exactly 9am on the first and second day and sat till 7pm on each of the two days, told journalists at the end
screening exercise that all the aspirants were made of quality stuffs.
The former Kogi State governor said, “I am happy to state that we have completed the physical exercise of examining the aspirants who have come up for the gubernatorial elections in Anambra state, under our great party, the PDP. There were 16 aspirants”.
The committee screened ten aspirants on the first day and six on the last day.
Continuing, he said, “Yesterday (Monday) we were able to interview and interact with 10 of them and today the last day), we have completed interactions with the remaining six.
“All the aspirants were outstanding individuals and we believe that whoever emerges eventually as the candidate of our party, after the primaries, will be a credible, very strong candidate who will help our party to win the elections.
“We will compile our report on each of the aspirants and then forward our recommendations to the National Working Committee.
“I believe that with a thorough work we have done, any candidates that emerges from our party will come out strong well qualified, no misdemeanors, no issues will be raised as to his/her qualifications.
“They are people of experience, and they will be able to impress the people of Anambra State to elect them as the governor for the state under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party PDP”, he said.
Speaking on what the screening committee has put in place to forestall a repeat of the Bayelsa State’s experience where a governor-elect, was disqualified as a result of the certificate of his running mate, Wada said, “You must look at the dedication and passion which we have applied to this exercise, we have been very thorough, very detailed.
“We asked several questions, which were efficient, you know efficiency is a factor of time and productivity.
“So we have worked very hard to examine all the documents thoroughly we are being guided by recent Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High court decisions on candidates.
“We believe that the job we have done is thorough enough for any of the candidates that emerge to scale judicial hurdles, should they arise.
“Nobody came to us with bogus certificates or documentations that we could not verify. We used the means available to us to ensure that documents that were examined were thoroughly examined and they were confirmed to be authentic.
“We had no incidence of any false certificate or fake certificates or anything like that. And my committee members are all very experienced politicians and highly educated individuals. So we are confidence of the job we have done for our party”, he confidently declared.
He explained that the mandate given to his committee by the National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP was to examine these sixteen (16) aspirants , “and we have done that successfully”.
According to him, “Anything beyond what we have done is up for the NWC and they have people or experience and knowledge to help them in determining who is suitable to be deputy governor”.
Reacting to the issue of possible consensus candidate among the aspirants, Captain Wada said, “It did not come up directly because out mandate is to examine then (aspirants) and their documentations and see whether they are suitable.
“But as leaders of our party, as committed members of the PDP, we discussed with them on possibility of working together for total support of whoever emerges after the primaries and we will convey some of our observations to the NWC for their decisions. But consensus candidacy was not part of our mandate. We did not dabble into that’.
Answering a question as to which aspect(s) of the committee’s assignment needed to be improved upon, the former Governor of Kogi state said, “To be quite honest, this is the most thorough screening exercise I have seen in PDP.
“The National Working Committee and the Office of the National organizing Secretary have organized screening in PDP now in a well documented way, where you are guided on things you should do to make sure that you don’t fall into some of the mistakes of the past, because this is the brief we got for the screening and we followed it to the letter.
“It’s a document published by the National Organising Secretary’s office, we followed it to the letter, and it guided us properly as to how to interact with the aspirants to ensure that a thorough job was done.
“In terms of improvement I don’t really have any comment at this stage, we’ll see at the end of our report if we will include any recommendations we have for improvement.
“What is happening now is about the highest quality I’ve seen and I really commend the office of national Organising Secretary and the National Working Committee for taking the pains to produce a detailed guidelines for members of screening committees of our party, they’ve done a great job”.
Pressed as to when the outcome or report of his committee will be made public, Wada retorted, “I think in a few weeks, like, you know, I can’t be more specific, because we have to sit down, write the report and detail all the observations we have, and then conveyed it to them”.
Pressed further, he said, “I think in about two weeks, we should be able to submit a full report, I don’t want to be more specific than that”.
With about a week already gone out of the two weeks promised for the report of the screening committee to be made public, the question remains, who will succeed the screening and who will not? Time, certainly, will tell.