As the major political parties and aspirants prepare for the 2021 governorship election in Anambra State, Associate Editor, SAM EGBURONU and Southeast Bureau Chief, NWANOSIKE ONU, report that the controversies that trailed Bianca Ojukwu’s defeat in the last Anambra South Senatorial primary of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) may haunt the party in the forthcoming elections
Since Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu’s widow, Bianca Ojukwu, lost the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Anambra South Senatorial District’s primary ticket in very controversial circumstances, the party has suffered deep division in the state as some ardent Ojukwu followers say her wife’s political ‘humiliation’ amounts to a big dent on the larger-than-life image of the late leader.
So, as the race to succeed Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State in 2021 gathers momentum, there is palpable fear that unless APGA succeeds in pacifying aggrieved political interests, Bianca Ojukwu’s supporters may see the forthcoming elections as the payback time.
“It is obvious that APGA has not done enough to pacify or at least convince Bianca Ojukwu’s supporters that she actually lost her senatorial ambition fairly. Even if the current leaders of APGA think they have all it takes to decide who will fly the party’s ticket, aggrieved stakeholders may use other platforms to challenge APGA or to give support to APGA’s arch-rivals as a way of paying some people in APGA back in their own coins,” Ichie Obi Okoye, a community leader, told The Nation during the week, adding, “this is the challenge Obiano and APGA leadership must not overlook if they actually want a united APGA to contest in the forthcoming elections When I hear some of our analysts say Bianca has little political influence in Anambra, I laugh because it means they do not really know the full weight of her current surname.”
Though, there are many registered political parties in the state eyeing the governorship position, informed observers said the race will most likely be reduced to the three relatively strong political platforms in the state.
There are the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
APGA has held the governorship seat since 2006 when the Court of Appeal removed former governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, then of PDP and installed Mr. Peter Obi, then of APGA.
Since then, it has been difficult for another political party to dislodge the incumbent party in the state, a political party now flaunted by its ardent supporters as a political movement in the Southeast notwithstanding that it governs only Anambra State, one, out of the five states in the geo-political zone.
APGA members and supporters said residents of the state see the party as a religion or what they refer to as (nkea bu nkea’anyi) translated, (this is our own).
A source, a top official of APGA in Awka said the people see the party as their own primarily because of the influence of the late leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who became the poster ‘boy ‘ of the party.
“It got to a level; no single person would contest election on the platform of the party in the state without branding Ojukwu’s head on APGA uniforms,” the source said.
However, it seems that narrative changed in 2019 when Dim Ojukwu’s wife, Bianca Ojukwu’s senatorial ambition was truncated at the APGA primaries through her controversial defeat by Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu.
Some observers and stakeholders who spoke to The Nation during the week described the development as a “political humiliation of Bianca, without diligent consideration of how it would impact on the revered image of her late husband, the Ikemba Nnewi.” One of the sources expressed fear that it may mark the end of APGA’s use of Ojukwu’s larger-than-life image to win elections in the state alleging that an angry Bianca had actually warned the party and aspirants on its platform to stop using ‘the head of her husband’ as the anchor of their campaigns in the state.
Even if Bianca did not actually issue the alleged warning to the ruling party in the state, The Nation’s investigation shows that her shocking loss of the party ticket for her senatorial ambition, despite being backed by influential leaders, including some billionaire chieftains in the party, brought clear division in the state chapter of APGA.
So, as the 2021 November 18 governorship election approaches, some political observers, who claimed that the party has not done much to placate Bianca and some of her late husband’s supporters, said the forthcoming election may be a payback time for the former beauty queen who replaced her husband as Board of Trustees (BoT) member in the party.
We gathered during the week that since she lost the senatorial ticket, Bianca Ojukwu had refused to partake in APGA activities again with her supporters as she used to do despite alleged appeals from the party leadership and the state government. Though many political analysts still argue that Bianca’s political influence in Anambra politics is yet to assume a central stature, an insider in Anambra APGA told The Nation on Friday that the emergence of one of her known allies from Anambra South as a major governorship aspirant in the rival PDP has raised the fear that her supporters and her late father’s admirers may go to the extent of supporting the said PDP aspirant if that is what it would entail to avenge her political humiliation in APGA.
The Nation investigation shows that the fear today in APGA that the outcome of the last senatorial primary in the South Senatorial District may become an issue in the forthcoming election draws initially from the fact that Dr. Godwin Maduka, one of the major governorship aspirants on the platform of PDP, was one of the pillars of Bianca Ojukwu’s Senatorial ambition in 2019. Although no one has advanced any tangible proof that Bianca has any direct influence on Maduka’s current ambition on the ticket of PDP, some insiders alleged that if issues remain as they have been since the controversial outcome of that senatorial primary, Ojukwu’s widow may resort to use Maduka’s interest as a bargaining power against her party which is believed to have failed to assuage her over the “unfair denial during the last senatorial primary elections.”
It would be recalled that Bianca Ojukwu, who was Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Spain, did not mince words when she condemned the handling of the primary that denied her the senatorial ambition. She was quoted as saying APGA had been hijacked by ‘mercenaries’.
In her first public statement after the primary, she said: “As a member of this party’s Board of Trustees, I am deeply concerned that mercenaries appear to have hijacked the operations of our party machinery. APGA is today facing an existential threat and the overall image of our party is in tatters,” adding that “This will certainly have serious repercussions going into the main elections.”
Whether this projection remains valid remains to be seen, but it is certain, many are already worried