Snippets Of Nigeria’s Crazy Party Primaries

Casmir Igbokwe

Fela Anikulapo Kuti must be turning in his grave by now. In one of his popular songs, the legendary musician described our system of government as democrazy. Now, not only is the craze getting crazier, we have bluntly refused to mend the broken pieces of our deranged system.

Last week was particularly eventful. Iyom Bianca Ojukwu and Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode may have finished counting their political losses and will now be wondering what actually hit them.

The headlines said it all: “Bianca Ojukwu flees as gunmen invade Anambra senatorial primary,” “Lagos primary: APC NWC makes U-turn, declares Sanwo-Olu governorship candidate,” “Buhari’s aide bites governorship aspirant in a dirty fight,” and so on.

I can imagine how Mrs. Ojukwu, Nigeria’s former ambassador to Spain and Ikemba Nnewi’s widow, ran with her high heels. I can also imagine how the oil magnate, Ifeanyi Uba, positioned his mouth to laugh. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had disqualified Uba from contesting the Anambra South senatorial primary. The party said he did not obtain a waiver, having recently crossed over to APGA from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

READ ALSO: Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu: Which way APGA? (1)

Ironically, Uba strenuously campaigned for APGA’s Willie Obiano during the last governorship election in Anambra. His campaign slogan then was “afa Igbo ama efu,” meaning “Igbo name will not disappear.” Now that he needed APGA to pay him back, his own name disappeared.

In the same token, the name of Governor Ambode of Lagos State disappeared from the register of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidates. The governor would never have imagined that he would never get the second term governorship ticket of the APC. He probably underestimated the power of his godfather, Bola Tinubu. He kept on fixing major roads and bridges but failed to fix the pockets of some party stalwarts. Tinubu himself alluded to that when he reportedly said Ambode was a good governor but not a good party man.

The man I pity most in these Lagos shenanigans is Clement Ebri, the former governor of Cross River State. He was the head of the APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) that was supposed to supervise the Lagos governorship primary.

Last Tuesday, he and his team were actually in Lagos to do their duty. He told the whole world that the election could not hold because the modalities were not followed as scheduled. He said a new date would be announced later.

The state chapter of the party thought otherwise. They said there was an election and that Babajide Sanwo-Olu was the winner. Hardly had Ebri got back to Abuja when the story changed. With the same mouth he uses to eat yam and cocoyam, Ebri announced that indeed there was an election and that Sanwo-Olu won. Shame has no other better name than this.

Ambode did not need any soothsayer to tell him that the game was up. His deputy and some commissioners had abandoned him. The social media erupted with a cartoon of Ambode captioned, “eat alone; die alone.” He conceded defeat and congratulated Sanwo-Olu. If he had tried to be combative, the House of Assembly would have impeached him. And, surely, goodness and mercy shall fail to follow him all the remaining days of his political life.

Ambode’s wisdom in accepting defeat is what is lacking in many other states. In Ogun, Imo, Zamfara and some others, different factions created crisis and pointed fingers at one another. A particular faction of the APC in Ogun State even accused the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, and the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo of being the brains behind the crisis in the state chapter. Some youths even marched to the national headquarters of the APC in Abuja, demanding the removal of Oshiomhole.

READ ALSO: APC primaries: Akoko aspirants petition Buhari, Oshiomhole, allege imposition of candidates

Being a dogged fighter, Oshiomhole has been prancing about and dishing out instructions. His mood is like that of a combative child who is spoiling for a fight and daring his opponent to come and touch him.

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State is like that too. He had wanted to foist his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, on Imo people as governor. But he met strong resistance. And so, he and seven other aggrieved governors stormed the Presidential Villa to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari. Since their meeting was behind closed doors, it will be difficult to categorically say what they wanted the President to do for them.

But no matter what, five APC governorship aspirants in the state declared their support for Senator Hope Uzodinma whom the Ahmed Gulak-led election committee had adjudged to be the winner of the state governorship primary election. APC had cancelled that election, declaring the result as fake. But the five aspirants vowed never to participate in any other election and urged the national leadership to call Okorocha to order. There was a fresh election last Saturday. The winner was not certain before this column went to bed.

The fear now is that our demonstration of craze may extend to the 2019 general election. Or how does one explain that Buhari got 2.9 million votes in Kano State alone in the last APC primary. In the 2015 general election, he got 1.9 million votes out of the 2.3 million people who purportedly voted in Kano. Many people cried foul. Now, there is a dramatic increase in the number of votes gathered from only APC members. In the general election, when both party and non-party members will vote, only God knows the figure they will churn out of Kano. Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano gave us a hint when he boasted recently that Kano would give APC five million votes in the 2019 presidential election.

My prayer is that the 2019 election would be violence-free. People should not just die for nothing. Already, the primaries have recorded some deaths and near-deaths in some states.

In Akwa Ibom, the managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the governorship candidate of the APC, Nsima Ekere, reportedly escaped assassination. It was in this same Akwa Ibom that an aide to President Buhari reportedly engaged a governorship aspirant and former minister of state for FCT in a dirty fight in Uyo. The President’s aide allegedly went as far as biting the aspirant. The fight reportedly broke out when Buhari’s aide advised the aspirant to step down for Ekere. That engendered a heated argument, which eventually led to the fight.

Nigerians should be extremely careful next year. Let nobody endanger his life for politicians whose major interest is self-preservation. Let us put a lie to the prediction that the 2019 election will witness violence in some states. With the major political parties having picked their presidential candidates, the coming weeks and months will be very interesting. Our common prayer should be, may the general election not be as crazy as the primaries.

READ ALSO: 2019 election: Atiku can’t stop Buhari’s victory – UK APC


Re: Osun governorship election and Nigeria’s jaundiced democracy

I just finished reading your piece in The Sun. It’s a good one. Keep it up. Thanks.

•Foster Obi, +2348033075694

Dear Casmir Igbokwe, your article on the just-concluded Osun governorship election is the same old story by PDP agents all over the country. Any election PDP loses must fall below international standard but any one PDP wins becomes the best election in the world organised by the same INEC you are castigating now. I want you to know that we are not strangers in Nigeria. We witnessed all the elections conducted by the PDP when they were in power for 16 years. So, there is no point crying over spilt milk. What you should do as someone who saw everything that happened in that election is to ask your PDP candidate to go to court and challenge the outcome of the election and you will serve as his witness. That is what you and other PDP agents should do, instead of crying every day on pages of newspapers.

-Chief A.U. Collins, +2348080276172

Really, Osun State guber election was a disappointment in the eyes of the international community and election observers but the opposition party (PDP) should take it as they saw it because they operated same way when they were in power. It is payback time. After all, one of the former Presidents said election that brought him to power was rigged, then what are we talking about ruling party rigging election? Let them go to court to claim their mandate.

-Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535

Thanks for letting the general public know about my case through your widely read article. I will appreciate any other means you can assist me. Wishing you happy new month and God’s blessing.

-Edward Uche Adigwe, 08033906769

  • First published in The Sun of Monday October 8, 2018.

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