Anambra governorship: Storm over alleged plot to replace APC candidate

Posted by Hamza Idris | 17 September 2017 | 1,540 times

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•Anambra APC governorship candidate Tony Nwoye•Anambra APC governorship candidate Tony Nwoye

Tongues are wagging over alleged plot by some “powerful forces” within the All Progressives Congress (APC) to cancel its August 26 gubernatorial primary which was won by a member of House of Representatives, Mr Tony Nwoye.

Nwoye was declared winner with 2,146 votes to defeat his closest rival, Senator Andy Uba, who scored 931 votes. Uba, who is rich and connected, was favoured to win the primary before Nwoye, backed by wealthy and equally influential Prince Arthur Eze, won the election with a wide margin.

In anticipation of possible problems, the election committee, headed by Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, invited former Minister of Works, Dr Hassan Lawal, who had been appointed as Chairman of the Appeal Panel, to travel to Awka to witness the election processes in order to have on-the-spot knowledge about the election.

Shettima’s committee had set stringent conditions for the primary with processes that included screening of delegates, votes cast, collation, counting of votes and announcement of results, all televised live by the Nigerian Television Authority with all aspirants, their agents and voters present at the venue. The election, which started on August 26, ended the following day with the declaration of result by Shettima.

“This election is one of the easiest for our committee because election becomes difficult only when an umpire has interest in who wins since that interest will require bending to the rules to the resistance of other contenders. However, when the umpire has no interest, it is always easier to set rules that create a free and fair ground for everyone” Shettima said before announcing the result.

After the result was announced there was no contention by any of the aspirants as everything ended peacefully.

Chief Jim Nwobodo, Chairman of APC election strategy committee for the November 18 Anambra Governorship, described the election as the freest, transparent and most credible election ever held in the history of Anambra State.

“I watched with keen interest the live transmission of the 2017 APC Governorship primary for Anambra State where Dr. Tony Nwoye was declared as the winner with a total of 2,146 votes. I wish to congratulate the National Chairman and National Working Committee for making this (election) possible. I also congratulate the Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, and his Committee for conducting a free, credible and rancour-free primary in the state, making it the first time any political party would conduct such a transparent and rancour free primary in the state” Nwobodo said in well publicised statement he personally signed.

While Shettima’s committee was being celebrated for its neutrality with Nwoye and his supporters celebrating especially since Uba, the major contender, did not raise any questions throughout the election, things have however took a new dimension in Abuja.

Uba filed a petition contesting the election. One of Uba’s major contention was an allegation that Nwoye smuggled in students who paraded themselves as delegates. Uba alleged that Nwoye, a former President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, used his link with students to rig the elections with votes from fake delegates.

Uba’s petition was filed before the APC’s Election Appeal Panel. The panel invited persons connected with the petition, including Nwoye, who vehemently described Uba’s allegation as blatant false.

Nwoye reminded the committee that all aspirants, including Uba, agents of all aspirants, state and local government executives of the APC were all present while all delegates were thoroughly screened as they passed through five stages of vetting based on stringent measures adopted by Shettima’s committee before the delegates were given ballot papers to cast their votes in the presence of all aspirants and on live television. Nwoye wondered why Uba did not raise any objection against any of the delegates before and during the primary. Nwoye also made reference to the fact the Chairman of the Appeal Panel was in Awka during the election and could attest to its transparent conduct.

No sooner had the appeal panel submitted its report to the National Working Committee of the APC that media reports of alleged financial inducement of N200 million by Uba to compromise the Appeal Panel had emerged. It was said that the strategy is to have Uba becomes new candidate with highest valid votes of 931.

Uba however denied making attempts to induce the Appeal Panel, describing the allegations as attempts to blackmail him. Speaking through his media aide, Dr Onwuchekwa Okeke, Uba said he noted with serious concern attempts to tarnish his image. He also said that the committee under Shettima had done its best, noting that he has the highest respect for the Governor and that his petition had nothing to do with the committee.

“Uba has at no time indicted the committee that conducted the primary. In fact what is contained in his petition falls outside the purview of what the committee could have control over. He has the highest respect for the committee led by Governor Kashim Shettima. His petition is strictly on the action of the supposed winner (Nwoye) who, after having manipulated the election outside the committee, is desperate to hang on to to a supposed victory that he got fraudulently,” Uba’s spokesman said in a statement.

Anambra State primary has become the battle of ego between Uba and his rival, Eze. The election was also a battle of popularity between Anglicans and Catholics. While Uba is an Anglican, Eze and his godson, Nwoye are Catholics whose followers claim to be in majority around their constituencies. Both Uba and Eze are wealthy individuals who have long been locked in different battles on issues relating to property. Though both men are wealthy, Uba, it was gathered, had the advantage of being once elected as Governor of the state, in addition to his connection with major players in the APC including the Senate President Bukola Saraki.

In the midst of battles for what decision the National Working Committee of the APC makes, some key chieftains of the APC in Anambra State have raised dust against alleged plot to cancel the election. Notable among these chieftains is Nwobodo who had warned APC against contemplating the cancellation of the election.

“That election was transparent, free and fair and everybody saw it on television from start to finish and hence no one should dare to nullify that election” Nwobodo said in a telephone interview with journalists.

It is left to be seen what happens next as the National Working Committee of the APC is expected to make a final statement on who is to fly the party's in the governorship election. (Daily Trust)


Source: News Express

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