The recent fence-mending between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan looks set to suffer a hiccup again as the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejected the Anambra State governorship primary that produced a former aide to Obasanjo, Senator Andy Uba, as the party’s candidate for the November 16 governorship election in the state.
The former president had, a few weeks back, solicited Jonathan’s support for Senator Uba in the run-up to the PDP nomination date. The subtle agreement between the two leaders, it was learnt, encouraged Obasanjo to wade into the crisis between the president and some governors elected on the platform of the PDP penultimate week.
However, the PDP national chairman, Bamanga Tukur, on Monday confirmed Barrister Tony Nwoye as the party’s candidate and rejected Uba’s candidature, a development the ex-president’s political family has found unpleasant.
LEADERSHIP checks on the Ota Farm camp revealed that Obasanjo is angry as he was said to have questioned what Nwoye possessed that was lacking in Uba.
“We are watching where the action of the PDP leadership would lead us. We begin to wonder why they would have a preference for a youth leader and why they would reject the man who had won the same governorship poll for our party before the court terminated his mandate, and who is now a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“From all indications, if the party fails to reverse itself, then the outcome of that November 16, 2013 election in Anambra has been decided by them,” a political disciple of Obasanjo confided in one of our correspondents.
The source recalled the efforts made by Senator Uba in the ongoing reconciliation between Jonathan and the ex- president and called on the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, to intervene quickly before it is too late for the party.
“It is our hope that Chief Anenih would stop this drift before it would be too late; we wonder why these people would never see anything good in Baba Obasanjo and yet they run to him in the cover of the night asking him to help them to come out of their self-inflicted crises.
“You remember, it was this same Andy Uba who brought Baba back to the country in order to attend Anenih’s birthday party where they ambushed Baba and begged him to reconcile with Jonathan; but today, the same Andy is not qualified as our candidate for Anambra governorship poll. Mark my words, PDP would never win that poll with that boy as PDP’s candidate.”
Uba, who is the Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, had won the PDP governorship ticket in one of the parallel nomination exercises while Barrister Nwoye clinched the same ticket in a parallel exercise. Both governorship primaries were conducted by two opposing factions within the PDP in the state.
Curiously, the national leadership of the PDP yesterday summoned Senator Uba to appear before it for allegedly conducting ‘an illegal governorship primary’.
But both the presidency and the former president have denied that they were on a collision course over the choice of PDP candidate for the Anambra election.
Obasanjo’s close associate, Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, told LEADERSHIP that there was no such conflict between Jonathan and Obasanjo.
“All these stories cannot be true and I wish you people in the media could disregard the false information. The two leaders have no reason to disagree over Anambra primary. The former president has left office and does not control any party structure; how such a person wishes to impose a candidate on the party, I do not know. Baba can only advise and not enforce. These are lies and I think Nigerians should leave them alone to concentrate on what they are doing for humanity,” he said.
Also dismissing the reports as false, political adviser to the president, Ali Ahmed Gulak, told LEADERSHIP that Jonathan did not have a hand in the Anambra governorship primary of the PDP.
“The president is not from Anambra State. He is not a party official, neither is he an INEC official; how then does he influence the election of anyone either at the level of the primary or even the real election? The report about Mr. President having a clash with the respected former president is totally false and mischievous; Nigerians should allow these great men be. They should leave them alone and not create unnecessary and imaginary friction they do not even know about,” Gulak said on telephone.
PDP summons Uba brothers, others
Meanwhile, the leadership of the PDP has summoned Senator Ubah, his brother Chris, and the factional party chairman in the state, Ejike Oguebego, for conducting and participating in what the party describes as an “illegal conduct” of governorship primaries last Saturday in Awka, Anambra State.
Others summoned by the party include Chief Benji Udeozor and Mrs. Tonia Nwankwu. A statement by the party yesterday accused them of acting in breach of the party’s constitution, and further called on the inspector general of police to begin investigations into the illegal procurement of sensitive party materials for the illegal governorship primary election.
Senator Uba and others were asked to report at the PDP National Secretariat, Abuja, today at 10am prompt “to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.”
The statement reads in part, “In view of their participation in the breach of our constitution referred to above, the following persons are hereby invited to appear before the National Working Committee for a preliminary hearing at the PDP National Secretariat, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 10 am prompt to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them”.
Amidst the PDP summons were reports that a Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra state has directed INEC and the PDP to recognize Senator Uba as the authentic winner of the PDP governorship primary.
Presidency halts south-west congress
Meanwhile, attempts to conduct the South West Congress this Thursday have been botched following a directive from the presidency that it should be halted.
The last National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the party had postponed the South West Congress pending the resolution of the court injunction instituted by the former vice chairman of the party in the South West, Segun Oni, demanding that the congress be halted. The NEC, however, mandated the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to conduct the congress when it deems fit without resort to the NEC.
It was, however, gathered that leaders from the zone, including former national acting vice chairman, South West, Ishola Filani, Ayo Arise, Sen. Iyola Omisore, Ayo Fayose, pleaded with the leadership of the party to conduct the congress this Thursday.
It was gathered that when the national chairman explained that the conduct would not be possible because of logistic problems, the party leaders from the zone volunteered to fund it.
The move was, however, stopped following a directive from the presidency, which noted since a court injunction on the matter was still pending, any attempts at conducting the regional congress should be set aside.