By Isotonu Achor
It is crucial in Nigeria’s drive for democracy that Anambra Central Senatorial District must have a bona-fide Senator representing the district. The constituents have not had a sitting Senator since 2015, when the Court of Appeal sacked the Senator Uche Ekwunife.
There was as sigh of relief when the Court of Appeal on November 20, 2017, ordered that must hold within 90 days. The Independent National Electoral Commission has duly fixed the election to hold on January 13, 2018.
The January 13 election ought not to be threatened by the controversial order given by Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja on December 13, 2017, declaring that Obiora Okonkwo should be awarded the senatorial toga of Anambra Central district.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which had done so much harm to Anambra State had in a December 7, 2014, primary election at the Alex Ekwueme Square preceding the 2015 general elections cobbled together Okonkwo amongst other aspirants.
The Anambra PDP characteristically collected N4.5m from each aspirant for the expression of interest (EoI) form, but in the end really conducted no primary election. It needs to be recalled that on December, 2017, Mr Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court ordered the PDP to refund Chike Francis Maduekwe, another aspirant in the dubious primary election, the N4.5m nomination form fee he paid because he was after all denied the opportunity to contest.
It is noteworthy that the unrepentant Anambra PDP has a a well-worn history of going into elections with as many as five candidates for the same seat. It is then left for the courts to declare a winner of sorts!
It is against this background that Obiora Okonkwo’s ambition and court ruling should be understood. Since no primary for the PDP aspirants ever held in Anambra Central which led to the throwing out of “Senator” Ekwunife, how then can Obiora Okonkwo be claiming that he won the primary or even the election? Wonders shall never end!
It is therefore a travesty of justice for Justice Tsoho to have declared that Obiora Okonkwo won the primary that never took place, and should consequently be declared the winner of an election which the Court of Appeal had on two occasions declared null and void.
When the Court of Appeal order still subsists, how then can a High Court order supervene over the seniors? The National Judicial Council (NJC) will of course duly wade into the matter.
Of course INEC is not at fault whatsoever in ignoring Justice Tsoho’s Greek gift to Obiora Okonkwo.
The January 13 election is indeed the way to go. PDP has through its impunity sidelined the party from the contest. Manipulating the judiciary has had its day in the past years of impunity when Anambra PDP always rubbed the nose of justice in the mud.
INEC under the no-nonsense headship of Prof Mahmud Yakubu should be lauded for its patriotism, courage and independence.
As things stand, the January 13 Anambra Central senatorial election will indeed prove a walk in the park for the inimitable Chief Victor Umeh, (Ohamadike), the immediate past APGA National Chairman.
Chief Umeh who was the director-general of the Willie Obiano Re-election Campaign stands in good stead because of the yeoman’s job he delivered such that Obiano was re-elected via a landslide that no sitting governor has ever matched in Nigeria’s history. How can the world ever forget that Obiano won in each of the 21 local government areas in the state with a wide margin?
It is against this overwhelming background that Chief Umeh is on course to follow the lead of Governor Obiano in trouncing all comers. The previous contestants who battled with Umeh back in 2015 are all out of the race. Dr Chris Ngige is the incumbent Minister of Employment and Productivity and for him a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, as the old saying goes.
Of course Mrs Ekwunife stands disqualified by the Court of Appeal from re-contesting, and she has since defected from the PDP for the ruling APC. In the frame of INEC and the court, the election is effectively to be contested by those who participated in the 2015 senatorial contest on the platforms of their parties as of March 28, 2015.
There is no doubt that Chief Umeh is poised to make history on January 13 as the very first APGA senator before our very eyes. Achor is a company executive in Onitsha, Anambra State.