Anambra state has a special political status in Nigeria. Out of the 36 states in the country, it is the only state that is not ruled by the two major parties; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is the ruling party in the southeastern state.
When Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999, the PDP emerged as the first party to rule the state with Chinwoke Mbadinuju as the governor. In 2003, Chris Ngige took over the governorship seat, still on the platform of the PDP.
However, in 2006, a Court of Appeal nullified Ngige's election and declared Peter Obi as the validly elected governor of Anambra state. Obi, who has now defected to the PDP, assumed power as Anambra governor in 2006 on the platform of APGA.
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Since then, Anambra has been under the control of APGA.
As the current governor, Willie Obiano, is about to complete his second term, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed Saturday, November 6, to conduct the next governorship election in the state.
The battle for the soul of Anambra: Can APGA win again?
Being the only state APGA is controlling in Nigeria, one would expect that the party will put up a strong united force to keep Anambra while it works on winning in other states.
However, the opposite is the case as the party is enmeshed in an internal crisis that is threatening its chances of winning the election.
A faction of the party loyal to the state governor, Willie Obiano, has conducted its primary and elected Charles Soludo, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as its flag-bearer.
On the other side, the Chief Jude Okeke-led faction has said it would conduct its own primary on Thursday, July 1, insisting that Soludo has been suspended from APGA.
Meanwhile, even in the faction that produced Soludo as a candidate, one of the aspirants who contested against the CBN governor, Okwudili Ezenwankwo, has rejected the results.
Ezenwankwo claimed the primary, which was held in Awka, the capital of Anambra state, on Wednesday, June 23, was marred by irregularities.
APGA's crisis: An advantage for APC?
However, the unfolding developments in the party do not suggest the party's quest to take over Anambra will materialise.
On Sunday, June 27, the chairman of the APC primary election committee and governor of Ogun state, Dapo Abiodun, declared Andy Uba as the party's candidate.
According to Abiodun, Uba, a former senator from Anambra South, won the primary election by polling 230, 201 out of 348, 490 votes cast at the Golden Tulip Hoel while Johnbosco Onunkwo, his closest rival, scored 28, 746 votes.
However, 11 of the 14 APC governorship aspirants have said that the governorship primary allegedly conducted on Saturday, June 26, did not hold, according to a report by Premium Times.
George Moghalu, the spokesperson for the aspirants, said in all the 326 electoral wards of the state, people came out to vote, but that none of the APC team saddled with the responsibility to conduct the primary and the INEC officials was seen.
They called on the party leadership to come up with a fresh date for the Anambra primary to ensure that the party beat the deadline in the Electoral Act.
However, in spite of the crisis in the APC, Senator Uba's support group, Andy Uba Campaign Group, told Legit.ng via WhatsApp chat that the APC chieftain stands a bright chance of defeating the APGA's (factional) candidate, Soludo, in the election.
Asked if Senator Uba has been unanimously accepted as the APC's candidate, the group said:
"Yes, just a few that are still trying to put some hitches."
Anambra 2021: Can PDP return to power, 15 years after?
While the PDP could have simply taken an advantage of the crises in the APGA and the APC to return to power, the party is also battling with an internal squabble.
Ahead of the November 6 governorship poll, the party has produced two candidates through a parallel primary held at different locations in the state.
At the St Paul’s Primary and Secondary School Awka, Ugochukwu Uba emerged the winner of the exercise pulling 275 votes to beat Godwin Ezeemo who 114 votes.
At another venue, Valentine Ozigbo, former CEO Transcorp PLC secured 62 votes to emerge as the flagbearer of the party.
However, unlike the two other parties, the PDP has taken a step to address the crisis.
In order to resolve the crisis arising from the primary elections, the party has set up a 25-member panel. The appeal panel seating is scheduled to hold on Tuesday, June 29, at the NWC Hall, Wadata Plaza, Abuja FCT.
Nevertheless, as things stand, the three major parties participating in the election are struggling to keep their houses in order.
Can APGA stretch its dominance in Anambra by winning the poll? Can APC take over the state as it seeks to maintain its status as Nigeria's ruling party beyond 2023?
Or will PDP take back Anambra in its quest to displace APC as the ruling party in 2023? The people of Anambra will decide on Saturday, November 6, 2021.
In other news, the PDP’s youths have called for the immediate sack of the party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
Legit.ng notes that the call for Secondus' removal is coming on the heels of defections that hit the major opposition party in recent months.
Amid the gale of defections, the PDP’s youths under the aegis of South-South Youth Vanguard, in a statement by its national chairman, James Efe Akpofure, have urged the party’s leaders to stop the drift of decamping and address the negative situation in the party.