Controversy trails Soludo’s 2014 governorship ambition

| March 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

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For former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the popular dictum that once beaten twice shy may not be politically expedient, if his alleged interest in the Anambra State 2014 governorship election is anything to go by, reports Remi Adelowo

Until the Supreme Court validated his candidacy as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for Anambra State in 2010, not a few stakeholders in the party, both at the state and national levels, were determined to frustrate Professor Soludo’s ambition.

From the high court, to the appellate court, culminating in the decision of the highest court of the land that Soludo was the validly nominated candidate of the PDP, it was indeed a long drawn battle for Soludo, with some likening his experience to a baptism of fire of sorts in his debut in party politics.

With the PDP in Anambra State sharply divided between those for and against Soludo, the former university don went into the election severely weakened. Not even the drafting of the famed ‘Mr. Fix It,’ Chief Tony Anenih, and some national officers of the party to add some impetus to Soludo’s campaign team, made any significant impact, as the PDP candidate came a distant third in the polls behind the eventual winner, APGA’s Mr. Peter Obi and ACN’s Dr. Chris Ngige, respectively.

For Soludo and his supporters, his victory at the 2010 election, according to sources in the party, was thought to be a done deal. The confidence may have stemmed from the assurance of the then president, Umaru Yar’Adua, who was alleged to have convinced the initially skeptical Soludo that all envisaged obstacles would be cleared to ensure his emergence as governor.

His defeat at the polls was not totally unexpected. According to a source close to Soludo, sabotage within the PDP was cited as the major reason for the loss. A dejected Soludo was alleged to have told a few close associates that he was done with contesting election in the state in the foreseeable future.

Why the change of mind?

The alleged turnaround of the professor of economics to contest the Anambra governorship seat next year is coming as a surprise to close watchers of the state politics.

Not a few are asking what has changed in Anambra politics between 2010 and 2013 to warrant Soludo’s change of mind.

This latest development, The Nation gathered, may not be unconnected to an alleged understanding between Soludo and Senator Andy Uba, who is alleged to have decided against contesting in the 2014 race.

In the last few months, speculations have been rife that Uba, who represents Anambra South in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, was poised to contest for the PDP governorship ticket in 2014.

Different interpretations have been adduced for the alleged tactical withdrawal of the former presidential aide from the governorship race.

First, there are strong speculations that some powerful forces in the Presidency are allegedly not comfortable with Uba’s alleged ambition due to his reported closeness to former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whose alleged frosty relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan has been widely reported, but severally denied by the parties involved.

Uba, in the calculations of these forces, may be too difficult to stop once he joins the race, as he is too entrenched politically, with an almost inexhaustible financial war chest.    Another side to the controversy is that some presidency top shots are allegedly behind the move to draft Soludo into the race, not for any altruistic reasons, according to sources, but a calculated plot to put forward a weak candidate who would be easily defeated by the presidency’s anointed candidate at the PDP governorship primaries.

A hazy political climate

For governorship aspirants in the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and PDP, nothing is certain yet regarding where the pendulum will swing.

What has made the political setting in Anambra State more unpredictable is the alleged plan by the incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi, to dump APGA under which platform he was elected for the PDP.

While Obi has severally denied he has such plan, many APGA members, according to sources, are at a loss as to why under the governor’s watch, the party has been practically torn into shreds as a result of the incessant leadership crisis that has plagued it in the last three years.

Not a few APGA members are also peeved that the governor has allegedly fulfilled in breach his promise to compensate party members who worked for his victory, first in 2003 and later in 2010.

The Nation reliably gathered that governorship aspirants in APGA are still confused on whether to kick start their campaign now or wait till when the governor will formally announce where his political future lies. A source said, “No one is fooled that Obi has a plan to decamp to PDP, but he should come clean with his party members.”

The source continued, “No one is sure if the governor intends to install a successor from his party and then move to PDP with his structures or move to PDP before the election next year. This uncertainty is partly responsible for the lull even in PDP, as its aspirants are well aware of the governor’s closeness with the presidency.”

A new aspirant and the battle ahead

A few days ago, controversial businessman, Ifeanyi Ubah, confirmed speculations of his governorship ambition, thus setting the stage for an epic battle on who succeeds Mr. Peter Obi.

While it is not clear yet under which platform he intends to actualise his ambition, there are strong indications that the 42-year-old oil magnate may pitch his tent with the PDP, with fears being expressed in certain quarters that the battle for the party’s governorship ticket may likely leave casualties in its trail.

Some months back, Obi was alleged to have anointed Ubah as his successor. As part of the process towards softening the ground for his entry into the governorship race and enlisting the support of critical stakeholders, Ubah allegedly held several secret meetings with some members of the Anambra State House of Assembly at his Ikeja, Lagos residence early last year.

The Nation, however, gathered that the governor is still keeping his cards close to his chest, even as he is now said to be looking in the direction of one of his top aides as his preferred successor.

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