There is palpable anger by members of the Anambra State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the pronouncement by the National Vice Chairman of the party, South-East zone, Chief Austin Umahi, last week Friday that the PDP is jettisoning with the zoning arrangement in picking the governorship candidate in the 2021 elections.
Chief Umahi had said at the end of the party’s Zonal Working Committee meeting in Enugu that instead of zoning the slot to the Anambra South Senatorial district as other major parties, it would go for the best candidate as part of the strategy to win the election, irrespective of the zone such a person might come from.
He explained that the suspension of the zoning system would only be applied to the coming Anambra governorship election, explaining that having been out of power, the party needed to field the best candidate that would win the election.
But party leaders in Anambra State, who had earlier strategized on how to take back the Governorship of the State from the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) had already reached a consensus that the party’s flagbearer in the 2021 election must come from the Anambra South Senatorial district.
They are therefore up in arms against the pronouncement of Chief Umahi, claiming that any abandonment of the zoning policy will be a clear case of sabotage by the party’s Zonal chairman which will ensure that PDP will lose the coming election.
Investigations show that neither the members of the State executives of the party nor the party leader and former Vice Presidential candidate of the party in the 2019 elections, Mr Peter Obi, were consulted before the pronouncement was made. It was gathered that a Chief Umahi and party leaders outside Anambra State were rooting for a candidate from Anambra Central district who they have already promised the governorship ticket.
The party leaders in the State had earlier reached a consensus to pick the governorship candidate from any of the seven local government areas in the Anambra South Senatorial district which include Aguata, Ekwusigo, Ihiala, Nnewi North, Nnewi south, Orumba North and Orumba South.
Governor Peter Obi, from the Anambra Central District government for a total of eight years while Governor Willie Obiano, from the Anambra North district, is in his second term.
A bitter party chieftain warned the Zonal party chairman of the consequences of his abandoning zoning, saying that “PDP members will pay the South East zonal chairman with the bottle up bitterness they are habouring any time he sets up his feet in Anambra State.
“We are still nursing the wound of what his elder brother and Governor of Ebonyi State, Engineer Dave Umahi did to Mr Peter Obi when he was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP in the last presidential election, when he mobilised his allies to stop Peter Obi’s nomination.
“This time around, the younger brother of the governor is now working and mobilising to make sure Anambra State PDP doesn’t didn’t win the coming gubernatorial election in the State. What is baffling is that the same family that benefited from zoning in Ebonyi State is now saying that Anambra State cannot use zoning to pick its governorship candidate. We know who he is working for. We are aware how much he has collected from his pay masters. We have our ears on ground.”
The party chieftain alleged that “what is happening is not ordinary. We know that the party in power in the State are bent on using any means to disrupt the cohesion within the PDP family as the only way they can cling to power. They are looking for the man to use to destabilize the PDP. We are waiting for the Zonal party chairman to come from Abakaliki to teach us how to play the Anambra politics. Let him stay away from Anambra State politics.
“By starting this early to propagate unpopular issues concerning the party in Anambra especially the sensitive issue of zoning, he is out rightly demarketing PDP in the State. Already, all the critical stakeholders in the State have agreed that in line with the equity platform which has sustained peace within the State polity, the South Senatorial district is to produce governorship candidates from all the political parties.
“His going against the prevailing consensus within the State means that the Zonal chairman may have been grossly uninformed about what is on ground. Or there may be clear sabotage. It is time for the national leadership of the party to stop Chief Umahi and his collaborators from getting involved in settled matters concerning Anambra state politics. Anything to the contrary is planning massively to fail in the 2021 governorship election.”