10 Things We Learnt From the APC and PDP Primaries

Amir Abdulazeez

The primary elections of Nigeria’s two strongest political parties, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) might have come and gone, but the dusts raised by the exercises across various states of the federation are yet to settle. As things are currently going, it is unlikely that the primary election appeal committees of both parties will adequately or significantly settle these dusts so much that it will amount to a major change of the status quo.

Petitions, accusations, allegations and counter allegations from different aspirants may have to be settled by the courts as INEC’s deadline for accepting nominations from political parties has elapsed.

For better or for worse, these nomination processes by the two biggest parties have taught us some lessons, some of which were so funny to the extent that one occasionally finds it difficult to differentiate between Nigerian politics and comedy.  From the expected and usual to the bizarre and unexpected, here are some of these things are;

Aspirants Only Unite After Losing Primaries;
This year’s elections have seen a lot of contenders for different positions with some states having from between 10 to 15 gubernatorial aspirants in one party alone.  Ideally, one expects all the aspirants to have one major goal, that of using the office they are vying for to better peoples’ lives and the only differences between them should be in methods and approaches to achieving that goal. In the pursuit of their mandates, they differ very much. While some are craving for free and credible primaries, some are clamouring for zoning, some want automatic tickets while others are waiting for anointment. However, once the primaries are over and the ‘winner’ emerges, the defeated aspirants will for the right or wrong reasons gang up and suddenly unite under one agenda, call for fresh primaries. Aspirants with hitherto no connections or even sharing animosities, suddenly become partners searching for justice. A lot of PDP Gubernatorial Primaries have resulted in such scenarios with Yobe, Adamawa, Kano and Imo been typical examples. The APC has a similar case in Gombe.

APC Is Merged but Not Integrated;
From early to late last year, the ANPP, ACN, CPC, APGA Faction, nPDP and others merged to form the APC with some coming after  the party’s formal registration.  However, the recent primaries in some states showed that they didn’t really merge; the only glued or fastened together. In many states, there was rancour over what they termed ‘marginalization of legacy parties’ or ‘scheming out of non-legacy parties’, etc. in other states, candidates were ‘allocated’ based on legacy or merging parties. A senatorial aspirant in Kano State only remembered that he was a former ACN member after he lost the primaries. One of the reasons he gave why the primaries should be annulled was that ACN was marginalized in the state.
Consensus Is More like Coercion

The issue of consensus candidate is not new in our politics, but it was practically kicked off this term by the PDP and President Jonathan. PDP undemocratically barred anyone from contesting against the president, despite the fact that nothing suggests that Jonathan will not win the PDP primaries with a landslide against whoever decides to contest.  Although a convention was later organized to ratify Jonathan’s candidacy, we also learnt from that convention that all this while, the PDP National Chairman and Secretary have been in acting capacity.

Furthermore, most candidates who were claimed to have stepped down base on consensus arrangement, later turned back and kicked against the consensus arrangement, citing coercion, threat and potential injustice for their withdrawal. In Jigawa State, the former Deputy Governor of the state emerged as APC gubernatorial candidate through consensus, only for one of the other aspirants to make a u-turn and insists on primaries. That aspirant won, but the earlier consensus candidate did not participate in the primaries.
There is No End in Sight to Godfatherism and Nigerian Governors are Simply Unstoppable; Godfathers, most of who are governors have continued their dictatorial trend of dominating politics left, right and center. Governors’ favoured aspirants are winning primaries with ‘ease’ and by the governors forcing themselves as senatorial candidates; they are now well positioned to take over the Red Chamber in 2015. Meanwhile, the abysmal performance of deputy governors in primary elections continues. It is safe to assume that no less than 90% of Deputy Governors covertly or overtly nurtured the ambition of flying their party’s flags, but only two (Kano and Ebonyi) succeeded, others failed woefully.

Simply put, success in Nigerian politics is fast becoming an impossibility without a godfather. Even the mighty Buhari had to rely on Tinubu’s support to be sure of victory.

Nigerians Have No Stake in Determining Flag-bearers;
The most popular aspirants usually lose in the primaries, leaving voters to elect between whomever candidates the party primaries produce for them in the general elections.

Early this year, APC embarked on a massive membership drive promising Nigerians that they would be given the opportunity to choose their leaders through direct primaries. However, since after the enormously successful membership registration exercise, the party began to systematically distance itself from that promise, until it eventually settled for what it called ‘modified indirect primaries’. That arrangement has seen only 6,008 delegates select a Presidential Candidate for more than 170 million people.

PDP’s case is even worse in all ramifications as about 3000 delegates were made to vote for just one contender. Also, 21 delegates were alleged to have determined the PDP gubernatorial candidate for the whole of Yobe State. We also learnt, especially from the PDP primaries that delegates may be different from voters and that it is not the voting that matters, but the counting.

Jonathan is Focused on His Ambition;
It is clear that Jonathan is strictly focused on his ambition, leaving little or no room for distractions. This is evident, going by the fact that most of his men failed to clinch the various tickets they contested for. With the exception of Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers), none of his former ministers managed to scale through the PDP gubernatorial primaries and events suggests that Jonathan did little to help.

Despite being part of Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet, some ministers like that of FCT simply refused to participate in the PDP gubernatorial race probably due to lack of encouragement from the President. It looks like Jonathan did not take sides directly and didn’t get involved much in PDP state primaries, probably as a pay back to his sole candidacy or to avoid any move that could backfire.  Internal revolt is the least Jonathan would want at the moment.

APC is PDP’s Waste Basket;
A rough estimate suggests that between 60 to 80% of all successful APC candidates at all levels are either former PDP members or those who left the PDP recently.
Many aspirants joined APC from PDP within days or hours and went ahead to clinch gubernatorial tickets. Akwa-Ibom, Kebbi and Benue states are typical examples. It would be interesting to see if APC would complain if these guys keep to tradition and later re-join the PDP after they win.

The other twenty or thirty something remaining political parties are no more than anyone’s waste basket. Only few of them conducted meaningful and visible primaries with most of their notable candidates emerging after crossing over from other parties. 
It Is Possible To Contest for Two Posts at a Time;
This phenomenon practically began with Tambuwal who was eyeing both the APC Presidential and the Sokoto State Governorship Tickets. Media reports suggest that he has obtained nomination forms for both positions. However, he later settled for the governorship. 

Kwankwaso and Rochas successfully executed what Tambuwal only attempted. They may not have broken any law, but their actions are simply insulting on peoples’ sensibilities. It was very much clear that Kwankwaso was eyeing the Kano Central Senatorial Ticket even as he was vigorously pursuing a clearly predictable presidential contest. Kwankwaso made sure that his in-law, former Personal Assistant and current Commissioner clinched the Kano Central APC Senatorial Ticket and after he lost the APC Presidential Primaries, the ticket was relinquished to him, just as one’s personal property would be returned to him when he comes for it. Rochas practically did the same by apparently asking his commissioner to take custody of the Imo APC Gubernatorial Ticket for him before he collected it back almost on the very day he lost the presidential primaries. One wonders how APC allowed that without any query so far.

Being Running Mate Is More Difficult That Being Candidate;
Vice president Namadi Sambo’s seat was under threat for much part of their second coming with Jonathan.  It was clear that in the past 2 years that some Northern PDP Governors were not eyeing the Presidency but the Vice Presidency which made Sambo’s position looked insecure for some time.

Similarly, the choice of Buhari’s running mate gave the APC’s top hierarchy a tough time with meetings running into marathons. Before succumbing to religious propaganda which probably necessitated the emergence of Professor Osinbajo, they had to seriously contend with more than 7 names with Amaechi, Oshiomole, Tinubu and Fashola among them. The APC VP slot was fiercely contested to the point one thought the party would organize a fresh convention to elect a VP Candidate.
Similar scenarios played out in some states where Gubernatorial Candidates had to determine their Running Mates on INEC candidates’ submission deadline.

 2015 Elections Would Not Be Free and Fair;
Going by the controversial nature by which many candidates emerged; one has every reason to be pessimistic about the General Elections. Many unpopular incumbents had forced themselves through the primaries and are probably hell bent on rigging themselves through the General Elections.

President Jonathan for example who has one of the poorest public ratings in Africa currently and whose eligibility to contest is still controversial, must be very conscious of this, and he wouldn’t have decided to contest if he was willing to allow a free, fair, smooth and credible election to take place. The way he emerged as PDP’s sole candidate only adds possibility to this assumption.

Furthermore, with many primaries of both parties dominated by money sharing, coercion of delegates, rigging, do-or-die attitude, winning-at-all-costs and winner-takes-all phenomena, one only has to wonder the extent to which candidates that emerged from such processes would go in trying to win at the general elections.

With INEC being handicapped by the Electoral Act from fighting candidate imposition, refusing to accept flawed nominations or even properly checkmating rigging, anything can happen in 2015.   

Mallam Amir, the President of Foundation for Better Initiatives (FBI) can be reached through abdulazeezamir@hotmail.com 


Uche Nwosu

Like Benjamin Disraeli, British legend and Statesman observed in his days that, “No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition. Certainly, opposition is the oil through which democracy revolves. The beauty of democracy is constructive criticism. But the criticism of the absurd, ie the one that has nothing to contribute to the society as being peddled by nitwits and dimwits who parade as opposition to Gov TA Orji should be concerned to the trash can.
Abians have gone beyond unintelligent and unreasonable posturing in the name of criticisms. What Abians want is intellectual and purposeful discourse that will move Abia to the next level as a good foundation has already being led by the Ochendo administration. The various political parties should come out clean with their various programmes on how to build on that foundation and make the states one of the best.

But instead of seeing such discourse, the APGA governorship candidate, Alex Otti and his camp as well as the PPA governorship candidate Chikwe Udensi have continued to insult the sensibilities of Abians by making frivolous claims and propaganda that don’t not hold water or contribute to the uplifting of the political debate. For instance, how can anybody in his rightful sense claim that Gov Orji who has provided a number of legacy structures that are visible everywhere has not done anything?

In a recent statement Udensi, who has no political pedigree and was unknown before now except the fact that he made some noise in APGA before he was chased away by another political small fry, nonstarter, Alex Otti, boasted that Ochendo has not performed and therefore his party, the PPA, will flush out the PDP in the government house in 2015 governorship election. 
It is laughable that Udensi does not realize that the party he claims will flush out the PDP out of government has already been pronounced dead and buried by the founder and sole proprietor in 2012 when he the proprietor claimed that he had joined the PDP. Udensi should go and check records. The party he belongs is dead and buried courtesy of the proprietor. If Udensi doesn’t know he is contesting an election under a party whose ghost may never be resurrected, he should consult the erstwhile founder of PPA on which graveyard the party is buried in.

Udensi! Your ambition is dead on arrival. Abians cannot take you serious because you don’t have a party. Actually, it is tomfoolery to take him serious. A living party and indeed the biggest party in Africa, the PDP, with its large umbrella to accommodate more people, does not see a ghoul whose discomfited members parade as a political party any threat. One wonders who will guide him to achieve that goal. Well, his statement and that of one Ndukwe Uko are the statements of people who don’t have anything to offer for a progressive state like Abia.

Meanwhile, Abians are also stupefied on the statements of Alex Otti and his likes who alleged that the PDP candidate, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu was being sponsored by the state government. In the first place, Otti should realize that Dr Okezie Ikpeazu as a bona fide citizen of Abia state is free to contest any election of his choice, provided he is qualified to run in that election. That this young man satisfied all conditions of contesting the primaries in PDP which Alex Otti was once an aspirant.
He bought the necessary forms from the party and filed his papers and was cleared and immediately commenced a grass root consultation/meet-the-delegates tour which yielded good dividends at the end. He was able to convince the delegates on why they should nominate him to be the PDP governorship flag bearer for Abia state. Having listened to him the delegates decided to give him the ticket.

It should be noted that Dr Okezie Ikpeazu started early to cross his ‘Ts’ and dot his ‘Is’ when the likes of Alex Otti were running from pillar to post in Abuja looking for who will endorse them. And when the President and his wife, the two figures he copiously dropped their names as his sponsors did not notice him, let alone endorsing him, he, Alex Otti, jumped ship. He ran away from PDP and got to a party whose national leadership wants to collect funds from the highest bidder.

These are evil days! Days of money politics; if not for money, would Alex Otti be installed a governorship candidate? However, the people, ie the Abia electorate know who they are looking for and who will go for them. Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is the man. He is not been sponsored by anybody but by the people who spoke under one voice through the delegates of the PDP at the Umuahia Central Stadium on December 8, 2014.

The same people will speak on a larger scale on February 28, 2015 when they will troop out en masse in the 184 INEC wards in the state to vote him in as the next governor of this God’s Own State. The likes of Alex Otti, Chikwe Udensi, Ndukwe Uko and their party leaders will be left in the lurch that day. That would be the day of reckoning for all these loud mouthed and dingbat politicians with questionable antecedents.

Come to think of it, who does not want somebody with clear cut vision and sound intellectual endowment to succeed him? Nigerian politics is replete with out going leaders wanting a good man to succeed them. No sane politician will want a brat with no political past to take over from him. The fear is always there that if a seasoned technocrat who knows the terrain does not succeed you, the chances are that he will upturn whatever structure or foundation that has been built.
There are cases where political upstarts that jump into the fray because they want to make easy money or be addressed as His Excellency and Honourable turn things around, destroying good works that have already been laid by their predecessors. That is why Peter Obi made it easy for Obiano to take over from him. It is also the reason why Bola Tinubu single handedly railroaded Fashola to power etc. However, in Abia situation, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is working hard to win the governorship seat of this state. He has the people’s confidence.

Therefore it is an iniquitous propaganda to associate Gov TA Orji or Engr Chinedu Orji with the tale of single handedly forcing him to Abia electorate. This is indeed unpardonable falsehood because neither the governor nor Chinedu Orji has an anointed candidate to take over from Ochendo. The anointed candidate will be the one from Abia people.

Uche Nwosu, a Political Affairs Commentator, wrote from Umuahia 


Inibehe Effiong

Citizen Odudu Albert Ukpanah is the only son of Late Engr. Albert Jimmy Ukpanah from Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Odudu, 31, a brilliant and peace loving man holds a B. Sc. in Geophysics from the University of Calabar and an M. Sc. from Coventry University, United Kingdom.

The Late Engr. Albert Ukpanah was an outspoken chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He had served his party as a member of the State Working Committee of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State. He was also a one time Caretaker Vice Chairman of Ukanafun LGA of Akwa Ibom State.

Notably, aside being a thorn in the flesh of some prominent politicians and political office holders in his area, the late Engr. Albert Ukpanah was a vociferous opponent of the 2015 senatorial ambition of Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State.

Like several other persons in his area that subscribe to the PDP zoning policy, he believed that it was the turn of his area (Abak Federal Constituency) to produce the next senator to represent the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State in the Senate come 2015. He saw Akpabio’s Senate bid as a grave injustice to his people.

On Wednesday March 12, 2014 he was brutally murdered by dare-devil assassins at his Abak residence at about 9:40pm.

From the cogent, uncontradicted and plausible account given by the immediate family of the slain politician, the deceased asked his son, Odudu, who was the only person with him at the material time to bring three (3) plastic chairs for himself and yet to be unidentified visitors that he was expecting.

After bringing out the chairs as directed, Odudu went inside the living room and continued watching the European league which he was enjoying prior to the arrival of the visitors. His father later came into the living room and took drinks (Remy martins and 1 can stout), which he ostensibly offered his guests. Upon sensing that the expected meeting had lasted for too long, Odudu went out to check on his father only to meet him lying lifeless in the pool of his blood.

Mr. Odudu who was very deeply frightened immediately raised an alarm and sought the assistance of neighbours who came to his aid. They then helped him carry his father’s body to the hospital where he was pronounced dead by doctors. He made a report to the police division in Abak LGA where the incident took place the following morning after which one of his aunts took him away to Eket LGA for safety.

Therefore, while it is true that the police officers from the State Command did not meet him at home when they first arrived the scene, it does not imply that he escaped since the aunt had taken him away.

Let me also state that when the police officers from Abak arrived the scene, they saw the bottle of the Remy martins and the container of the can stout which they took away. Photographs evidencing this are there for all to see.

An investigation into the incident was taken over by the State Police Command which resulted in the production of a Police Investigation Report signed by one Sgt. Ibediro Nnamdi, the Investigating Police Officer, (IPO), which was leaked to the media and published by several newspapers in Akwa Ibom State, I have the report with me

For clarity and benefit of doubt, the opinion/recommendation part of the Police Investigation Report dated 25th March, 2014 and signed by the IPO, Sgt. Ibediro Nnamdi, is reproduced verbatim as follows:

“In view of the above findings, the following suggestions are proffered. Since investigation into the case is still on, it is wise to nose around for more information that may reveal the REAL KILLERS of Hon. (Engr.), Albert Ukpanah, AS THE KILLING MIGHT BE POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ASSASSINS.
Above report is for your consideration and further directive, please” (emphasis mine).

I need to also mention here that in furtherance of its investigation into this case, the police had seized the GSM phone of the late Albert Ukpanah with an undertaking that same would be forwarded to the State Security Service (SSS) for forensic analysis since the deceased is believed to had communicated on phone with his yet to be identified guests before their arrival.

Till date, nothing has been heard of the result of the said forensic analysis by the SSS. Nigerians should ask the Akwa Ibom State Government, the SSS and the police about the outcome of the forensic analysis. A check with service providers would have revealed the call logs of the deceased shortly before he was murdered.

Instead of identifying the ‘REAL KILLERS’ of Albert Ukpanah as recommended by the IPO, the Akwa Ibom State Government led by Gov. Godswill Akpabio went on a frolic and had his only son, Odudu Ukpanah framed-up, arrested and charged to court on a totally senseless and trump-up charge of killing his own father.

A careful perusal of the proof of evidence filed alongside the information (charge) by the prosecution leads irresistibly to the conclusion that the paper on which the charge was preferred, have a far more value than the charge itself. There is absolutely no modicum of evidence, not even impliedly, establishing a nexus (link) between Odudu and the death of his father. It is just an audacious but shameless charade meant to cover the truth.

Those listed as witnesses are basically neighbours who responded to the alarm raised by Odudu. One even said in court during his testimony that he did not know why he was in court but later recalled that he was summoned to testify because he had made a statement to the police; a statement that did not incriminate Odudu in any way.

What on earth will make a young Masters Degree holder in Oil and Gas from one of the reputable universities in the UK and a well fared and very comfortable first and only son of an influential father think of taking the life of the man that meant the world to him? Why should Odudu kill the very father that sponsored his education abroad and bought him a car upon his return to Nigeria last year? Why?, and why?

There is this frivolous and very irresponsible propaganda that has been sold to credulous 
members of the public by agents of the state government that Gov. Akpabio had offered the deceased the sum of 2million naira on the day he was murdered to assist him in taking care of his wife’s failing health and that Odudu had killed the father to have the said money to himself.

Firstly, supposing without conceding that such money was actually offered to the deceased  by Gov. Akpabio, it is most unthinkable to say the least, for a sane person to even suggest that a person in the social and educational standing of Odudu will kill his father because of a paltry sum of 2million naira. This to me is a rape on logic and commonsense.

Secondly, did the governor called Odudu to inform him of his “generous offer” to the father? Since the governor had publicly admitted that he gave the said money, he should please tell us where and who the said money has been traced to?

Another lie being spread by the yes men of the government that I wish to puncture is the lie that Odudu broke the door to his father’s bedroom and carted away the purported 2mllion  naira. The truth of the matter is that one of Odudu’s aunts had advised the children of the deceased to search for and retrieve important documents for safety. Since the deceased had always locked his bedroom and the keys could not be found, the only option was to break the door. In the presence of relatives and neighbours, a carpenter was invited and he broke the door. This was in the evening of March 13, 2014 (a day after the incident).

As part of their investigation, the police had invited the carpenter to make a statement on what transpired which he did. Remarkably, the carpenter’s statement was discarded.

Since the emergence of the present regime in Akwa Ibom State in 2007, there has been an unprecedented upsurge in unresolved high profile politically motivated killings.

Quoting an annual report by the Nigeria Police Force, a Sunday PUNCH report of November 21, 2010 (page 3) said there were 74,064 murders and similar cases in Nigeria within two years.

A state-by-state analysis of this record ranks Akwa Ibom State with a population of 3.9m (2006 estimate) as being the highest with preponderance of such crimes. The police report said in 2009 alone, Akwa Ibom recorded 177 murders (most of which are said to be politically motivated), 62 attempted murders, one manslaughter, eight suicides, 21 attempted suicides, 320 assaults, 18 child stealing, 93 rape cases and indecent assaults, 29 kidnappings, among others. The 2011 figures marked a remarkable increase when compared to 2007.

Sadly, no single conviction has been recorded for these murders.

The innocent Odudu Ukpanah has been in custody for the past seven months while the state continue to play hide and seek with the case. So far, efforts to admit him to bail has not seen  fruition. On Monday December 15th, 2014 the court adjourned ruling on his bail application to January 7th, 2014.

The mother of Odudu is now critically ill with cancer. The family have expended all they have on litigation all in a bid to secure the release of the poor young man who they know is completely and totally innocent of the charge against him.

I am appealing to our friends and partners in the civil society, human rights community and the media to rise up to this very historic battle for justice. I appeal to human rights lawyers, activists, journalists all lovers of justice in this country to come to the rescue of this family. We have done it before, lets do it again. This is an injustice of the century.

Our voices must be heard for the Ukpanah’s. They have suffered enough, and it is time to put an end to this state sponsored madness and oppression. This seems to me a case where the killers are looking for the killers and the victims of the killing are being haunted to cover the truth.

Engr. Albert Ukpanah must not die in vain. His killers and their sponsors must not laugh last. His blood cries for justice and the time to act is now, not later.

Enough is enough.

Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist based in Lagos.

Email: inibehe.effiong@gmail.com