Monday, 19 August 2013

Anambra Guber: Why Soludo Lost out

Prof. Chukwuma Soludo
There were indications yesterday that the disqualification of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) , Prof. Charles Soludo, along with five other aspirants by the screening panel of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) may have been due to external pressures.
Soludo’s travails came just as two other successful aspirants from the Anambra North, Chief John Okechukwu Emeka and Chief Willie Obiano, emerged as the new front-runners of the party’s governorship ticket.
The revelations following the outcome of the APGA Gubernatorial Screening Panel, which last Friday declined to clear six of the aspirants, including Soludo, showed that there were very powerful forces behind his ouster.
The reasons, the panel adduced for not clearing the aspirants, ranged from non-presentation voters card, and party membership card.
Also, an appeal panel headed by Chief Tony Ojeilo, at the end its sitting on Saturday, held that the submissions made by the aspirants have been dismissed for lack of merit.
However, sources at APGA spoke on some intrigues and high-level maneuvering aimed at stopping Soludo from emerging as the party’s governorship candidate.
The source traced the former CBN governor’s travail to his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where it said Soludo had been marked out of the state governorship contest before he decided to seek an alternative platform in APGA.
“Certain elements are not comfortable with the growing profile of Soludo, especially his fraternisation with a former Vice-President. They are afraid that if Soludo is allowed to emerge APGA candidate and may be win the Anambra governorship election, he may sell out during the 2015 presidential election,” he said.
THISDAY gathered that part of the calculations was that the next governor of Anambra State would most certainly be the most influential in the South-east, since the office would not be vacant until after 2015 elections.
It was alleged that the same forces that had stood against Soludo’s candidacy in the PDP also followed him to APGA with the willing support of some party bigwigs.
According to associates of Soludo, who confirmed the scheming, even before the commencement of the party’s screening, the aspirant was pressurised to step down.
For instance, the former CBN governor was said to have received telephone calls from some top leaders of APGA, urging his to jettison his governorship bid, a plea he turned down on the grounds that he could not find any good reason to do that.
THISDAY gathered at the weekend, that the embittered former governorship candidate of the PDP was weighing several options and may be reconsidering his earlier promise not to dump APGA for another party.
Meanwhile, two of the APGA governorship aspirants, who scaled through last weekend’s screening exercise, a former Minister of Water Transport, Mr. John Okechukwu Emeka, and a former Executive Director with Fidelity Bank Plc, Chief Willie Obiano, were now touted as leading the pack of other five aspirants ahead of the party’s primaries slated for August 26.
Emaka recently received a boost from an endorsement by about 16 communities in his home base, Anambra North senatorial district, while Obiano was said to have the tacit support of the state Governor, Peter Obi.
In a statement signed by the Presidents-General of the communities, which included, Ifite Anam, Umueru Anam, Ukwala, Owelle, Inoma, Olumbanasa, Mkpunando, Umuaba Arum, Emewu Abuleti,Aguleri, Nzam, Nando, Igabariam, Enugwu-Otu and Ezi-Awam, the communities said: “It is in the interest of their various communities which have longed suffered underdevelopment to take a stand in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections.
“In the light of these, we hereby express our whole-hearted support for the candidature of Mr. John Okechukwu Emeka, former Minister of Water Transport, whom our investigations revealed to be an inspirational leader and rally point of our people.”
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