Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be facing an uphill task as far as the Anambra State Governorship election billed for November 6 is concerned. How the party will handle the recruitment of its standard-bearer will determine what follows. A mishandling of the recruitment process could signpost what will happen to the PDP in the 2023 general elections.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has since announced the timetable and schedule of activities for the Anambra election through its Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
Okoye said party primaries and resolution of disputes arising from the primaries will take place between June 10 and July 1.
“By virtue of Section 178(1) & (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25(7) & (8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), election into the office of a State Governor shall hold not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office.
“Constitutionally and statutorily, the tenure of the governor of Anambra will expire on March 17, 2022 and the earliest date for the Election into the office of Governor, Anambra, shall be Oct. 18, 2021 and the latest date for the election shall be February 15, 2022.
“In the exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Constitution, the Electoral Act and all other powers enabling it in that regard, INEC has fixed Nov. 6 as the date for the conduct of the Anambra Governorship election’’, Okoye said.
“Consequently, the Commission hereby issues the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election. By the timetable and schedule of activities, the commission will issue the statutory Notice for Election on June 9.
“The Collection of Forms EC9 (Formerly CF001) and EC9B (Formerly CF002) for the election will take place on June 10, and the conduct of party primaries and resolution of disputes arising from the primaries will take place from June 10 to July 1”, he said.
Okoye said the particulars of the candidates for the election will be published on July 16, while parties will commence campaigns on August 8, adding, ‘’the final list of nominated candidates will be published on October 7.’’
Okoye asked all registered political parties ”to pay close attention to the timelines and schedule of activities outlined in the timetable and schedule of activities as they were constitutional and statutory provisions”.
He also appealed to political parties to conduct rancour-free primaries, and guarantee level playing field for all aspirants and conduct necessary due diligence on all forms and documents that will be submitted to the commission.
“The Commission is concerned about the spate of acrimonious primaries as well as the nomination of unqualified candidates, which results in avoidable litigations, and the nullification of elections by Election Petition Tribunals,” he said.
Now, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State wants the recruitment process of the Anambra PDP governorship candidate to be done transparently in a frantic bid to give the electorate confidence that the party means well for all. To achieve that goal, he has advised the National Working Committee of the party to allow its governors supervise the conduct of congresses and governorship primaries in Anambra.
Wike’s logic is that winning the November governorship election in Anambra is critical to PDP and as such, concerted effort ‘’must’’ be made to ensure that nobody is alienated in processes leading to the election of the party’s flag bearer.
The Rivers governor was speaking while addressing PDP leaders in Eastern Nigeria during a meeting held in Enugu to reconcile Anambra stakeholders ahead of the November election. He explained that he was in Enugu to commiserate with the state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeremadu, over the death of the state’s Transport Commissioner, Mathias Ekweremadu, and was notified of the meeting by the state governor who also urged him to stop by and speak to delegates at the Government House, Enugu.
According to Governor Wike, the November election is offering PDP a rare opportunity to retake Anambra and consolidate the party’s grip in the South-East geopolitical zone. And to achieve this, the governor said people must be willing to make sacrifices in the overall interest of PDP.
“Let us have party interest, not group interest and put everything aside. Anambra used to be a PDP state but because of wranglings and not giving in, that is what has made PDP to lose Anambra. Only two states in the South-East -Enugu and Abia- are PDP today. If we add Anambra, it is a good boost for us.”
He warns that if PDP fails to win Anambra it will not augur well for the party particularly in the South-East. To this, he insisted that the National Working Committee of the party should allow governors to oversee both the conduct of congresses and governorship primaries in Anambra. “It must be done transparently. Whether the Congresses or the primary itself, the governors will be in charge to come and do the election”, he added.
Continuing, he said adhering to his suggestion will serve as a test case to determine whether the National Working Committee is serious about PDP winning Anambra election, and accordingly charged PDP National Organising Secretary, Austin Akobundu, a retired Army Colonel who was present at the meeting, to ensure that processes leading to the recruitment of PDP governorship candidate in the state is done transparently to give people confidence that the party means well.
“You have a critical role. Luckily you’re from South-East. Tell them that look, if we lose Anambra, there is problem for us in the South-East. And you know that All Progressives Congress (APC) is coming out strong to fight in Anambra. So let us work together.”
While appealing to those in court to withdraw their cases in the interest of PDP, Governor Wike assured the delegates that PDP governors will support the party in Anambra to win the November election. ‘’All of us are ready to give Anambra that support to win this election’’, he said, and urged contending factions in the state to reconcile and work in unison.
“In the name of God, everybody keep your ego, part of the problem is ego, let us work as a team and deliver PDP”, he pleaded.
Also at the meeting were former Senate President and Secretary to the Federal Government, Anyim Pius Anyim; former Minister of Women and Social Affairs, Iyom Josephine Anenih , 2019 PDP Vice presidential candidate, Peter Obi, former Ebonyi State Governor, Sam Egwu, and his Imo State counterpart, Emeka Ihedioha.
There is wisdom in what Wike is pushing for. United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has been harping that countries like Nigeria with high levels of corruption, or which lack effective rule of law or accountability in government are more susceptible to conflict and social unrest than other developing countries. When applied to party politics, it simply means that a party that refuses to adhere to internal democracy risks being crushed at elections.
USAID is however, concerned with leading international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance.
With what is so far glaring to the Nigerian people, the persistence of corruption has adversely impacted the delivery of health, education and other social benefits in the country, and is a contributing factor to the persistence of poverty and other inequalities.
In its Corruption Perceptions Index of January 2017, Transparency International (TI) found that over two-thirds of the 176 countries and territories surveyed scored below the midpoint of a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), with the global average score a mere 43, indicating endemic corruption in a country’s public sector.
Despite some recent successes in fighting corruption, in countries such as Brazil and Ukraine, as well as the exposure of illicit financial interests as brought out by the Panama papers, it is clear much more work is to be done.
By implication, what Governor Wike was saying in Enugu is that the process of governing is most legitimate when it incorporates democratic principles such as transparency, pluralism, citizen involvement in decision-making, representation, and accountability. Equally, civil society, the media, and the private sector, have roles and responsibilities in addition to those of the government.
Citizens do not only lose confidence in a government, they also lose confidence in a political party that is unable to deliver basic democratic services. The degree to which a government is able to carry out its functions at any level often determines a country’s or a state’s ability to sustain democratic reforms and provide for the well-being of the people.
The rule of law is also an essential element of democracy. All of the following depend upon accountable governments, political parties, fair and accessible application of the law, and respect for international human-rights standards: Free and fair political and justice systems; protection of human rights; vibrant civil society; public confidence in the police and the courts; and security sector reform
In post-conflict settings, reestablishing the rule of law is the first step in the rebuilding process. Establishing peace and security and rebuilding justice institutions can help to develop the necessary climate for reconciliation, public confidence, and subsequent economic growth.
USAID’s objective in governance is to improve the relationship between civilians and state actors by directly linking those who are governed with those who are democratically elected to govern. USAID also works to support the rule of law by promoting legal and regulatory frameworks that improve order and security, legitimacy, checks and balances, and equal application and enforcement of the law.
In both areas, USAID provides technical leadership through research, training, and dissemination of best practices. Governance programmes include efforts to promote: Anti-corruption reform; legislative strengthening; decentralisation, public management and policy reform; security sector reform; rule of Law programmes focus on three goals: Increasing democratic legal authority; guaranteeing rights and the democratic process; and providing justice as a service
From the foregoing, it is, perhaps, easy to notice that four key principles—accountability, transparency, participation, and inclusion—have become nearly universal features of the policy statements and programmes of international development organisations. Yet this apparently widespread new consensus is deceptive.
Behind the ringing declarations lie fundamental fissures over the value and application of these concepts. Understanding and addressing these divisions is crucial to ensuring that the four principles become fully embedded in international development work.
To achieve transparency, an organisation like PDP or even the ruling APC must provide information about its activities and governance to stakeholders that is accurate, complete and made available in a timely way. Transparency enables accountability. This does not mean all information should be made publicly available.
Parties’ recruitment processes for electoral candidates are transparent when they enable aspirants and their supporters to see and understand how they operate in an honest way. To achieve transparency, Abuja, states, public functionaries must provide information about their activities and governance to stakeholders that is accurate, complete and made available in a timely way.
Scholars in this field say transparency enables accountability. By extension, the accountability deficit in Nigeria is as a result of lack of transparency at all levels of governance. However, it does not mean that all information should be made publicly available. There are certain types of information that may not be provided publicly such as private information and some aspects of security information.
For now, if PDP is serious about reinventing itself, it has to yield to Wike’s suggestion in a honest bid to end the injustice of political corruption by promoting transparency, accountability and integrity in all its affairs. Beginning with the Anambra governorship primaries, and all other primaries leading to 2023, how PDP will handle it all will be a decisive indicative test of the party’s preparedness to usher in a new Nigeria.