By CJ Ubaka
FRIDAY, July 16, 2021, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) published the names of party candidates and their running mates ahead of the November 6th gubernatorial election in Anambra state. To the surprise of everybody, the name of the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Valentine Ozigbo was omitted and the space for it left empty.
As soon as the list hit the airwaves, my phone lines were inundated with calls, SMS and chats. Concerned individuals were reaching out, trying to know the reason for the costly omission.
We did our best to assuage the fears of everyone that reached out yesterday, but in the interest of a greater majority and those who are bent on thwarting the message to suit their selfish interests, I wish to make a few more clarifications through this publication.
To begin with, INEC did not ‘drop’ Valentine Ozigbo from the list of candidates as some mischief makers are making it seem. His name was omitted in obedience to an existing court order, restraining INEC from publishing the name of anybody as the PDP candidate.
Recall that on June 26th, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of PDP, through the National Working Council (NWC), conducted the party primary election at the Late Prof Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, an election which was duly monitored by delegates and representatives of the INEC.
At the end of the election, Valentine Ozigbo emerged through what was adjudged as one of the most credible, free and fair electoral processes in the history of the state. Following the dictations of the PDP constitution, the NWC transmitted the outcome of the election to INEC, a process that included the submission of the candidate’s name to the electoral monitoring authority. At the same time, Valentine Ozigbo received his Certificate of Return from the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, putting a final nail to the coffin of the shadows of doubt cast around the authenticity of his emergence.
Hence, it is safe to say that the omission of yesterday does not in any way undermine the validity of the candidacy of Valentine Ozigbo, hence there is no cause for alarm.
Our team of lawyers have written and spoken about this same issue using numerous law and legal languages, so I will try as much as possible to make my own clarification as simple as possible, borrowing the exact words of Mr Festus Okoye, a National Commissioner of INEC, who also appeared on African Independent Television (AIT) to set the records right on Ozigbo’s candidacy.
“In the case of Valentine Ozigbo, INEC simply acted on an existing court order, stopping them from publishing the name of Valentine Ozigbo. However, the same INEC confirmed that Valentine Ozigbo is the candidate produced by their party’s primary election the commission monitored. Therefore, the PDP has the opportunity to vacate the existing court order and as soon as that is done, Ozigbo’s name will be published by the commission”, Mr Okoye said on live TV.
This statement clearly puts to rest the ulterior ambition of those who spread the false message that INEC ‘dropped’ Valentine Ozigbo. If indeed he was dropped, then there would have been another name, a replacement for him on the list, as in the case of the candidate of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Prof Charles Soludo, whose name was replaced by that of Hon Chukwuma Umeoji in obedience to a court judgement.
Publishing a list that leaves the column for the PDP candidate vacant clearly shows that INEC was simply obeying a court order. Hence, there is no doubt as to who is the candidate of PDP.
What is the way forward?
Just like the INEC National Commissioner rightly said, the PDP has the opportunity to go to court and vacate the said order. So, as it is, the counsel for Valentine Ozigbo and the PDP legal team are working closely together to ensure that this happens immediately so that his name will be adequately accommodated in the INEC list in subsequent publications as well as on the ballot paper.
I understand how unsettling and distasteful the news was, especially to those who have made it clear that they cannot wait any longer to elect Mr Ozigbo the governor of Anambra state.
In the words of a celebrate transformational teacher, Jim Kwik, let us understand that the darkest part of the night is actually closest to dawn.
“There are some things you can only learn in a storm. Stay strong, focus on what you can do and know that the clouds will soon part, and the sun will shine. Remember, not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path,” Jim Kwik said.
I urge you my dear friends, fellow party members and all visionary apostles of the #KaAnambraChawapu project to remain steadfast and never lose focus. The victory we anticipate is so huge that we never expected it to come without these petty troubles. Great things they say, do not come easy.
So, to make Anambra state great again, we have to brace up for these and many challenges of this nature until the final day when victory is eventually achieved.
What is happening now will refine and prepare Mr Ozigbo for the bigger task ahead, which is the responsibility of leading ndị Anambra and to bring to life that Anambra of our dreams.
CJ Ubaka is a social commentator and political analyst. He writes from Awka, Anambra State and tweets via @CJ_Ubaka.