The dramatic emergence of a member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife as the flag-bearer of the Progressives Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) in the February 2010 governorship election in Anambra State was the proverbial last straw that irredeemably broke down the relationship between a former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu and chief PPA financier in the state, Prince Arthur Eze, The Tide source has uncovered.
Eze, an international oil tycoon had at a colourful ceremony in Awka at the weekend led hordes of PPA supporters, including his protégé and south east chairman of the party, Chief Austin Ndigwe, to dump PPA. They instantly embraced the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which has lately been on a roller coaster in the state.
Investigations reveal that the relationship between Kalu and Arthur Eze had lately been frosty; with the later openly complaining that he had been edged out of running of the party in Anambra State. Eze had also reportedly frowned at the handling of the last party congress where his choice lost out to Hon. Tony Igboka who emerged chairman.
The billionaire businessman had somehow managed to comport himself but that the centre gave the moment it dawn on him that Ekwunife had by the sleight of the hand trounced his candidate and nephew, Okey. That was when Ezenukpo realised he had overstayed his welcome in PPA, volunteered a source.
Ezenukpo (Arthur Eze) was miffed by the fact that Ekwunife, a PDP member who joined the party a few hours to the PPA primary crushingly defeated his nephew Okey, whom Orji Kalu had sworn to hand the ticket. It was based on this pact that Ezenukpo pumped millions of naira into Anambra PPA at a time nobody would risk touching it with a pole, no matter how long.
“What was more, Ezenukpo was totally exasperated at the obvious helplessness of his legman Ndigwe who, though regional chairman was at the primary checkmated and rendered powerless by the party’s state chairman, Chief Tony Igboka, who became chairman, protests by Eze and Ndigwe notwithstanding,” a source close to the oil tycoon offered.
The source revealed that Arthur Eze felt particularly betrayed that, having invested so much time and money into the PPA project, Kalu clandestinely approached Emeka Etiaba and Ekwunife to contest the party’s governorship ticket with his nephew for whom he had already secured the ticket.
“We got information on how Senator Annie Okonkwo, for whom Ekwunife is keeping the ticket, brought money. Plenty of it. Once the money came, Kalu now began to look the other way as Igboka and other party officers on their side hijacked the delegates’ tags and gave them to PDP members to vote in PPA primary! That was how a PDP member became our flag-bearer overnight,” lamented one PPA officer.
Indications that all was not well with PPA emerged a couple of months ago during the state congress of the party where Igboka, a former member of Anambra State House of Assembly, was returned in very controversial circumstances. Brushing aside several spirited attempts by Eze through Ndigwe to make the party’s national leadership in Abuja reject Igboka, the party forwarded his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the authentic chairman.
The stakes heightened last month when Ndigwe confronted the party’s deputy national chairman for setting up a committee in Anambra State chapter of the party without his knowledge. Apart from being threatened with expulsion, Ndigwe, according to party sources, from that time was never brought into the picture of goings on in Anambra PPA. This, the sources insist, largely contributed to the humiliating defeat suffered by Eze’s nephew in the hands of a rookie PPA member, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife.
However, another source close to the former Abia State governor dismissed as “hogwash” suggestions that Kalu shortchanged Arthur in the running of Anambra PPA.
“What nonsense!” fumed the source. “Ezenukpo for sure thinks this is the Abacha era where he played God. He is a very notorious godfather. Imagine that his lack of stomach for democracy made him install Uzuawka (Ndigwe) chairman of Awka south LGA even when all knew that they won not more than four wards in the council.. He bribed his way to the tribunal and got judgment in his protégé’s favour.
“This is 2009, for crying out loud! How would a party grow by remaining the personal property of a political relic? For God’s sake, we are talking about PPA that produced two governors and several members of the National Assembly. You want to keep the party in your bedroom? We said, No! Open it up. Let Okeke and Okafor join so we can become a household name in the South east, and then Nigeria. We are tired of exhuming mummified political fathers. If he’s chosen to return to his vomit in PDP, good luck. We in PPA can’t be bothered,” he declared.
From the ashes of defeat, however, Arthur Eze, who is not new to the turbulence in politics, has reportedly moved on. Aside from donating a whopping N10 million to PDP, the billionaire tycoon whose company owns Block OML 109, located just 12 miles off the shores of Nigeria, has reportedly vowed to stop PPA from winning Anambra “even if that would cost him N2 billion.”
Those who should know insist that Eze is not a man that shies away from spending sprees particularly when his ego has been bruised. “OML 109, encompassing some 773 square kilometers, is estimated to hold over 2.2 billion barrels of crude oil, so you know what that means” a source quipped.
Eze was clearly the most influential figure from the South east from the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida through that of the late General Sani Abacha. When Eze wasn’t ordering pilots of his now defunct Triax Airlines around, he was “sacking” military administrators who failed to do his bidding.
He has consistently supplied oxygen to Ndigwe’s political life beginning from the early 1990s when he bulldozed the former PPA officer into becoming the chairman of Awka South council in Anambra State. He was also reportedly instrumental in installing Ndigwe’s sister, Eucharia Anazodo chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) during the Babangida regime.
Kano Tribunal Judgment, Slap On Constitutionalism, Rule Of Law -NNPP
The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) has described the judgment of the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that nullified the election of Governor Abba Kabiru Yusuff as a slap in the face of constitutionalism and the rule of law.
In a signed statement made available to newsmen by its acting national chairman, Abba Kawu Ali, the NNPP said its candidate won convincingly in the March 18, 2023, election, which it described as free, credible, and globally acclaimed as a fair election.
He said the pronouncement of the 3-man tribunal is laughable and a pure miscarriage of justice, which is capable of eroding the confidence of the electorate in the judiciary.
He, however, called on the party’s supporters across Nigeria to remain calm as the party will appeal the tribunal’s judgement.
“The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) receives with utter incredulity and disbelief the judgment of the Kano State Election Petition Tribunal on the March 18, 2023, Governorship Election.
“The reported judgement nullified the free, credible, and globally acclaimed fair election of our gubernatorial candidate, Engr. Abba Kabiru Yusuf, and brazenly awarded the election to the APC candidate, Nasiru Gawuna.
“The Tribunal arrived at this unjust judgment by unfairly subtracting 165,663 votes from the governor’s tally to enable it to unfairly award the result to the candidate of the ruling APC.
“In doing so, the tribunal obviously affirms its belief that the vote tally of the APC candidate was sacrosanct.
“The judgment of the 3-man Kano State Governorship Election Petition is laughable and nothing but a pure miscarriage of justice.
“The decision of the Tribunal is a slap in the face of constitutionalism and the rule of law and is capable of further discouraging the electorate from having confidence in the judiciary.
“The NNPP recalls with regret that this Tribunal has simply replayed the unholy script of 2019 by overturning the will of the people and awarding results to those who evidently lost the election.
“The NNPP will appeal this most unfair judgement.
We call on millions of our supporters in Kano and in the rest of the country to remain calm and maintain peace. A lopsided judgment cannot stand on the altar of justice”, he said.
Ondo Assembly Moves To Impeach Dep Gov
Indications emerged on Wednesday, that members of the Ondo State House of Assembly have commenced the process of impeaching the state Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
This is coming following an emergency plenary session summoned by the House of Assembly on Wednesday, with heavy presence of security men at the Assembly gate.
The Tide source gathered that at least 23 lawmakers have already appended their signatures, supporting the impeachment notice against Aiyedatiwa.
A source disclosed that the Deputy Governor is under investigation for alleged gross misuse of office and might be eased out of office through impeachment.
According to the source, trouble started when Aiyedatiwa reportedly approved the sum of N300 million for the purchase of a bulletproof SUV for his personal use.
The source said the approval was allegedly given while the state Governor was recuperating in Germany and it was approved without the knowledge of the governor.
He said the Deputy Governor further complicated matters when he ordered that the N300 million should be sourced from the Palliative fund.
He said “This fund, provided by the Federal government, was intended to support states in addressing the needs of their citizens.”
The source said the impeachment proceedings underscore the Assembly’s commitment to accountability, even at the highest levels of state governance.
Further developments in this case were being awaited as the situation continued to unfold.
Bauchi Tribunal Upholds Gov Mohammed’s Election
The Bauchi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has upheld the victory of Governor Bala Mohammed in the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
Delivering the judgment on Wednesday, Chairman of the three-man panel of the Tribunal, Justice P.T Kwahar, dismissed the petition of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakr (rtd), who challenged result of the election.
The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, electoral irregularities as well as bypass of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (B-VAS) machines in some polling units of Toro, Dass, Zaki, Itas-Gadau, Alkaleri, Bauchi, Tafawa Balewa, Ningi, Dambam and Ganjuwa Local Government Areas.The Tribunal held that there was no tangible evidence to show that the BVAS was truly manipulated.The judge explained that the witnesses brought by the petitioner presented evidence based on hearsay as they were not present at the polling units, “they have failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the APC candidate won the election.”
“This court therefore returns the second respondent as the elected governor of Bauchi state by the first respondent in the conduct of the governorship election of the 18th of March, 2023,” he held.
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