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Prior to the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial primaries in Imo State two names were very dominant for the Imo East senatorial seat, Barr. Chyma Anthony and Engr. Emma Ojinene. Both of them had at one point or the other aspired for political positions in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While Ojinere had the ambition of becoming governor, Anthony had the ambition of becoming the Senator representing the zone, but at last both of them did not go through in their respective aspirations.
By political realignment both of them are today in the APC with senatorial ambition. Ojinere had served as a commissioner under the Okorocha administration and Anthony has demonstrated unwavering commitment to the
APC government in ways portraying him as a staunch APC member.
As an international lawyer he made the headlines when he sued the National Assembly on its insistence to reverse order of elections, which the APC said was aimed at short changing the party.
Their antecedents show that they are committed to the APC cause, in different ways, each according to his convictions and capacity.
At the build up to the primaries in the state, there was the speculation whether Engr. Ojinere was still desirous of aspiring for the Senate seat of Owerri zone because of his inability to visit the nine local governments in the in the zone to canvass for support and their votes in the primary election. This situation made it possible for party members in the LGAs to hold the view that Barr. Anthony was the only one in the race each time he visited the LGA party members for consultation and support.
This lacuna may have prompted some youths in the zone to troop to roads in Owerri to call for support for Barr. Anthony as their preferred candidate, based on their conviction that he has the capacity to represent the zone very well at the Senate, having shown consistency commitment and capacity.
To many of the party members in the zone, Engr. Ojinere’s inability to tour the nine local governments to canvass for support and familiarise himself with the party members and their peculiar problems and needs left much to be desired. Denying them the opportunity to interact with him and asses his ability to fly their flag left a big question mark. It made the people to assume that he may have dropped his ambition, while he was still interested.
Barr. Anthony probably because of a clear cut definition of what he wants since 2011 took the necessary step of visiting the people to interact with them as is the rule in intra party democracy for aspirants to visit their party members and potential voters to solicit their support and vote at the primary first and at the election proper, if he or she clinches the party ticket. It is the understanding of party members and voters that visiting party members and electorates prior to primaries and the main election is one valid step that gives credibility to the aspirant and a party candidate, the huge financial involvement and risks notwithstanding. It is practice in tandem with our democracy as elsewhere in the world.
This deficiency may have prompted party members to view the announcement of Ojinere as winner of the senatorial primary with doubt. To Barr. Anthony’s sympathisers, they could not believe how it could be possible for them to have voted for an aspirant that never sought their votes, whose face never registered in their brain. Some are of the view that Engr. Ojinere rested on his oars because of governor Rochas Okorocha’s alleged earlier nod to his aspiration, if this is true he may have misunderstood the dynamic rhythm of politics, where expediency alters status quo ante in some cases. And failing to visit those he intend to represent to seek their support at the primary election, has the incontrovertible ingredient of suspicion that he was no longer interested in his earlier aspiration. At least, on the surface. This may have been the view of such local government party members who did not see him in their local governments prior to the primary election. Stretching the suspicion, they may have also thought that he lacks the capacity to represent them, very well.
Again, if the party had resolved to give its ticket to a particular aspirant or some aspirants in relation to other positions as the case may be, was it not immoral and undemocratic in the first place? If the party or the governor had tipped a particular aspirant, was it not immoral to have allowed other aspirants to purchase nomination forms at outrageously huge amounts of money?
With particular emphasis on the Anthony-Ojinere issue which of them, is with the capacity to win the election proper?
Admitted, they are all gentlemen, but which of them can enjoy public goodwill and which of them has the ability based on prima facia evidence to win victory for the party, considering the fact that one of them was able to tour all the LGAs in the zone to seek their consent. Remember in course of such tours, the party members and voters have the ample opportunity to assess an aspirant’s ability to deliver the dividend of representative democracy.
Barr. Anthony’s consistency in his senatorial aspiration since 2011, gives him out as one conversant with the demands of the office he is aspiring to hold and presenting himself to the zone in course of his LGA tours speaks of preparedness and willingness to handle the office.
Chukwu is a public affairs analyst based in Owerri, Imo State