Anambra 2010:PDP To Adopt Soludo

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By Beatrice Onuchukwu, Awka & Muideen Olaniyi, Abuja

Former Governor of the Central Bank Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo is being touted by the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] as the consensus candidate for its crisis-wracked Anambra State chapter in governorship elections already scheduled for February, Daily Trust learnt in Awka and Abuja yesterday. The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] had announced on Monday that gubernatorial elections will hold in the state on February 6, with current governor Mr. Peter Obi's tenure set to expire in March.

Authoritative sources said the PDP bosses have been concerned for some time that unless they find a way to end the internecine rift in the Anambra party chapter and find an acceptable candidate who can unite the party, it could very well lose next year's election. The Anambra PDP chapter has at least five distinct factions and all efforts by the national leadership in the last two years to reconcile them failed.

Daily Trust learnt that nearly 70 party members indicated an interest to contest for governor under the party's platform, even though the guidelines for the party primaries are expected to be adopted by the National Working Committee today. In advance of the meeting, Daily Trust learnt, party leaders held several meetings at which Soludo was adopted as the party's most viable option. Already in recent weeks, gala receptions were held in Abuja and in Awka ostensibly to congratulate Soludo for completing his tenure at CBN. However, the receptions were meant to prepare his entry into the political fray, a source said.

Prior to the Soludo entry, the leading PDP aspirants in the Anambra race include Chief Andy Ubah, who ruled the state briefly in 2007 before the Supreme Court ruled that Governor Peter Obi's tenure had not expired. Other aspirants include Chief Nicholas Ukachukwu, Senator Anie Okonkwo and Chief George Okoye. Minister of Information Professor Dora Akunyili is also mentioned as a possible aspirant, as is National Communications Commission [NCC] Executive Vice Chairman Mr. Ernest Ndukwe. Ukachukwu contested the 2007 gubernatorial elections in the state under the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and is now at the Supreme Court, asking it to compel INEC to conduct fresh elections in the state at the expiration of Governor Obi's tenure next year.

For his part, Uba too is at the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division asking it to issue an order restraining INEC from conducting fresh elections on the grounds that although the Supreme Court asked him to vacate the office for Obi to enable him complete his tenure, it did not nullify his 2007 election as governor of Anambra State. His prayer therefore is to simply take over when Obi completes his term next March.

Senator Anie Okonkwo is an influential serving Senator from the same state.

However, the PDP national leadership's subterranean moves to adopt Soludo have already sailed into a storm of criticism in Anambra State, with other aspirants and their supporters taking serious exception to it.

Speaking to Daily trust in Awka yesterday, political analyst Dr. A.B.C. Nworah warned Soludo to beware of the said consensus offer. He said Soludo should first try to clear his name from the present mess in the banking industry, for which every stakeholder is pointing accusing fingers at him. He also said if Soludo runs, he will be wasting his time since the incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi would floor him, given his achievements in office. Nwora also said, “I would advise Professor Soludo to spend some time in Anambra State and look around before jumping into the hot waters of politics. He should not taint his name now.”

For his part, aspirant Mr. George Ike-Okoye said, “The adoption of Soludo is an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerians.” He said “rather than seek for the governorship seat, Soludo should have the moral duty now to help his successor, Lamido Sanusi clean up the house he polluted, a.k.a the CBN.”

Okoye also said “Soludo lured us into investing our monies in the banking industry and woefully failed in his duties of watching over those funds. He's a disgrace and owes us all an apology.”

Okoye alleged that “either he colluded with the loan defaulters or he was completely inept and lacked the dexterity to manage public funds. Either way, we cannot entrust him with the duty of chief accounting officer of our dear State.”

Professor Soludo could not be reached for his comments last night. PDP National Publicity Secretary Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, when contacted, merely said the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) discuss the Anambra guber race.

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