There are strong indications that Ifeanyi Uba, controversial oil magnate, may be the frontline aspirant to clinch the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket for the November 18 Anambra election, having been successfully cleared to partake in the party’s forthcoming primary.
The PDP Anambra Gubernatorial Election Screening Committee on Friday also cleared five other aspirants while rejecting one.
The other aspirants cleared were Sen. Stella Oduah, former Minister of Aviation, Dr. Alex Obiogolu, John Emeka, Oseloka Obaze, as well as Lynda Ikpeazu.
However, Akolisa Ufodike was not cleared because he held dual citizenship.
The chairman of the Screening Committee, Mr. Adamu Waziri, disclosed this while presenting the clearance certificates to the screened aspirants at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
Waziri said the committee was fair and resolute in the conduct of the screening, in line with relevant provisions of the law.
He said, “the decision of the committee could be appealed. Anybody who is not satisfied with the decision of the committee should appeal to the National Working Committee or the Caretaker Committee for reconsideration.’’
Waziri noted that the decision of the national working committee or the caretaker committee would “override or confirm whatever we have done.”
Of the cleared aspirants, Ubah appears the standout personality. Firstly, as a billionaire, he boasts a significant war chest to prosecute the election and rival the state machinery-driven power of incumbency.
Also, he is no stranger to high-stakes gubernatorial election as he was one of the major contenders for the Anambra 2013 election, accumulating political capital and garnering useful experience as a result.
More so, he enjoys much brand visibility as he has dominated media coverage for good and bad reasons in recent times.
At the height of the monetary crisis in Nigeria, Ubah enjoyed much positive media coverage for offering to help the country fix its economic challenge to widespread acclaim. However, he suffered a significant dent to his reputation when he was accused of having sold petroleum products valued at N11 billion kept in his tank farm by NNPC without authorization, and allegedly converted the money to personal use.
Although he claimed he was only trying to retrieve money legitimately his from the NNPC which he said owed his company N16 billion, he was arrested and detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) over the allegations.
Ubah had only been released about six weeks after being in DSS custody having reportedly paid back N2 billion of the debt, in a case that is still pending.
Recall that the businessman had initially made public his defection from the Labour Party to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) shortly before the oil theft scandal blew up. What is not clear is how the rapid transition took place and whether there are legitimate questions about the authenticity of his membership of the PDP which could arise in the future depending on political developments.
Ubah will be hoping to brave the odds and try to leverage on public sympathy over what is perceived in some quarters to be some level of calculated persecution against him, as he seeks to shake up the politics of Anambra State in the build-up to the much-anticipated election, and eventually emerge victorious.
It remains to be seen though how exactly he will achieve this difficult but by no means improbable goal.
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