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OPINION: Attack on Soludo and ‘The Politics of Bitterness’

Charles Soludo 
Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the likely flag-bearer of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
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It was on Wednesday, the 31st of March, 2021, a key event that will likely shape the nature and direction of Anambra politics, as well as the fate of Anambra State 2021 gubernatorial election scheduled for November took place in Isuofia, Aguata Local Government, Anambra State. It was the day when unknown gunmen stormed the Isuofia Civic Centre, where a key candidate in the scheduled election, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the likely flag-bearer of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), was holding interactive meeting with his supporters and youths of Isuofia. The gun men had at the end of their siege left on its trail deaths and agony.

Already, a lot of politics are trailing the incident as politicians allegedly made partisan comments on the issue, many at times through their proxies, the development that attracted the critical comments/reactions of the Anambra State government, which accused some politicians of not sympathizing with the families of the victims of the tragedy.

The interaction/meeting was going on when the gunmen in their characteristic manner, stormed the arena, on a shooting spree, at the end of which three armed security officers attached to Soludo were killed, while the State Commissioner for Public Utilities, Engr. Emeka Ezenwanne who was abducted by the gunmen that same day and who spent some days in captivity, was on the 4th of April, 2021, reportedly released.

Since the incident occurred, key publics and stakeholders in Anambra politics have reacted to the sad event, which took place few weeks, after similar tragedy which took the lives of security operatives drawn from the army and police, took place at Ekwuluobi, Neni, Awkuzu Junction, Onitsha and Nkpologwu area of Aguata Local Government.

Already, the Anambra State Police Command led by the Commissioner of Police, Monday Bala Kuryas, FSL, has announced the arrest of five suspects, four of who were named accordingly.  The spokesman of the State Police Command, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, had in a statement released to journalists on the issue, said the arrested suspects confessed to have taken part in the attack and subsequent abduction of the Commissioner for Public Utilities, Engr. Ezenwanne, while urging the public not to relent in providing useful information that will assist the Command in checking all forms of criminality in the state. Soludo is a front-runner for the ticket of APGA, and its believed that he is the anointed candidate of the running party led by Chief Willie M. Obiano and if eventually he emerges as the candidate of APGA, he will fight for governorship position along with candidates drawn from other political parties, such as PDP, APC, ADC, among others.

Among those who are jostling for the ticket of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) include Chief Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, a serving senator, Chidi Onyemelukwe, daughter of the late second Republic Vice-President, Chief Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, Mrs. Genevieve Elewochi, former Commissioner in the defunct Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s administration, Chief Obiora Okonkwo, Hon. Chris Azubogu, a serving member of the House of Representatives, Wiston Ude, Valentine Ozigbo, Chief Godwin Ezeemo, Dr. Godwin Maduka, a USA based medical practitioner, Ifedi Okwenna, Ugochukwu Uba, Dr. Tony Nwoye, Walter Okeke and Emeka Etiaba, SAN, among others who may show face in the course of discreet politicking for the ticket of PDP. And as for the APC, those jostling for its ticket include, Chief George Moghalu a veteran in the dialectics of Anambra politics, Engr. Johnbosco Onunkwo, Dr. Andy Uba, who is now making a fresh bid for the APC ticket, having lost the first bid to Dr. Tony Nwoye some years ago.

So far, the Isuofia incident has mellowed down the initial high tempo of the polities being engineered across the state recently by the politicians who are jostling for the ticket of their respective party.

And while the impact of the incident on the current tempo of Anambra politics persists, a civil society group known as Anambra Civil Society Network led by Prince Chris Azor has reacted to the incident, especially, as it affects the coming election. The group had in their statement released to Journalists, said “that this incident was one of the envisaged early warning signs of precursory to the vital election”, while imploring the state Governor to declare a state of emergency on security and ensure safety of lives and property of citizens.

It should also be noted that since the Isuofia incident took place, plethora of politicians who reacted on the issue have been taken to ask by the State Government, which felt that some interested persons with political ambition, were politicizing the whole thing, to the extent that they were accused of not showing sympathy for Professor Soludo, who the government alleged was the main target of the dastardly attack.

Speaking on behalf of the State Government, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba, had in their positional statement on the issue titled, “unconscionable reactions of some politicians to the Isuofia incident” contended that “we are however breaking our silence because of the determined attempt by some politicians in Anambra State to politicize the Isuofia tragedy just 48 hours after the incident, the politicians had begun to make all manner of statements through their miniors on the social media”.

The Commissioner berated the politicians who were alleged to have been politicizing the Isuofia incident, He said, “the statements show no sympathy for Prof Soludo who was apparently the main target the dastardly attack. Indeed, they do not care about the people of Anambra state led by Obiano who in the last seven years has not spared any resources to make Anambra State, the safest state in Nigeria”.

He maintained that the alleged immoral politicizing over the tragedy which occurred in Isuofia on March 31, by a handful of those he described as “noisy and inelegant politicians is not in the character of Anambra people.

The Commissioner urged those allegedly politicizing the act of terrorism which took place on March 31st to retrace their steps immediately, adding that the Anambra State Government will no longer condone such behavior which does tremendous violence to the reputation of their people.

Summing up the state government position on the issue, especially as it relates to the alleged politicization of the Isuofia tragedy by some unnamed politicians, the state governor, Chief Obiano had in his Easter message contended that as politics and its activities manifest in Anambra State in the months ahead, he was urging all actors and participants to eschew, violence and be mature in all dealings. According to Obiano, “Our state is on a consistent rise to greatness and we have a duty to ensure it doesn’t derail as a result of politics of bitterness”.

• Okeke sent in this piece from Awka, Anambra State.