Anambra guber Clash of the titans

Ahead of the much anticipated governorship election in Anambra State, next Saturday, the political scene in the state is becoming quite interesting. The contest over who to succeed the incumbent Governor Peter Obi, come March 17, 2014 is gaining momentum as gladiators are getting prepared for the election.

The major political parties, gubernatorial candidates, stakeholders, elder statesmen, community leaders and many interest groups are also prepared for the election. The gubernatorial candidates and their supporters are presently oiling their machinery to ensure that they become victorious in contest. And of course, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is also strategising and putting all necessary measures in place to ensure that the election is credible, free and fair.

The security agents are also not left out in their preparation to have hitchfree election in Anambra. On November 16, the people of Anambra, from all the nooks and crannies of the world, and particularly the electorate, in Anambra State, who have been waiting anxiously for the gubernatorial election, will decide who becomes Obi’s successor. In the last few months, political parties and their candidates have been holding campaigns, canvassing the electorate to vote in their favour on November 16. Some of the gubernatorial candidates have even extended their campaign beyond Anambra State and the shores of Nigeria to seek the support of Ndi Anambra at home and in the diaspora.

Despite several efforts that have been put into the race by political parties and their gubernatorial candidates, analysts believe that many factors will decide how the electorate will elect the next governor.

Some of the factors include agitation for zoning, religion, party structures, candidate pedigree, past records, grassroots, financial muscles, and god-fatherism among others. Without doubt, the election will be a litmus test for the state ruling party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the major opposition parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Those expected to fly the flags of their party are Chief Willie Obiano (APGA), Senator Chris Ngige (APC), Comrade Tony Nwoye (PDP), Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, Labour Party (LP); Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA); Prince Akanegbu Ogochukwu, United Progressives Party (UPP); Okonkwo Webster, National Conscience Party (NCP) and Comrade Aaron Igweze, Alliance for Democracy (AD).

Others are Mr. Okeke Chika Jerry, Action Alliance (AA); Chukwuemeka Nwankwo, Accord Party; Dr. Ifeatu Ekelem, Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD); Engr. Anthony Anene, Allied Congress Party of Nigera (ACPN); Chief Anayo Arinze, African Democratic Congress (ADC); Patrick Chukwuka Ibeziako, African Peoples Alliance (APA); Chief Austin Nwangwu, Citizens Popular Party (CPP); Chijioke Geofrey Ndubuisi, Democratic Peoples Party (DPP); Christian Ikechukwu Otti, Independent Democrats (ID); Chief Dennis Nwaforka Oguge, KOWA Party; Pastor Simon Okafor, Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP); Prince Leonard Uchendu, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP); Hon. Basil Ijedinma, Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN); Onuorah Onyeachonam, Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP) and Barr. Okoye Godson, United Democratic Party (UDP). Though about 20 political parties will be taking part in the governorship election, the contest has been narrowed down to four-horse race.

Those believed to be in contention are Chief Willie Obiano (APGA), Senator Chris Ngige (APC), Comrade Tony Nwoye (PDP) and Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah of the Labour Party. As the ruling party in Anambra State, APGA is going to do everything possible to retain the state, which seems to be the only APGA controlled state in Nigeria, considering the defection of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, who was elected on the platform of APGA, to APC.

Though APGA is the ruling party in the state, it cannot boast of total control of the state considering that members of the opposition parties have more members in the State and National Assembly than APGA.

Therefore, people are of the view that next Saturday election is crucial to APGA. It is believed that many factors will work in favour of APGA in the election. Governor Obi, as a sitting governor, will do everything within his power to ensure that he does not lose the state to the opposition. The outcome of the election will either be a continuation of the APGA-led administration or end the ruling party’s reign in Anambra. PDP is a party to reckon with in Anambra State but its influence seems to be felt more at the federal level considering the fact that it has more members in the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly than other political parties. But despite its popularity and structures, which spread across the state, the party is facing a difficult time in being in control at the state level, a situation which has been attributed to its internal wrangling.

Considering the post-primary controversy in the party, which led to about three people laying claims to the party governorship ticket and the breaking of PDP into two factions led by Alhaji Bamangar Tukur and Alhaji Kawu Baraje, many people are pessimistic about the party’s chances at the election. However, going by the popular saying that there is no permanent friend or foe in politics, but permanent interest, it is not unlikely that the PDP will resolve its conflict and make a good showing on Saturday.

APC has come as a party to be reckoned with in Anambra State because it leads the minority in the State House of Assembly and also has some members of House of Representatives.

It can also boast of a Senator, which the ruling party does not have. Some people are of the view that the November 16 election is going to be the baptism of fire for the APC, which was formed by three major political parties – Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) and All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and splinter group of APGA led by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.

Prior to the emergence of APC, many people have been clamouring for a big party to challenge the ruling party. Without any iota of doubt, APC is going to prove a point with the Anambra election and the performance of the party in the election is going to be a pointer to where it is heading in 2015 elections.

Labour Party and Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) are also making significant presence in the governorship race and some people are of the view that the two parties can make a surprise in the election if the major political parties commit any blunder. Irrespective of the preparations by the major political parties, one thing that is common to all is that they will be going into the election with divided houses based on their inability to manage their postprimary crisis effectively.

As at today, some of the political parties are still finding it difficult to bring disgruntled members back into the fold. It is therefore believed that the internal wrangling may affect the chances of some of the leading political parties, except something urgent is done before the election day.

Meanwhile, it is pertinent to note that in Anambra State politics, godfatherism is a major issue and past and present governors rode on the back of some godfathers to office.

For instance, Chris Uba and others played a crucial role in installing Dr. Chris Ngige as governor in 2003, while the incumbent governor was backed to the Anambra State Government House by the late Ikemba Nnewi and Biafran warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.

The trend has not changed, hence the likelihood of many of the candidate to want to bank on the influence of the political gladiators within and outside the state to become the next governor. The zoning formula in the political calculations in the country is also a factor.

Anambra is divided into three major senatorial zones of Anambra Central, Anambra South and Anambra North. And out of the three zones, it is only Anambra North that is yet to produce the governor of the state.

The need for Anambra North to produce the next governor has been one of the agitations in the state and many people, especially the people of A n a m b r a N o r t h . Gover – n o r O b i has n o t hidden h i s interest for someone from Anambra North to replace him and that is why Obiano, who is from Anambra North, was backed by the party leaders to fly APGA flag in next Saturday election. Nwoye, the PDP candidate is also from Anambra North while Ngige and Ubah are from Anambra Central and Anambra South respectively.

Therefore, the issues of zoning, if considered on the election day by the electorate may work in favour and against some of the candidates. Needless to say that the financial strength of an individual or his party counts in any election in the country.

With the financial muscles of the candidates of the major parties, it is going to be a fight to the finish. Directly or indirectly, they are all money bags. One other factor is the support the candidates get at the grassroots level.

Many of them have taken their campaigns to the people at that level, giving them some things considered essential and promising them of very bright future for them and their children.

The success of their efforts, will certainly be determined by the amount of vote they get from them. Irrespective of the political structures, financial muscles and other factors that may likely shape the turn out of the governorship election, many believe that the personality and track records of the major candidates would also count.

The election may be a pay back time for all the candidates in term of their contributions to the growth and development of Anambra State prior to the election. Obiano, who hails from Aguleri is a retiring Executive Director of Business Banking, Fidelity Bank Plc, is a new person in the race. Considering how he emerged as APGA flag bearer with the support of Governor Obi and other APGA leaders ahead of most of the experienced politicians in the party, it is believed that Obiano will be relying on the political structure of his party and the incumbent governor to actualise his dream. Analysts are of the view that Obi’s performance and the clamour for continuity will be in favour of the APGA candidate. Coming from Anambra North may also be in his favour. But some are of the view that clamours for change in the state may work against him.

The factionalisation of the party into two -one led by Chief Victor Umeh and the other, Chief Maxi Okwu – may work against him. Ngige, a medical doctor-turned-politician, who is currently representing Anambra Central Senatorial District in the Senate, is a voice to be reckoned with in Anambra politics. He governed the state between May 29, 2003 and March 17, 2006 under the PDP platform.

During his tenure, Ngige touched the lives of the people of Anambra positively and his administration put smiles on their faces, especially the people at the grassroots through many laudable and remarkable projects. One of them is road construction, which cut across the state. The people of Anambra also feel the touch of Ngige’s administration in education, health and other key areas.

Since he left the Government House in 2006 in a controversial manner after 33 months in office, Ngige has tried on two occasions, to return to the Governor’s office. He lost narrowly to the incumbent Governor Obi during the February 6, 2010 governorship election.

Many people believe that a lot of things will work in favour of Ngige considering his antecedents and the people of Anambra’s passion for change. Among all the four major contenders, Ngige is the most experienced in the race considering his experience as a governor and a Senator.

Therefore his political clout may work in his favour. But despite his popularity and perceived acceptance by the electorate, some people are of the views that some issues may work against his return to Government House. Some of the issues include his comments on deportation of some Igbo to Anambra by Lagos State Government and launching of his campaign on Ofalla Day in Onitsha, which many people see as affront by Ngige to the Obi of Onitsha. Comrade Nwoye, a respected former Student Union activist is from Nsugbe in Anambra East Local Government.

He is not new in Anambra politics having served as the state cshairman of PDP between 2006 and 2009 and worked assiduously for PDP in the 2007 general elections.

He contested and won the seat to represent Anambra East/West Federal Constituency at the National Assembly but his Certificate of Return was issued to another person who never contested. Nwoye’s emergence as PDP’s candidate was marked by controversies. His candidature was challenged by both Senator Andy Uba and Mr. Nicholas Uwachukwu at the court before the ticket was finally given to him through a Supreme Court verdict on Monday November 5.

Considering the ongoing wrangling in the PDP, if care is not taken, the party may go into the election with a divided house and pave way for another political party to be victorious.

The alleged support of the presidency for APGA as compensation to Governor Obi for being loyal to President Goodluck Jonathan may also work against Nwoye. Ifeanyi Ubah, an accomplished businessman who hails from Umuanuka, Otolo Nnewi, is another new entrant in Anambra State politics.

Though he is a new entrant in the governorship race, many people believe that he is one of the major contenders in the governorship race. He has a deep pocket to finance his election and with the present structures he is erecting in every nooks and crannies of the state since he declared his intention for the governorship election, he comes across as the candidate to beat.

Analysts are of the view that Ubah may benefit from the wrangling in the major political parties and rode to power on platter of gold. With the situation of things, it would not be wrong to conclude that until the election results are read out and the winner declared, next Saturday’s election remains one to watch with serious interest.

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