Anambra 2014: Behold A Motley Crowd Of Aspirants

| January 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

Though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is yet to issue a precise time-table for the conduct of the next gubernatorial election in Anambra state that would produce a successor to incumbent governor, Peter Obi in March 2014, the state is already awash with posters and billboards of prospective contestants from across the three senatorial zones of the state. But the people of Anambra North Senatorial zone insist that it is their turn to occupy the exalted political position in the state. How far they can go is better left at the realm of conjecture. NGWUJA UGWOKE writes. 

By the last quarter of this year, the electorate in Anambra state would queue up to elect a successor to the incumbent governor, Peter Obi. Obi is currently serving out his second term in office. So, constitutionally, he is no longer qualified to re-contest. He is expected to formally handover the baton of office at the Government House, Awka, to an entirely new person on Monday, 17 March, 2014.

As expected, a motley crowd of aspirants are jostling to take over the gubernatorial baton from Obi.  At the last count, more than 21 aspirants have overtly shown interest to occupy the No. 1 political position in the state come 2014.

Incidentally, notwithstanding the strong agitation by the people of the North senatorial zone for the governorship slot to be conceded exclusively to only contestants from the zone on the basis that the zone is yet to produce a governor- an argument which the incumbent Governor Obi also strongly supports – those already known to have started dusting their campaign machinery for the governorship contest, however, cut across the three senatorial zones of the state.

For instance, those who have already mounted their campaign billboards and posters from the Central senatorial zone include, Uche Ekwunife, current member representing Aniocha, Njikoka and Dunukofia federal constituency in the House of Representatives and chairman, House Committee on Environment.  She contested the governorship election in 2010 on the platform of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA).

Others from the zone whose billboards and posters adorn strategic places in the state are, Chief Emma Nweke, a multi-millionaire businessman and Chief Joe Ikebudu. Both of them are natives of Awka, the state capital. Nweke aspired to fly the flag of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in Awka North and South federal constituency in the last general election, but couldn’t clinch it.

Others expected to  join the governorship race from the Central senatorial zone include Chief Kodilichukwu Okelekwe,  an Abuja –based multi-millionaire businessman; Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, former governor of the state, and currently  senator representing Anambra  Central senatorial zone in the upper legislative house and  Senator Annie Okonkwo.

And from Anambra North Senatorial zone, those whose campaign billboards for the governorship race already dot strategic locations in the state, especially in the major cities, including Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia, are, Hon. Victor Afam Ogene, who currently represents Ogbaru Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, and Patrick Obianwu,  a Lagos –based estate surveyor. Others from the zone whose political foot- soldiers have hit the ground  to mobilize support for their aspirations are, Nnamdi  Egweogwu, a Commissioner in the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC); Chief Chike Obidigbo, an Industrialist; Chief Goddy Ibekwe, former President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in the state; Chief Willy Obiano, former Executive Director , Fidelity Bank Plc; Chief Dubem Obaze, former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters in the state; Mr. Oseloka Obaze, current

Secretary to the State Government (SSG); Mr. Mike Udah, current Chief Press Secretary (CPS)to the  state governor; Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, former governorship candidate of the now de-registered African Political System (APS) in the 2010 governorship election and General Manager of the state Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA) ; Princess Stella Oduah, current Aviation Minister and  Chief Paul Odenigbo, former SSG.

And from Anambra South senatorial zone, those who have literally littered the state with their campaign billboards are, Dr Obinna Uzor, chairman and chief executive officer, GOCUZ Group of Companies and Andy Uba, former special assistant to erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo, and currently, senator representing the zone in the National Assembly.

Other politicians from the zone who are believed to be gearing up to join the fray include Professor Charles Soludo, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).  Soludo contested the gubernatorial race in the state in 2010 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but lost to the incumbent governor.   Chief George Muoghalu, former National Secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the party’s governorship candidate in the state in 2003 and Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, chairman, Capital Oil and Gas, are also believed to be prospective contenders to the office of governor.

Interestingly, the array of aspirants who have so far indicated interest in the governorship contest, appear to have adopted a new political strategy to woo the electorate to their respective camps. Unlike in the past, the prospective contestants have refused to recruit gangsters to scare away their perceived opponents, an indication that the forthcoming election would be relatively free from rancor and bitterness. 

Basically, except Ogene, Ekwunife and Obianwu whose campaign billboards carried the APGA logo, indicating the party platform under which they intend to contest the election, others, including senator Uba, Obinna Uzor, albeit members of the PDP, did not indicate any political party.  Against this backdrop, it seems difficult to predict for now,  possible candidates of  the major political parties who are really on ground in the state as well as which of them would be the party to beat in the election.

Out of all the political parties registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), only three actually have strong followership in the state. They are APGA, the ruling party in the state, PDP and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

The consensus here is that the chances of any of the major political parties emerging the winner in the election would depend on the credibility of its candidate as well as its ability to conduct free and fair primaries.

These considerations notwithstanding, political watchers, however, believe that the APGA has brighter chances of retaining the governorship seat. The achievements of Governor Obi administration in the state have endeared the party to majority of the citizens.        Though Governor Obi had rooted for the North Senatorial zone to produce his successor, nevertheless, he made it clear that the decision of majority of the citizens of the state would hold sway on the issue. The people of the zone are insisting that since nobody from their area ever had the opportunity of occupying the governorship seat since the state was created about 22 years ago,  “equity, fairness and justice demand that the seat should be conceded to their zone in the forthcoming election”, they said.

About three political movements have been promoting the cause for the emergence of a governor from the North come 2014. Among them are, Oga N’Iru Ndi Anambra,being facilitated by Dr Alex Obiogbolu; Olu N’Adagbe, led by former chairman of Awka North local government area,  Chief Shedrack Anakwe. Incidentally, Anakwe is from the Central senatorial zone. Olu N’Adagbe is a socio-cultural-cum-political group that promotes the affinity of about 12 local governments in the state. The local governments include the entire seven local governments that make up the North, including Anambra East, Anambra North, Ayamelu, Ogbaru, Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Oyi as well as five in the Central which are, Awka North, Awka south, Anaocha, Dunukofia and Njikoka. Another group is known as “Equity Group” under the leadership of the Transition Committee Chairman of Ayamelum local government, Tony Ifeanya, a lawyer.

Though, Prince Ken Emeakayi, state chairman of the PDP, said that his party believes in zoning, whether or not his party would heed to the demand by the people of the North would be left to the party’s caucus to determine. He however, insisted that no matter whichever zone the candidate of the party hails from, such a person must emerge through a process that would not elicit rancor within the party.

But political watchers in the state are of the strong view that it is not likely for candidates from the other zones to concede the governorship slot to the North since those who earlier won the governorship from their areas never got it through zoning, but through their personal efforts.

 

Culled from :Here

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