Anambra 2014: Let The Battle

| March 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

Boasting its fair share of charlatans, Anambra State is more importantly a land of icons powered by faith, dreamers and even larger dreams. This peculiar defining feature will shape the high-octane battle for the soul of the state much later this year as political gladiators with princely financial war chests, battle for who succeeds Governor Peter Obi and the tenancy rights of Awka Government House in 2014. LOUIS ACHI examines the field

Cut to the bone, the aspirants for the governorship of Anambra State include tested, seasoned politicians, businessmen, professionals…and well – spoilers. The recent emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC), an embryonic marriage of strange political bed-fellows with the sole aim of acquiring power, introduces another dimension to the unfolding script. The storm in the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) tea cup, if not properly managed, could play into the hands of APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Governor Peter Obi, an unquestionable and astute administrator, is often rightly or wrongly perceived as a non-politician doing business in a politically active volcanic zone. But the soft-spoken billionaire businessman and adroit economist, will almost certainly wink knowingly at such assessment and deliberately speak little. In theory, the new APC will consolidate and synergise the challenges of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the factional APGA and a non-existent Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

The PDP plotting to take over the state it lost to APGA some eight years ago, is going into over-drive to decisively stake its claim to the diadem. For President Goodluck Jonathan, a very close ally of Governor Obi, Anambra is clearly a state of interest – both as an important southern cog and as a key element in his 2015 come-back plot. Who are the gladiators lined up to take over from Governor Obi? What are their antecedents? What are their chances?

 

Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju:

Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju enjoys the peculiar distinction of being the first incumbent governor who was denied re-nomination by the PDP, his party. He was fought to a standstill by his godfathers led by Sir Emeka Offor, who constituted the opposition within the state to make the state ungovernable for him. The murder of the chairman of NBA, Onitsha chapter and his wife – Mr. and Mrs. Igwe, compounded his case and perhaps, was the last straw in an infamous tenure. Latching onto his history of denial, Mbadinuju has been lobbying that as the only governor who was denied a second term, he should be allowed to complete his term. He is from Anambra South Senatorial Zone. It is believed that he may not be a major issue in the unfolding, high-intensity political drama in the state.

 

Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige:

Now a senator from a keenly contested race, since 2003 when Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige illegally occupied the office of governor of Anambra, till currently, the popularity of that diminutive dynamite is fairly high. The fact that he won the 2011 senatorial election for Anambra Central attests to this. In 2010, he came third in the governorship election and went to the tribunal. He however, lost in the court.

In a clearly fraudulent victory, Ngige was declared winner of the 2007 governorship election on the ticket of the PDP. But the Court of Appeal nullified the election and awarded it to current governor, Peter Obi. Prior to the judgment, Ngige and his political godfather, Chief Chris Ubah, had traded blames on how the election that brought him to office was rigged. Now a member of the ACN, Ngige has been telling his friends that he wants to return to Government House, Awka. If he contests in November, his seat as senator will be safe, as he’s not required to resign. Therefore, he does not have much to lose if the election does not favour him.

But deeply held public perception of Ngige as a politician who believes he is all-knowing and cannot boast of empowering anybody could turn out to be his Achilles Heel. But with a soft-landing in the senate, he can boldly gamble.

 

Chike Obidigbo:

A Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, member from Umunya in Anambra North Senatorial zone, he is a successful businessman with chains of fledging industries in Anambra and Enugu states and currently, the chairman of Manufacturers Association. A green-horn politically but he is relying on his experience in business and manufacturing to tap through his friends and contacts in the private sector. He is believed to be rich enough to finance a gubernatorial election in Anambra State.

 

Alex Obiogbolu:

Alex Obiogbolu is a medical doctor from Onitsha in Anambra North Senatorial Zone and has been eyeing the big seat in Awka for some time now. He is a member of the PDP with followership amongst the youths. His financial prowess cannot be ascertained. This scenario puts him in the arena of pretenders. But, it is gathered he is relying on wealthy individuals within the zone who are supporting his candidature as a credible aspirant from the zone. But in Anambra, this is seen as a wrong script.

 

Senator Andy Ubah:

Senator Andy Ubah holds the quirky distinction of being the only Nigerian whose tenure as governor was the shortest. He was a governor of Anambra State for about 17 days, following the declaration by the Supreme Court that the tenure of Governor Obi had not ended, in 2007, when the election that brought Ubah to office was conducted. Although, he is presently the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District, he wants to go back to Government House, Awka. Clearly, he has an unfinished business.

In the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ubah served as Special Adviser and commanded much influence.  He was also in control of the PDP in the state at that time, which made it possible for him to get the party’s ticket in 2007. In the 2007 election, he polled more than one million votes, but in 2010, when he contested for governor on the platform of the Labour Party, he could not get up to 30, 000 votes, to show how the voters felt about him.

In the coming contest, Ubah has been making efforts to get the PDP concede the ticket to him. His camp is arguing that since the Supreme Court set aside the election that brought him to power in 2007, he should be compensated this time. However, the snag is that Anambra people are critical of his ambition for the governorship of the state now. It appears that the majority are tired of the Ubah brothers, who have been holding the state in their pockets, starting from Chris Ubah. Many remember the battle between Chris Ubah and Ngige, which saw the kidnap of the then governor and an attempt to get him out of office through a purported resignation.

The anti-Obasanjo elements in the PDP believe that Obasanjo wanted to hand over Anambra to Andy Uba as a way of settling him for his loyalty to him. Even as at press time, there is a perception that Obasanjo is strenuously trying to influence President Jonathan to endorse Andy Uba for Anambra’s big job. But Obasanjo’s waning influence with Jontahn is seen to represent a major hurdle for such plot.

 

Dr. Obinna Uzoh:

If there is any high-profile politician making crucial waves in Anambra State currently, it’s Dr. Obinna Uzoh, chairman/CEO of GOCUZ Group Limited and a chieftain of the PDP. His popularity at the grassroots and among the Catholic Church faithfuls is unprecedented. He’s from Ihiala, in Ihiala Local Government Area, but his popularity traverses the state, largely due to what he had done in the area of philanthropy. 

When flood ravaged some communities in Anambra, Uzoh was among the first individuals who donated relief materials to the victims. He donated food and cash running into millions of naira. Uzoh holds a  Bachelor’s degrees in Law and Business Administration, master’s degree in Marketing and a doctorate in economics, from the University of Lagos and Lagos State University. He has the support of Catholic Church youths, who openly endorsed him last year. Also, the students’ body through the South East Students Association has thrown their support behind him.

On March 16, on the eve of his 50th birthday, Uzoh will be donating a students’ hostel at the Catholic Youth Village, Awka, Anambra State capital, which he built with over N350 million. The ultra-modern hostel is built to have two students per room. The rooms have in-built toilets. Indeed, he could be said to have won the hearts of youths because of his philanthropic gestures. He has offered scholarships to indigent youths in various fields, in Nigerian universities and abroad.  He has also embarked upon rural electrification in Anambra and road construction, using his resources.

The PDP chieftain said his aim is to restore the glory of Anambra, through the transformation of its infrastructure, health care, education, commerce and industry and to create wealth and employment, etc. However, there’s a gang-up against Uzoh in the PDP and other parties as well as a plot to stop him from getting the PDP ticket. People in other parties are afraid that if he gets the PDP ticket, the party would take back Anambra, due to his grassroots appeal and endorsement by members and leaders of the Catholic Church.

Some people are saying he has spent so much through his philanthropic gestures and may not have enough financial muscle to fight a governorship race in a state like Anambra State where multi billionaires like Andy Uba, Ukachukwu and Soludo are also eyeing the same seat

 

Prof. Chukwuma Soludo:

When Prof. Soludo, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), joined the political scene in 2010, it was with controversy. He came from the blues to emerge as the PDP candidate, after the battle as to who would represent the party. It was in Abuja that he became the favourite, when other candidates had done the politicking at the grassroots.

It was with the controversy of his emergence that the PDP went into the election and Soludo came second, after Governor Obi. At that time, stakeholders felt that he did not emerge through due process and therefore, did not support him much. Now it appears they have not forgiven him. Soludo is still seen as a thorough professional and not a politician. How this would affect him is something to watch out for. However, his recent encounter with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over his tenure as CBN governor will be an issue if he joins the race.

 

Chief Akachukwu Nwamkpo:

Secretary of the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) and Special Adviser to the President on Technical Matters, Chief Akachukwu Nwamkpo, from Okija, in Ihiala Local Government of Anambra State, is also eyeing the Government House. He’s a classmate of President Goodluck Jonathan and has worked with him right from Bayalsa State and up till now. Some say that the only thing going for him is his relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan. However, his people say that in his years working with Jonathan, he has not done anything for them; hence he’s not popular among them.

 

Hon. Uche Ekwunife:

Ekwunife is one of the folks who makes APGA tick. She is a member of the House of Representatives, a seat she first occupied as a member of the PDP. She had defected to PPA, on whose platform she contested the 2010 governorship election. In 2011, she joined APGA and contested the House of Reps seat and won. She also won a rerun election ordered by the court.

Ekwunife is popular in her constituency and her involvement in philanthropy is well-known. However, her minus is the fact that she’s a woman. Nothing has shown that Anambra people want a female governor.

 

Oseloka Obaze:

With Governor Obi’s declaration of his preference for Anambra North to produce the next governor of the state, Mr. Obaze stands a good chance of getting the ticket of the Obi-led faction of APGA. He’s currently the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in Anambra, a position, which gives him the opportunity to know the workings of government. Indeed, he’s garnering experience on how to run government, as he, most of the time, represents Governor Obi at state functions and in Abuja.

Through government’s social activities, Obaze is becoming popular at the grassroots. He was in charge of the settlement of flood victims, an assignment he did very well.

 

Emma Anosike:

Anosike has always featured in all elections in Anambra. He was a member of the House of Reps and a senator. His tenure in the Senate was cut short when the court fired him over the nomination of candidate by the PDP. He contested the senatorial election at that time but the court said he was not validly nominated. He was the deputy governorship candidate to Prof Soludo in 2010 and they lost the election.

This PDP chieftain is now building his structures to, once again, contest the governorship. He is rich and influential, but his minus is that he has always been at the centre of the crisis in Anambra PDP. Owing to this, he always gets tickets in PDP, but ends up not being the authentic candidate.

 

Culled from :Here

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