Policy Briefs

News Track: Anambra 2017 and the Debate On Power Rotation

Whether or not the North Senatorial zone of Anambra state is entitled to hold power for another four years to complete an eight year tenure that was supposed to be spent by Governor Willie Obiano by design is now a public debat, especially among the political class in the state. Yet, there had never been a time when they sat on a round table to decide, willy- nilly or wrote it down as an agreement that power should shift from one zone to the other after a Governor emerges from each zone.
What is now trending as a big issue originated some time in 2013 at the twilight of former Governor Peter Obi administration. At that time, everybody, even non-politicians acknowledged that given the backwardness of Anambra North (permit use of the phrase) that if left for grabs, the position of Governor of the state may never get to that zone. With a lot of political office holders from that part of the state having Governor Obi’s right ear, he was persuaded to insist that his successor would emerge from that zone. Before you know it, the pronouncement spread like a wild fire in the harmattan. Two groups, ‘Olu N’Adagbe’ and ‘Equity’ sprang up to spread the message and literally turned it into propaganda.

Olu N’Adagbe, lead by former chairman of Awka North local council, Chief Shedrack Anakwue who had over time turned into a political juggernaut speared-headed the message; touring all the local governments in the state and holding rallies to drive home the need for North to produce a successor to Governor Peter Obi. Chief Anakwue had a personal interest in the matter, though. Coming from Anambra North himself, and knowing the condition of his people, Anakwue put everything he had into the project which luckily for him matured as eventually, Obi chose Chief Willie Obiano above many other qualified people jostling for the post of Governor of the state on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

The acceptance of Obiano was not easy among the hustlers. First, Obiano was never in the scene when the decision to choose a candidate from the North was made. As he himself acknowledged, he was on retirement in the United State of America (USA) when he was recalled home. In fact, Obiano said that he was at the pool side of his house when his phone rang and he was asked to proceed home for an urgent matter. When he arrived, many people on ground did not seem to approve of Obi’s choice but he stood his ground. Obi argued that he had worked with Obiano before then when both of them worked at Fidelity Bank, Obi as chairman of Board of directors and Obiano as Executive director. Obi vowed he could vouch for him and so he was allowed to have his choice more so when there was no fear of Obiano or APGA losing the election. In fact, before Obiano arrived, he was already riding on the crest of victory. This is because of Obi’s superfluous performance in office. Obi gave APGA such credibility and fame that no opposition could dethrone him or defeat his choice.

However, Obi’s choice divided APGA. Those who believed that they had been shortchanged carried on with lukewarm attitude. In his discrete manner Obi had, before his choice for Obiano given Anambra North leaders the impression that he will adopt whoever they chose for the job. Consequently, the leaders led by their traditional rulers organized a shadow election in which a candidate emerged only for Obi to renege on his promise and went for Obiano. That, coupled with his battle with his brother, Chief Victor Umeh who he had wanted to remove by all means as national chairman of APGA for which reason he organized a kangaroo national convention that court later nullified created a gulf in APGA. After court nullified the convention and Obi was forced to have Umeh as his national chairman, those who emerged in the kangaroo convention held their ground. As Obiano emerged for Umeh-Obi camp while Dr. Chike Obidigbo emerged for Chief Maxi Okwu and others who were elected national chairman in the kangaroo convention. After the election which Obiano won, both camps went to court to determine which of the APGA factions between Umeh and Okwu had the right to produce the party’s governorship candidate. The judgment went in favour of Umeh. Following that Obidigbo and some of his supporters left APGA and later went their separate ways. Thus the court judgment sounded a death nail on the unity of the party. Obi’s exit from the party worsened the matter.

Clamour For a Free For All Governorship Election

Senator Chris Ngige raised the bar of governance when he occupied Government House for three years. If for no other thing, the electorate saw a big change in Ngige’s style of governance and a big difference between him and his predecessor. Ngige constructed mainly high quality roads that later became known as Ngige standard. He generally made the electorate believe that government can work. In fact when Obi wrestled him to the ground, many people were not happy because they feared that the standard would go down again. However, history would record Obi as the best Governor Anambra ever had. He excelled in every sector and gave Anambra people the kind of belonging they never anticipated. Ngige built roads in some communities but Obi made sure that every community had a tarred road. There is no point enumerating his numerous achievements but the most striking one is in the area of education which he lifted from near zero to the best in Nigeria. In fact, Obi did so well that his name was used to compose songs by musicians in the state and has remained a reference point even among the governorship aspirants for the November, 18, 2017 election. Obi’s performance in office seems to be the daunting task before Governor Obiano. Many people including aspirants in the November Governorship election do not believe that Obiano has done well. This is why they are divided in their clamour for a free for all election.

There are at least three groups arguing for or against power remaining in the North. Governor Obiano and his supporters believe that the Governor has done well enough to deserve another four years to complete an eight year tenure for the North. This argument is strongly canvassed by his supporters and the state owned media. He who did well should go back to complete his tenure, they argued. But others from Anambra North zone argued that Obiano’s performance in office is a letdown and as dismal as it is a disappointment and a dent on the image of the North. For them, ‘the disaster’ better ends after his first four years so that another politician more imbued should complete the tenure for Anambra North. They argue in favour of the North zone competing the remaining four years so that that zone will be satisfied that it has occupied its tenure-quota. For instance an aspirant on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Secretary to Anambra state Government, Hon Oseloka Henry Obaze in emphasizing North’s desire to complete its tenure in a recent interview when asked how many years he would be in office said: “By 2022 Anambra North would have completed eight years; there should be room for others to contest. I have to honour any deal made by our zone or by me in that regard. That is the only way to begin to reshape our politics and dispense with the notion that you can’t trust politicians. Moreover, I’m a student of politics and history; we are witnesses in this country to what happens when deals and promises are not kept”. But when a similar question was posed to Mr. Godwin Chukwunenye Ezeemo of Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) from the South Senatorial zone, his response was: “Don’t create problem here. Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju from the South zone was denied a second term because he was accused of performing poorly in office. Why should the North case be different when their candidate also performed poorly?”

With this state of affairs, it is doubtful if aspirants will be thinking of power residing in the North for that section of the state to complete its quota as political parties choose their candidates in August.

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

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